Tuesday, 30th April 2019 | Sales,Marketing,Management
10 Ways to Survive Slow Times
Seasonal slowdowns are a common occurrence for many small-business owners. Here are some tips on how to survive the slow months and make the most of your time until sales spike again.
Spring has finally sprung across Canada! While most of us are excited for warmer weather, many small-business owners are fearing the start of a slow business season. Depending on the nature of your small business, there’s typically a season (or two) when you see a spike in sales and another that represents your biggest slump.
Regardless of when your slow business season takes place, it’s entirely possible for your business to survive–if not, thrive–with a little preparation and planning. Here are some ways you can make the most of a slow business season, and a few ideas on how to survive any slips in sales.
1. Anticipate your small business’ slow months
As a business owner, you know your operations better than anyone. So, looking back on previous years, it should be easy for you to predict which months will see fewer sales. As you plan out each year, avoid basing your sales targets on strictly your best months. Maintain a conservative approach with your budget and spending so that you don’t face a budget shortfall when sales are slowing down.
2. Strategize your savings
If you’ve planned ahead, you should be fully aware of when the slow business season will set in. With less revenue to work with at this time of year, many small-business-owners will need to implement a cost-savings plan, including some (or all) of the following measures:
- Reduced operating hours
- Fewer shifts for employees
- Smaller inventory purchases
- Discounts on excess or aging inventory
Remember: your savings plan needs to account for fewer customers and less revenue. Before you implement the savings tactics above, be sure to forecast your anticipated sales and budget needs based on the activity of previous years.
3. Plan for the rest of your year
When sales are slow, you’re likely to have extra time on your hands. Use this time to plan your marketing activities, budget forecast, inventory orders, staffing plans and more. Using the time you have now can set you up for success when business picks up again.
4. Undertake renovations and other fixes
Many small-business owners fear disrupting their operations with a renovation or upgrade, especially during their peak sales periods. This is why a slow business season is a perfect time to fix up your storefront or office space. If you own a restaurant or service-based business, slow months are also a great time for refreshing your menu and service offerings.
5. Rethink your marketing tactics
Some small businesses just aren’t seasonally relevant, such as landscaping companies trying to operate in the winter, or a snow-plow operator trying to drive sales in the summer. It can be hard to find market relevance, but a little creativity in your marketing will go a long way.
In your slow business season, consider hosting a giveaway that customers can redeem when the season is ripe; this can help your business name to remain top of mind year-round. You could also sponsor an event or hold a contest to ensure your name still generates a word-of-mouth buzz that carries you through the slow season.
6. Optimize your operations plan
Updating your operations and testing the validity of any new processes is something business owners simply can’t do during busy periods. When a slow business season approaches, it’s the perfect time to change course. Take a look at your regular procedures to evaluate where and how you can improve. This can include everything from customer service to accounting, shipping, inventory management and even invoicing.
7. Broaden your knowledge and network
It can be tough to take time off as a business owner. Slow times are the best time to take a day or two away for a conference, course, seminar or another event that will better your business. Not only will a learning opportunity to improve your own knowledge, but industry events provide ample networking options for you to gain partnerships that can better your overall business.
Connect with your local Chamber of Commerce or Board of Trade for details on upcoming events for small businesses in your area.
8. Reflect on customer feedback
Let’s face it: customers are leaving you reviews on Google, Yelp and other social media outlets whether you like it or not. Even though it’s a best practice to respond to your reviews (even the positive ones), it can be tough to carve out the time to do so regularly.
Use the extra hours you have during a slow business season to not only review and respond to all of your feedback, but also implement any changes required if you receive recurring negative comments regarding your products or services.
9. Revisit your website
Even if your website is brand new, there’s always room for improvement where SEO is concerned. A little effort goes a long way when it comes to optimizing your search ranking. A few quick checks you can implement include:
- Ensuring you have title tags, headings and alt-tags on your site
- Updating and implementing keywords throughout
- Fixing any broken links
- Checking your page-load speeds
10. Evaluate your social media efforts
While you’re updating your website, a slow business season is also the perfect time to check in on social media. Even if you have an agency or freelancer running your channels for you, how often are you looking at your ROI?
