Another choice for seasonal business owners is to do as Tonya Poole has: branch out in the slow season. "We occasionally get people not in the real estate market who are looking for copywriters, editors or typesetters," says Poole, who also founded The Sierra Soho Association, a nonprofit organization for Nevada and California SOHOs. "During the summer months, it's very difficult for us to take those jobs, so we normally refer them out. But during the winter months, we take those in-house."
Gillian Christie's theory of seasonal slumps is that there are none--only "a lack of creativity." She helps her marketing and public relations firm clients figure out how they can overcome obstacles, like seasonality. One client, a full-spectrum lighting company with slow summer sales, repositioned its product to sell it as dental office lighting and as lighting for makeup applications. Another client--an African hot tea company--is focusing on the health benefits to nursing mothers of their herbal blend to sell more in the summer in America.
"A person who feels they have a slump should look at it from a different angle or find a niche they haven't reviewed before," says Christie, whose firm, Christie Communications Inc., is headquartered in Santa Barbara, California, and focuses on ethically minded clients. "It's really a wonderful exercise in creativity. Just think and play with ideas. Study and read a lot of industry publications outside your category so you're familiar with what's going on in other industries."
Make Your Decision
With a seasonal business, you have several options. You can remain busy year-round through diversification, you can focus on other activities like writing a book, or you can plan carefully and take some extra time off for yourself.
"Despite all the downsides to a business that's seasonal," says Poole, "the upside is you can, if you plan it properly, make enough money during the busy periods to support yourself [while] you actually take some time off, relax and really enjoy what working from home is all about. That's much of the reason why people work from home--to either have that freedom to choose their own hours or to have more time with their family. So work a little bit extra hard during your seasonal highs and then during your seasonal lows, you can really enjoy that benefit that you started out to begin with."