Using the Highs and Lows of Business Cycles to Create a Thriving Business

Every business, no matter the product they sell or service they provide can fall victim to the highs and lows of the business cycle. How you handle these highs and lows can mean the difference when working to create a thriving business. It is true each business is subject to different cycles, but every business can react to these cycles in the same manner as it works towards creating a thriving business.

When we talk about business cycles many immediately think of the roller coaster ride associated with economical recessions and booms. However, business cycles can also be as subtle as seasonal or weather cycles or cycles caused by vacations or shutdowns.

Having systems in place to help you cope with both the highs and lows of industry cycles will help to ensure that your business will continue to thrive. If you are not prepared for a boom it can cause just as much damage for your business as a recession. Here are some of the examples of ways to combat business cycles:

Offer a Complimentary Service

For those affected by weather seasons, offering a complimentary service can provide your business with the business needed to weather the seasonal cycle. For example, a Northern Canadian lawn care business would not have a vast demand for their services in the winter, but if they were to offer snow plowing in the winter to offset this slowdown they could find a consistent and steady income. Another example, if you do outdoor construction projects and you can’t work in the summer because it is too hot, why not target an indoor construction project until temperatures cool enough to return outdoors.

Target Opposite Markets

Look to the cycles of your target market and find someone at the opposite end of a cycle to assist during slow times. For example if you are a bookkeeper whose clients are mostly construction workers and the construction season is slow during tax season, why not offer your services to an accountant, who could probably use your help. Another example is if you target women to buy your product and right now they are not purchasing your product, figure out what changes are necessary to encourage men to buy your product.

Outsource or Subcontract During Busy Times

When many business owners hit a peak period or busy time they begin to feel the pressures and stress of meeting all the associated deadlines. It does not always make good business sense to hire employees to help you during busy times, although in some industries (e.g. farming and construction), seasonal employees have become the norm. An excellent alternative is to outsource or utilize a subcontractor during busy times. The advantage of outsourcing is there are no obligations other than those associated with any contract you might sign. By utilizing subcontractors you can still have quality assistance with the knowledge there are no long term commitments required.

Offer a Reduced Rate or Discounted Rate

During slow times offering a discount may give you the competitive edge you need. I have heard of many companies offering different rates depending on their workload or the interest in their product or services. Just consider the retail industry; many times they have sales in January and February because this is their slow season and they are looking to generate interest in their products.

Increase Your Price to Deter Business

Just as many will offer a reduced rate during slow times, the same holds true during busy times. Don’t be afraid to increase your price when you are busy. After all, much of our pricing is based on the laws of supply and demand. Many will still be willing to pay your price even if it is inflated because they require your services immediately and for those that aren’t willing to pay the price now, it might hold them off until your business slows down a bit.

Offer Your Services to Someone as a Subcontractor

During slower times, why not consider offering your services as a subcontractor. Although subcontracting doesn’t necessarily pay as much, it is better than having no income.

Develop a Marketing Strategy to Create Interest

Perhaps the most obvious strategy for dealing with cycles is to look at your current marketing strategies and make adjustments. Perhaps you could introduce a contest or start a promotion that is exciting and gives people a renewed desire to check you out. In the same regard taking a close look at how you are spending your marketing dollars and trying something different might be the key to helping you get through an industry low.

Plan for and Learn to Live with the Cycles

As they say, if you can’t beat them join them. Perhaps the easiest way to handle industry highs and lows is to just accept they will happen and develop a way to live through them. Perhaps during the lows you see this as an opportunity to take a much needed vacation and a high as an opportunity to really get out there and show them just what you can do.

However, you deal with the highs and lows of your business, only someone that can learn to fasten their seatbelt and enjoy the roller coaster ride will truly have created a thriving business for themselves.