Now that you have a few extra hours, check up on your social performance and metrics. Ask yourself if you’re reaching the right audiences on the right platforms. If not, consider rethinking your approach to ensure you’re making the most from your investment on social.
When your slow times rolls around, don’t panic. With solid forecasting and planning in place, you should be able to predict when your slow times will occur each year. With this additional foresight, you’ll be able to make the most of your time, ensure you have processes in place to account for any slumps in sales and avoid the fear that can come when sales slow.
Understanding What a “Good Rate” Means When Applying for a Business Loan
The funding from a business loan might be used to meet expenditures, solve cash flow difficulties, hire or educate new employees, or find an inventory supplier, to name a few examples. You'll want to discover how to acquire a reasonable rate on a small business loan if you need operating cash.
To obtain a business loan, you must first locate a lender willing to give you money so you can acquire the items your company requires. Most lenders will provide various financing options that will demand payback over time. The majority of business loans have set terms and interest rates. The interest rate on a business loan might be high or low, depending on the lender.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no set “good” rate when it comes to acquiring a loan. A good rate for a business loan would depend on the following factors:
- The rate your business is eligible for
- The kind of financing your business requires
Do not get hung up on the rate of interest but instead focus on getting the right financing that suits your goals and needs.
Is a small business loan variable or fixed?
The interest rate on a small business loan might be fixed or variable. The interest rate and monthly payment on a fixed-rate loan do not fluctuate during the term of the loan, making it easier to budget for repayment.
The interest rates for lump-sum term loans are usually fixed. This loan is appropriate for one-time company expenditures and long-term financial needs, such as supporting large business growth, purchasing real estate, or consolidating debt.
A variable rate loan may have a lower beginning rate than a fixed-rate loan. But because it's linked to an underlying index that swings with the market, the rate might climb or fall. As a result, your payments may fluctuate, making budgeting more difficult.
A variable interest rate may apply to a company line of credit. It allows you to borrow money and repay it in installments, much like a credit card. This form of loan is ideal for business owners who don't want a certain quantity of money but do require quick access to cash, whether for emergency finances or short-term working capital.
How much are you charged in loan fees?
Fees on business loans are frequently necessary and can increase the cost of borrowing. The amount of upfront fees charged by small business lenders varies based on the size of your loan, the length of the repayment period, your credit score, and the type of business loan. When you apply for a small business loan, your lender should explain any fees that you don't understand.
Here are some of the most frequent costs associated with a small business loan:
A one-time cost is applied to the processing of a new loan.
Underwriters charge fees to evaluate and verify your papers, such as financial statements, personal bank accounts, credit reports, and tax filings.
Fees related to the loan's service, such as a loan-packaging charge, a commercial real estate assessment, or a business valuation.
How to grow your business with iCapital?
Consider applying for a small business loan from iCapital if you're having trouble acquiring the funding your small business needs.
It's a straightforward five-step process to apply for funding from iCapital. To begin, complete an online application, which should take no more than 5 to 10 minutes. In as little as 30 minutes after completing the application, you may get a verification call from one of our advisers. They'll double-check the information you provided in your application and ask you a few more questions to gather the information they need to qualify and approve you for a small business loan. You can expect to get your funds in as little as 24 to 48 hours after you've been accepted for financing. Your money will be put into your company's bank account. You may put the money to work immediately to help you expand your business. Contact iCapital to get a small business loan with a 98% approval rate. iCapital offers the best services in Canada.
Benefits of secured loans for your small business
What are secured loans?
A secured loan for small businesses is secured by an asset you own, such as equipment, vehicles, or real estate. The lender has the authority to seize that item as payment if the loan defaults and you are unable to repay it. It provides them with a level of protection, allowing them to claim the collateral if you default on your monthly payments. Given these company loans are less hazardous for the lender, the interest rate is often lower and the loan is easier to secure.
Benefits of secured loans for your small business
Lower interest rates
A secured loan for small businesses provides lower interest rates than other types of business loans such as:
- Business loans with no collateral
- Loans where credit cards are accepted
- Lines of credit for businesses
This is because having secured collateral minimizes the lender's risk. Some of the rates are as low as prime +1%. A secured loan for a small business may be a suitable alternative for you if you want to avoid paying excessive interest rates.
