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T H U R S D A Y, M A Y 7, 2 0 1 5

CAPITAL IDEAS UPCOMING M AY 1 2 : R E V: S U STA I N . ACCELERATE . THRIVE . A half day of resources, learning opportunities and networking targeted at Calgary’s small and medium sized business owners ■ Where: University of Calgary, Dining Centre (169 University Gate N.W.) ■ When: 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. ■ Admission: $29 to $39. Tickets at calgarychamber.com

FINANCIAL POST

CA LG A RY H E R A L D

C A P I TA L Q U E S T I O N

HOW DO YOU MANAGE SEASONALITY IN YOUR BUSINESS? Entrepreneurs share how they keep their businesses thriving year-round “G.K. Hills was designed around seasonality. Due to the nature of tank inspections, we understood that the period between April and October would be our busy season, thereby providing us an opportunity to invest in the business during its off season. This means focusing on system improvements, such as streamlining process, assessing impact of new regulatory or legal requirements, vendor qualification and training, setting strategic direction and allocating resources to marketing and sales efforts. Seasonality presents us with a perfect opportunity to focus and advance.”

M AY 1 9 : MAXIMIZING OPPORTUNITIES IN A GROWING GLOBAL MARKETPLACE ■ A discussion with Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz on how producers, business and government can work together to maximize opportunities ■ Where: Hotel Blackfoot (5940 Blackfoot Tr.) ■ When: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. ■ Admission: $69 to $89. Tickets at calgarychamber.com

Elizabeth Brueckner, founder and principal at GK Hills Tank Inspection, gkhills.com

“Seasonality in our business usually means a shift in industry focus. Since we also use a group of contractors that we have worked with for almost a decade, we can scale our workforce up and down to meet fluctuations in demand. During breakup we can more easily focus on planning with the energy sector and its related service companies, though other sectors tend to be geared up to complete projects before the summer vacation period happens. Our busiest seasons are fall and winter so we are usually in execution mode then, and at that time, we must ensure that we keep our marketing and sales efforts up ... Seasonality provides us with a little variety throughout the year.” Merri Lemmex, managing partner of operations at Lemmex Williams Training, lemmexwilliams.com

For more great events, visit capitalideascalgary.com/ calgaryevents.

“We manage seasonality by planning for it. There is definitely seasonality in my industry, though it’s more akin to the health club industry — business owners seem to be more inclined to reach out during the fall and January. That said, we are always in business development mode via sharing knowledge without expectation, thus we can earn a new client any month of the year, even during the slower months.”

COMMUNITY QUESTION

How do you use technology to your advantage?

Vince Fowler, head coach at Vested Interest Group, vestedinterestgroup.com

Megan Armstrong, owner of Dogma Training & Pet Services (dogmatraining.com), says she encourages her staff to take time off during slow periods. “We experience slow times over the Christmas holidays and during the summer months, so those are ideal times for the team to take time off. We also host two large events for our clients around Christmas and just before the summer, where we hold two of our largest promotions to inject cash into the business. This helps stabilize the cash flow for the slower months and encourages clients to enroll in the services that typically see lower numbers during those times.” P H O TO S U P P L I E D BY: M E G AN ARM S TRONG

Technological advances can make your job easier, or even make your business more money, which is why Shawn Freeman, president of TWT Group Inc. (twtgroup. ca), is curious to hear from you: How do you use technology to your advantage? You can answer the question in two ways: Open today’s Capital Ideas email if you’re a member or visit capitalideascalgary.com. We’ll publish the best answers, along with your business name and website address, on May 14.

“Periods of reduced client-facing business activity caused by seasonality provide an excellent opportunity to take stock, strategise and plan, establish new relationships, concentrate on business development and work on new products and services. Good business planning anticipates and plans for revenue declines during seasonal periods, thereby minimizing the impact.” Wilma Slenders, president of Transcend Management Advisors Inc., transcendmgt.com

“Although Zone One Wellness is open for business yearround, the occasional seasonal lows are an opportunity to tend to logistics, volunteer time and services with worthy causes, do additional training, network and market our services. Instructing, proctoring and accessing exams privately and for my professional association throughout the year has helped in many avenues as the practice continues to grow. This is also beneficial for staying in the know and providing the best services possible.” Shannon Gordon, owner and healer at RMT at Zone One Wellness, zoneonewellness.com

“Our seasons are summer travel, back-to-school and holidays. We spend our slower times preparing for our busier times. We create our marketing materials, build up inventory and meet with key suppliers during our slower time, which makes the busier months so much easier. The key to making our busy times successful is organizing and working up to them properly. If we were that busy all year, we would be a wild and crazy mess!” Business owners helping business owners

Melissa Gunning, CEO at Wean Green, weangreen.com

“Every business or industry experiences the effects of seasonality to some degree. I think the key is in your strategic planning. By identifying seasonal trends and solutions ahead of time, you can be better prepared to deal with the highs and lows, as well as make the most out of them. For example, you know to ramp up marketing prior to and during your peaks, and to hire on during those periods, or implement alternative marketing strategies and do your workforce planning accordingly for the slow periods. You can also think big by looking for global opportunities to fill in the gaps your business experiences locally.” Kamea Zelisko, owner at MKT Communications, mktcommunications.ca

“Seasonality has its perks for sure — I get to travel! In all seriousness though, the main thing to remember is to prepare and stay consistent. Keep your systems in place. Keep working the plan. Take advantage of the peak periods and don’t stress out in the slow seasons.”

Sara Dasko, CEO of Free Mind Language Services, freemindls.com

“We don’t. There is no good or bad time for our solutions, just when leaders feel that they and their organizations are ready to make a change happen. So we keep conversations going. When we are busiest, we still make time to nurture relationships. When we are slow, we focus on how we can help, even if our prospects may not be ready to buy yet. Our relationships are varied across many industries and types of clients, so that economic and seasonal cycles allow us to flex where the opportunity to help is most timely.” Len Nanjad, partner at COREinternational inc., coreinternational.com

“With social media being the core of my business, I need to anticipate and prepare for influxes in campaigns and activity around holidays such Christmas or Valentine’s Day. During these times, my clients are often very busy and need to feel 100 per cent supported, so I make myself and my resources available to them as needed. Prior to the holiday season, I line up additional partners from within my network who can jump in to help on short notice so I can fully support my clients when they need it the most.” Amanda Schewaga, owner of The Marketing Girl, themarketinggirl.com

“Schedule vacations for the downtime and make sure your batteries are charged for the up-time. Downtime is also good for working on new products, doing some longterm planning and working on other on-the-business activities.”

Ave Peetri, owner at Coaching by Ave Peetri Inc., confidentmarketing.com

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“All businesses have some degree of seasonality. You might be surprised to know that even organizations as large as ATB Financial have to manage through seasonality in our business. As an entrepreneur or business owner, it is important to plan for your cash flow, and there are simple tools that can help you do that available online or from multiple sources. The bottom line is, you need to hold some cash in reserve from the good times to make sure you can pay your bills in tougher periods. In my 20 years supporting entrepreneurs and business owners, I have seen way too many businesses fail because of this lack of discipline.”

How do you manage seasonality in your business?  

Entrepreneurs share how they keep their businesses thriving year-round. Originally published in the Calgary Herald FP section on May 7, 2015...

How do you manage seasonality in your business?  

Entrepreneurs share how they keep their businesses thriving year-round. Originally published in the Calgary Herald FP section on May 7, 2015...

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