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Working Within Your Budget

Happy September everyone! I know I can speak for most in the DC restaurant industry when I say- Thank God it's September! One more slow season is behind us, and now it's time to gear up and get ready for holiday season madness.

Many of us are busy writing menus, thinking of our holiday marketing campaigns, figuring out holiday schedules and how we will be able to balance our personal enjoyment of the holidays and fulfilling the needs of our customers.

As we embark on this busy season, I'd like to lend some words of advice. This is personal advice, and many might not agree with me. But you can take it or leave it.

When we get into the busy season, we work harder, but we also have more cash flow. I've seen many businesses make the mistake of spending their cash on equipment they might not necessarily need at the moment, on expensive marketing and PR firms, or just drawing cash for themselves during this time. I think it's great if you can invest in equipment and things that your company needs- but don't forget to ask your CPA about what investments would be of more advantage to you.

Another thing to look out for is: Are you in debt? You need to pay that debt back before you invest in things that you might not necessarily need at the moment. It's important to remember that your business will always have needs. You will always invent a justification for why you need that new thing, and you'll end up spending the money. There will always be something that you will need to buy, that will make your business more efficient, that might drive customers to your door. My recommendation is: Focus on what you have and make the most of it. Get creative with your marketing strategies- and try not to get into debt. Instead, invest the cash flow on a rainy day fund. That way, if the slow season does hit, you have something to fall back on. This is my advice for any small business. It's probably not the same advice that other small business consultants will give you. But, it's definitely what I would recommend.

My opinion has been shaped by experience, and perhaps comes from a religious part of me as well. In Luke 19:11-27 there's a story about three men that receive a gold coin, and the one who was able to invest it and make more coins was rewarded most. I just think that when you have a resource, you should try to use it to the best of your ability. I've failed at that at the past and realized it's much better to work with what you have, than to borrow and be in debt and pay interest because of the failure to develop a plan on how you'll be able to be resourceful and use what you have.

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