I am thinking about stating my own landscaping business. I am nervous though, because it's seasonal and I don't have any prior experience running a business. Any tips?

I am thinking about stating my own landscaping business. I am nervous though, because it's seasonal and I don't have any prior experience running a business. Any tips?

Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} First, as a seasonal business owner, you will most likely face some challenges that year-round businesses don't. After all, trying to squeeze a year's worth of business into a far shorter period can get pretty hectic. Here are some tips that may help.

Cash Control

All small business owners have to be careful cash managers. Strict management is particularly critical when cash flows in over a relatively short period of time. One very important lesson to learn: Control the temptation to overspend when cash is plentiful.

Arming yourself with a realistic budget and sound financial projections - including next season's start-up costs - will help you maintain control.

In the Off-season

It's difficult to maintain visibility when you aren't in business year round. But there's no reason why you can't send your customers periodic updates via e-mail or snail mail. You'll certainly want to announce your reopening date well ahead of time. You can also spend time developing new leads and lining up new business.

Time for R and R

You deserve it; so take some time for rest and relaxation. But you'll also want to use the time you're closed to make any necessary repairs and take care of any sprucing up you'd like to do. You can also use the off-season to shop around and look for deals on items you keep in stock and/or equipment you need to buy or replace.

Expansion Plans

If you're thinking of making the transition from "closed for the season" to "open all year," start investigating new product lines or services. If you diversify in ways that are complementary to and compatible with your core business, your current customer base may provide support right away. For instance, if you start out mowing lawns in the summer, adding in leaf removal in the fall, snow removal in the winter and a spring-clean up service will provide you with customers all year long. A well-thought-out expansion can be the key to a successful transition into a year-round business.

Being the owner of any type of business has its rewards - and its challenges. For additional tips, consider consulting others in your prospective field to see what they may have experienced early on as well as a financial advisor who has experience working with small business owners.

Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;}

Michael Niemeyer is a Vice President with the Business Banking division of Fifth Third Bank. He welcomes the opportunity to take your comments and questions. Please feel free to contact him at 614 - 744-5688 or Michael.Niemeyer@53.com .