Longer repayment terms
Secured loans can have lengthier payback durations, up to 30 years in some cases. Your company loan lender will determine conditions depending on your unique circumstances. If you can't pay back a loan in a short period, a secured loan for a small business may be a good option.
If you want funds immediately, a secured company loan might assist you in obtaining the funds you require. Given that lending money has a lower risk for the lender, lenders are more willing to offer you the loan. When it comes to unsecured company loans, the qualifying requirements are usually strict. As a result, the time taken by the lender to examine the company loan eligibility is extremely lengthy. If you apply for a secured loan, however, you will receive the loan amount sooner since the lender will just need to assess the market value of the collateral before approving the loan.
Higher capital amount
The value of the collateral has a significant impact on the loan amount of a secured business loan. Even if your company is just a year old or has a low net worth, you can still acquire a large business loan provided your loan collateral is valuable. Your creditworthiness is improved by loan collateral.
Uninterrupted ownership on the collateralized property
The nicest thing about secured loans is that the borrower may still use the collateralized property. The borrower must provide the property's mother deed to the lender to obtain the loan. However, the property can be utilized as it was before the loan was approved. One can, for example, continue to reside in the house that was used as collateral for a loan. However, if the borrower fails on the loan, the residence must be evacuated.
Secured loans for small businesses with iCapital
A secured business loan has various advantages, but it is essential to remember that it also presents a risk to your asset. It is necessary to be cautious when repaying a loan, as failure to do so may result in your asset being taken away from you. If you've applied for a secured loan for a small business, you'll need to stick to a strict repayment plan. Contact iCapital at 1.877.251.7171 for easy business loans for small businesses.
Small business financing Canada
Pros and cons of merchant cash advance financing
What is a merchant cash advance?
The first thing to remember is that a Merchant Cash Advance (MCA) is not a loan. Unlike typical loans, MCA is a lump-sum payment made to a company in exchange for future sales. This is why Merchant Cash Advance financing is ideal for B2B transactions, as well as retail and restaurant establishments that predominantly accept debit and credit card payments. This is also why a Merchant Cash Advance is simpler to obtain than a loan because the applicant is assessed depending on the number of sales and cash flow generated in the previous few months rather than by their creditworthiness.
Pros of merchant cash advance financing
A merchant cash advance may be the appropriate solution for you if you are a small business owner looking for an alternative credit option for your company. However, before making the decision, study the pros and cons of Merchant Cash Advance financing. Here are a few of its merits:
Remittance depending on your company's credit card sales on a daily or weekly basis
The remittance structure is one of the most appealing aspects of obtaining a merchant cash advance. A classic business term loan requires a company to make a specified payment regardless of whether or not its customers have paid their invoices. This might place a hardship on a company that has slow-paying customers or a changing cash flow. As previously stated, a percentage of your company's credit card sales is utilized to pay your commitment with merchant cash advance financing. As a result, if you have a sluggish sales month, you will not be charged as much as during peak seasons.
The money is received shortly
The process of obtaining a company loan from a bank might take weeks or months to complete. If your company needs immediate operating cash, you can't afford to go through a lengthy financing procedure just to find out that you don't qualify for a loan. Funds are typically accessible in less than a week with a merchant cash advance, and many lenders can close agreements in less than 72 hours.
Payments are made automatically
With a merchant cash advance, payments are automatically deducted from your business's accepted credit transactions. This means you won't have to take time out of your day to make the payments, and you’re far less likely to incur late fees. If you have a habit of forgetting to pay your bills, knowing that your cash advance remittance is handled for you might be reassuring.
Cons of merchant cash advance financing
Although having access to quick cash with no strings attached seems appealing, there are certain drawbacks to getting a merchant cash advance that you should be aware of. Here are a few disadvantages to merchant cash advance financing:
Rates of interest can be quite high
The expense of merchant cash advances is one of the main reasons why businesses avoid them. While the fees charged by each lender differs, a merchant cash advance may cost you more in interest than other types of business financing. Merchant cash advance providers are exempt from numerous interest rate limitations and regulations since cash advances are deemed "short term" borrowing. As a result, their approvals are frequently linked to a high annual percentage rate (APR).
