After being open 6 months we are strapped for cash for buying inventory and expenses. So far we have not had any luck with bank loans. Crowdfunding may be an option, but it won't get us the kind of money we may need. Our overhead is at a minimum as we haven't paid ourselves as employees since January and my wife and I are 2 of 3 employees. We have a great concept but we haven't been able to get established quick enough. Any help or advice would be great.
As I see it, you need to develop a business strategy for the season by taking advantage of your the resources you already have. Obtaining additional funds will help you to alleviate your financial constraints, but from what you have told this doesn't appear to be the most attainable solution to your problem.
For developing a business strategy with the objective of keeping your shop open during the winter, there are some aspects you could take into consideration:
1) As the demand is low during winter, you will have excess capacity, which is actually the source of your problem. You may think of offering very aggressive promotions for both existing and new customers, with very low prices on the services and goods. Your primary goal is to cover the operating costs, not obtaining a profit.
2) You may provide free services to attract customers, such as workshops on bike maintenance. You may also consider exploring strategic alliances for these activities. For example, you could organize activities sponsored by one of your providers, in order to educate your customers on the advantage of his/her products and on how to use them properly.
4) If you have enough space, you could setup an indoor training business. This could also be achieved through strategic alliances, for example with bike instructors.
5) You may sell your goods with a minimum margin above the replacement cost, specially the one with low turnover rate.
6) After 6 months, you probably already have a customer base. Try to think what value proposition you could offer to them, based on your knowledge of their needs and the resources you already have (the shop, the know how, your stock).
There are a number of techniques to develop ideas about business models, such as the Business Canvas and the Lean Canvas, which provide you with a structured approach to think about your value propositions, your customers, your resources and other critical aspects of the business.
Regarding the additional funding, you may try Crowdlending, not to cover your entire expenses through the winter, but to alleviate your financial stress. In order to get better chances with Crowdlending, I think it will help you to have an appealing business concept with a reasonable ROI, as opposed to simply requesting money for working capital.
Answered 7 years ago
I am a farmer and seasonality is the essence of our business.
You didn't mention if this is a cafe especially for bikers on the road or vice versa. A place to fix bikes and have a cafe while you wait?
So the answers may fit one situation and not the other.
1 Close for the off-season. find for yourself and wife another jobs and reopen again in the good season. hopefully by next year you will have a good solution so you don't have to do this again- or maybe do this again
2. Imagine you were not around what solutions exist for your customers.. and see if you can work this into your off-season activity
3.Do things different and do diffrent things - example winter ice-cream, or summer soup...
with this I mean ideas that work around the seasonality issue. Here people only eat watermelon in summer. But we produced mini watermelon and called it winter watermelon. It works..
4. If you repair bikes - hire a van and start going around town advertising when you will be where at what time. Fix-em bike
5. If the cafe is your core business hire a van and go around town selling cafe stuff
Answered 7 years ago
The answer lies in understanding cash flow; it's cash in/cash out. You would have seen the problem if you'd prepared a 6 month rolling cash flow before opening your doors. Do you have a friendly banker? Work out your cash plan for the next 6 months; determine the negative cash flow. Rack your brain on how to reduce the negative. Then sit down with the banker, show your plan. Ask how he (or she) can help. When a financial person sees you understand and control basic business, you're more likely to receive positive support. If you want more info see Core Value Proposition, my book on Amazon.
Answered 7 years ago