Here in Winnipeg, January can be a pretty hard month. It’s the coldest month of the year, and it can be a struggle to leave your home; it’s the month of ordering in instead of going out. Lifting your mood can be hard enough for the average Winnipegger, but for businesses, especially those in retail, January is especially tough. The Golden Quarter is over, people’s cash flow has been depleted by the holidays, and they already don’t want to go outside; business is typically very slow in January. That can give you the blues, but it’s not all bad news; if you have a January lull, you can use that extra time to find new ways of making your business more efficient.
You might opt to hold sales in January; clearance sales for items that won’t be held in stock for the new year, or deep discounts to get people out of their homes. Make an event of it; serve hot cocoa, tea or coffee, heat your shop so it’s nice and cozy, and offer up a scenario where people will want to leave their homes for the comfort you offer. This can be tough, because you’ve probably offered sales around Boxing Day, but if you commit to the idea before January rolls around, you can offer a bit of reprieve for yourself and your customers.
A new year means new ideas, so January is a good time for learning as much as you can about your business. During those slow days, go to conferences (preferably somewhere sunny) and pick up tips from your peers. Go on data gathering missions; send out surveys to your customers. They’re likely to be at home avoiding the cold, and that might increase your response rates.
Take advantage of the business opportunities that pop up during this month; almost every business will have a slow January, and unfortunately, it’s enough to lead to some companies folding. When you don’t have a successful Golden Quarter, it can break your business, but that means when you’ve succeeded, there might be cheap real estate opportunities or closeout sales you can benefit from.
Use the extra time you find yourself with to take stock of your business, both literally and figuratively. Now is a great time to do inventory, rework the budget, and cut unnecessary expenses. Perhaps you purchased a service last year that you really wanted to try out, but found it wasn’t working for you – now’s the time to cut it out. Maybe you’ve realized an item you were producing isn’t a great seller; get rid of it. January can be a month of efficiency.
You should take an in-depth look at your budget in January; you have a whole year of reports to pour over, and you can find some interesting insights no matter what business you’re in. For these purposes, an experienced accounting firm can really help you dive into the nitty gritty of your earnings and expenses, and help you navigate what’s tax deductible and what isn’t; tax season is just around the corner, after all!