When did January become such a stressful month? I mean, so many people from all walks of life (including the moonwalk of life) worry about the uncertainty of a new year. These uncertainties can be about work, the ever rising price of petrol, the impact of inflation on the cost of living, and the state of the economy, while others worry about how they will even make it through January. All of this worrying has led to the first month of the year being dubbed ‘Janu-worry’.
Small businesses are not exempt from this worrying, and unfortunately, there is no fool-proof plan to help any business ride out the storm and right the ship. Every business is different, and each has its risks and rewards. However, there are some strategies that can help your business during the dreaded month of Janu-worry.
1. Talk to your banker and suppliers
In South Africa, Janu-worry is notorious for empty wallets and slow revenues, but this does not have to mean it’s sink or swim for your business. A simple strategy is to talk to your bank. I get it, we all know how you feel about banks (heck, we all feel the same!) but they could offer you more favourable terms on loan repayments, or potentially give you the necessary funding so your business stays afloat in the first month of the year.
Your suppliers could also be your new best friends. Talk to them; they understand the struggle. Sit down and have a conversation about the possible options for paying for your stock at a later time. Remember, your main objective here is to make it to February (relatively) unscathed.
2. Scale back
Now I don’t want to be Captain Obvious, but if you know that Janu-worry will be a slow month, why not reduce your inventory purchases? The last thing you want is to lose money on excess stock and storage costs. Rather, look at your sales from last year and buy according to that number.
I’m not a fan of this strategy, but you could also look at employee hours, and decide where to make the necessary cuts. It’s a tough month for all, but business is all about making the right sacrifices, for the long term.
3. Research competitors
Have you ever heard the old saying, “There’s nothing new under the sun”? Well, know this, you’re not the only one struggling during Janu-worry, so doing some research on what your competition is up to can produce a lot of rewards.
You’re probably not the only one in your industry who is experiencing a slow month. If your competitors are still finding a way to make sales, find out what marketing campaigns and sales techniques are working for them – you can get great ideas by analysing the successes of your competition. Now, I’m not saying copy and paste exactly what they are doing, but their strategies can be a rich source of inspiration for your plans.
4. Cut costs without slashing quality
Let’s sit down, trim the fat, look at what we need to retain for the ship to keep sailing, and cut what we don’t. Be honest with yourself, look at the price of your stock, and ask yourself:
- Can I buy it somewhere else for a lower price?
- Does the supply of each product echo the demand? What’s not moving, or what’s selling out?
- Even if your production method works, is there a way to refine it and make it more efficient and/or less expensive?
These questions could help you find a better way of managing your production and save you money, not just for Janu-worry, but for the long haul too.
5. Ensure access to cash
In the words of South Africa’s iconic musician Sello Chicco Twala, “I need some money”. And just like Chicco, every business needs to ensure that they have access to money, especially in times of need.
A good option would be to visit your bank, learn and understand what you need to get a loan. But another great option, if you’re a Yoco user, is to get access to funding through Yoco Capital. Yoco Capital is a fast, flexible cash advance for small businesses that will help you finance any possible short-term cash-flow problems. Every small to medium-sized business needs to have access to money to make it through tough times. Look at your business needs and approach the right institutions to help you grow. Whatever you do, do not visit a loan shark!
6. Look for new opportunities
Having a slow month is inevitable for any business, and Janu-worry is the perfect chance to explore new opportunities. If you’re not maintaining a steady revenue flow, then a drop in sales is an inescapable symptom, but if you are using your slow times to regularly diversify and expand into new markets, then a dip will still represent an overall gain. It’s never too late to try something new, and expand your offering along with your customer base.
You may need to reposition your products or services to attract new customers, explore up-selling and cross-selling techniques, or implement subscription services that will help you create new, regular sources of revenue. A business that continuously evolves and looks for new opportunities is a business that won’t have to worry about Janu-worry.
Okay, now that you have an idea of what to do in the first month of the year, who’s ready to turn Janu-worry into Janu-winning for small businesses?