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Turning around a Slow January

January 14, 2019

Most businesses are coming off a busy final quarter (October – December). Everyone in the retail and service industry can agree that the last three months of every year are typically good for business.

Customers are out shopping and eating/drinking with family and friends. It’s a festive time and one that businesses capitalize on. However, unless your business is in the health industry (helping people achieve their new year’s resolution) January tends to be one of the slowest months of the year. Many businesses have come to accept this trend as normal and justify it by claiming that shoppers are “tired from the holidays”, “haven’t received their tax return yet”, and “saving money to be more conservative”. The truth is we as business owners need to offer something more enticing in order to turn January into a fruitful month.

Planning plays an important role in business operations. This presumably begins in January on most business calendars, however, in reality, it should begin in October. Why? October is typically the beginning of the new fiscal year for many large companies. You should take a page from their playbook because it sets up the rest of your year to stay ahead of the regular calendar schedule. Planning your year in January is productive but it, unfortunately, leaves January behind the consumer curve. Use October to plan activities in December to set up a strong start for the New Year. This can include a special message to customers, special shopping offers, or plan a special event.

Shoppers are always looking for opportunities. Whether you’re in retail or the service industry there are always opportunities to serve your customers. A good business has their finger on the pulse of their customers and is able to anticipate and serve them with products and offers that speak to them directly. Open up your email and you will find offers from several well-known businesses sending you a special coupon or discount, and some have nothing to do with the time of year but rather your shopping habits. Take a moment to look at your sales receipts from previous years in the month of January. What trends can you begin to see and predict? Are you letting January pass by?

Don’t play by the same rules. A fresh and new strategy often catches the eyes of customers that haven’t been back in a while. January is a month of fresh starts and change, try something that will surprise your customers and you may surprise yourself.

“Business Tips” was written by Alejandro Castañon, Business Development Specialist of Angelo State University’s Small Business Development Center.  For more information on the topic of this article or the services of the ASU · SBDC, contact him at