Roofers. Landscapers. House painters. Concrete contractors. Etc. All y’all know who you are, and you don’t need anyone else to inform you that you don’t make money all year round, so you probably have some kind of plan for that. If you don’t, google “cash flow for seasonal businesses” and you’ll find many blog posts with “tips” (i.e. mostly common sense).
You already know it’s important to do things such as:
- Have a budget and know your fixed and variable expenses;
- Get paid for your work as quickly as possible;
- Keep up with paying your vendors and other bills while the money is coming in;
- Save for the off season;
- Possibly expand your business to offer complementary services in the off season;
- Arrange for a line of credit or other borrowing options during the off season (as a last resort).
But KNOWING and DOING are different things. What are the hardest cash flow coping strategies for you to implement, and why? Be honest and realistic.
- Maybe you CAN do the things listed above, and even do them well, but you hate some of them.
- They take time, and during the busy time of the year, when you’re making hay while the sun shines, you may not want to spend what little time is left over at the end of a long day in the sun then doing financial book work, even though your success is tied to it.
- They take discipline. When there’s a balance in the checkbook, and you worked hard all week, and there’s a sale on something you could use for your favorite leisure activity, it takes discipline to choose saving over spending, long-term success over short-term fun.
What can you do about barriers like that?
- First, automate what you can. For example, set up an automatic transfer from your business checking account to a business savings account each month. Prioritize saving FIRST, not last after the bills are paid.
- Get help if you need it. Professional bookkeepers who specialize in your industry actually love doing work you don’t love – including tracking your accounts payable and receivable, and helping you develop that critically important budget as they track your income and expenses month by month. And if worse comes to worst and you need a loan, you’ll have updated financial statements to provide to the bank or other creditor.
Chances are your time is much more profitably spent estimating a new job or pressure washing a house or building a deck or installing an irrigation system or pouring concrete.
Do the job you love, and offload the back office work you’re not getting around to anyway, so it doesn’t pile up and turn your self-employment dream into a nightmare just because you ran out of cash before you ran out of year.