It might be difficult to succeed if you don't receive credit card sales
In many circumstances, companies accept a combination of credit cards, cash, and maybe even cheques as payment methods. While merchant cash advance providers normally do not have a problem with this, they do occasionally add a clause in their contracts that prohibits businesses from giving incentives for non-credit card payments.
There could be limitations
Another negative aspect to receiving a merchant cash advance is that there may be “fine print” that places limitations on your business while you are fulfilling your obligation. A common restriction to watch out for is wording that won’t allow the business to switch credit card processing companies. Other prohibited changes may include things like moving locations or revising hours of operation.
Why you should choose iCapital
When applying for merchant cash advance financing, the most important thing to remember is that while it can be a useful tool in certain situations, it also comes with risks. Make sure you understand all restrictions and expenses before deciding to pursue this financing option and don't be afraid to ask iCapital questions. After you've gathered all of the information, you can assess if your firm might benefit from a merchant cash advance. Contact iCapital at 1.877.251.7171 today for the best services in Canada.
Small business financing Canada
Here’s why empathy is good for business
Of the many consequences emerging out of the past couple of years, mental health concerns are one of the most significant. The World Health Organization estimates that 450 million people suffer from mental illness, with 6.7 million of them in Canada. This has an economic cost affecting our healthcare and social support systems (projected to be $79.9 billion in 2021), and a measurable impact on businesses who pay for services through employment-based private health insurance plans. It’s also led to worker preference for companies that have a human-centred approach–a strategic edge during the Great Resignation–and deeper customer loyalty. In this current climate, demonstrating empathy is a marketable skill.
What is empathy?
Empathy is about understanding someone else’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences. For businesses, this means taking the needs and priorities of your workers, partners, and customers into account and demonstrating genuine concern.
How does empathy in the workplace benefit business?
Even before the so-called Great Resignation, there was a strong case for an empathetic workplace. Nobody likes to have their personal concerns ignored. Now, however, we have a situation where people are leaving their jobs in large numbers and some employers are experiencing difficulty attracting and retaining employees. Providing a positive workplace experience can help.
Effective leaders show empathy by establishing a genuine connection with their employees and demonstrating that concern. The idea may be nebulous but the strategies to achieve this are not. According to the Center for Creative Leadership, you can show empathy in your workplace by being compassionate, showing an interest in the lives and goals of your coworkers, offering assistance with personal problems, and watching for signs of burnout. The idea is to make real connections and build trust.
Empathy builds a strong organizational culture
Ideally, your workers should feel a sense of belonging and security at the workplace. An empathic approach helps build a strong organizational culture which, in turn, will help you attract and retain qualified and enthusiastic employees.
Empathy increases engagement
Having enough help is one thing but having engaged help is another. Small business owners rely heavily on their employees in day-to-day operations so they want the most passionate people possible at their side and empathetic leadership is one way to get there. Data from a study by Catalyst shows that “employees with highly empathic senior leaders report[ed] higher levels of creativity (61%) and engagement (76%)...”
Empathy affects your bottom line in all sorts of ways, from reducing turnover and training costs to increasing overall worker well-being which means less absenteeism and burnout. Financial benefits to the increase in worker creativity are difficult to measure but it’s reasonable to assume a higher level of innovation.
How does empathy for my customers benefit business?
The pandemic led many people to re-evaluate their lives. The Great Resignation is one result of this, but even on a more everyday level there appears to be a trend towards positive, holistic, respectful experiences. An empathetic workplace can be a respite from a day that’s otherwise frightening and stressful and reflect positively on your brand.
Workers are happier
Worker satisfaction is one of these trickle-down ideas, particularly in a retail or customer-facing position. When your employees are happy (when they feel secure at work, are invested, and have trust), they will be able to respond to customers positively.
Customers can count on a positive experience with your company
Every interaction from information gathering to sales to customer communications like emails or social media posts should be based on the principles of empathy. Remember that everyone is dealing with complicated emotions like fear, grief, and uncertainty right now. Prioritize the needs, desires, fears, and goals of your customers to create a lasting positive connection.