5 Tips for Getting Ready for your Busy Business Season

5 Tips for Getting Ready for your Busy Business Season

Here in Western New York, our “busy” indoor playground season typically starts in November and stretches through May.

That means that we are handling an increased volume of open-play customers but also an increase in birthday parties, events, classes, etc.. With the frigid weather, parents of small children are usually looking for as many indoor recreation options as possible.

While your business will naturally get busier during whatever your area’s typical “indoor play” season is, taking a few crucial steps before the busy season comes will prove instrumental in making sure you find success. 

Because while profit is important— it’s not the only thing.

5 Tips from an Introverted Business Owner

5 Tips from an Introverted Business Owner

Owning any business can be difficult as an introvert, but it can be especially challenging when the business is a local brick-and-mortar retail venture.

Even if the owner is not physically present at the store much, the thousands of interactions with customers each week can still require a great deal of intervention and therefore energy from the business owner.

For example, even though I only physically work at my cafe a few times a month-- I am still constantly interacting with customers every day. Whether it be via email, social media, or phone-- technology has made it easier for anyone to get in touch with us. 

And since our social media and marketing strategies rely so heavily on video and “behind the scenes” peeks-- it can become overwhelming feeling like I am constantly putting myself “out there” and opening myself up to others (and their positive and negative feedback, as well).

Why We Don't Offer Discounts to Friends or Family Anymore at our Indoor Playground

Why We Don't Offer Discounts to Friends or Family Anymore at our Indoor Playground

As small business owners it can often feel like we are being pulled in a million different directions. It can also feel like someone ALWAYS needs something, whether it be a team member or a customer or a vendor.

It’s easy to allow yourself to be stretched too thinly and need to rely on a support system for strength when it gets to be too much.

However, what happens when we are being asked for favors from within our own support system as well?

What I Wish Customers Knew About Small Local Businesses

What I Wish Customers Knew About Small Local Businesses

Have you ever heard the phrase, “kill your darlings”? I hadn’t until this year.

To me, as a business owner, my “darlings” are the business-related things that I love the most-- and hold onto selfishly or against logic because of my emotional attachment to them

On paper, it can seem black-and-white. This service is profitable, so we will keep doing it. And if this other offering is much less profitable-- then we should cut it.

However, in the real world, it rarely works out that way. I’ll give you an example.

At Climbing Vines Cafe and Play, we used to host a “Kids Night Out”, where local families could drop their children off for 3 hours on Friday nights so they could go on a date-night, run errands, or just have a much-needed break as a parent.

While our customers (and even I) loved the idea of this, it never quite worked out for us. Despite making tweaks that made this offering much more profitable, at the end of the day, it took too much time and too many resources away from other, more important aspects of our business.

A Common Mistake Most Small Local Business Owners Make

A Common Mistake Most Small Local Business Owners Make

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, life as a business owner looks significantly different from when we first opened our doors four years ago. While I still retain some responsibilities, like communicating with party clients, there are many tasks I used to keep on my “plate” that I have since outsourced, like working parties and events, and things I gave up altogether, like stalking the weather and worrying about competition.

However, one of the most common mistakes I see small business owners (especially local small business owners) make is hoarding all of the most important tasks for themselves.

This mistake is usually borne from good intentions-- the business owner wants everything to be done exactly the right way.  However, a major lie that we tell ourselves as business owners is that WE are the only people who can accomplish these tasks, or accomplish them as good we expect them to be done.

Not only is it untrue that others can almost always do these tasks just as well as us, but they can often do them better. This was a very hard pill to swallow for me as a business owner and recovering control freak, but it could not be more true.

How to Generate Funds for Unforeseen Costs in Your Indoor Playground Business

How to Generate Funds for Unforeseen Costs in Your Indoor Playground Business

What can I do, as a small business owner, to cover emergency costs?

Even though every small business would ideally have an “emergency” fund and a large cushion in case of unforeseen costs, that’s not always reality. No matter what industry you’re in or how your indoor playground is structured, there is ALWAYS something that needs attention or maintenance or updating or fixing, and that emergency fund depletes itself pretty regularly.

But what happens when a LARGE unforeseen cost presents itself?

We have faced at least one major unforeseen cost per year here at Climbing Vines and have had to figure out how to handle it on the fly. The first year, we mistakenly did not plan well for the summer season and as a result, had about $5k in bills we couldn’t pay. While those were not technically unforeseen costs, it WAS unexpected that we would not be able to pay for them as we normally would. Our second year, we had hired a new accountant and accidentally grossly underpaid our sales taxes, resulting in a $4,000 bill.

How to Validate your Indoor Playground Business Concept

How to Validate your Indoor Playground Business Concept

So you want to open an indoor playground business. Or, maybe you just have a pinterest board called “play cafe inspo”, or “business ideas”. Wherever you are in your journey, I’d venture to guess that you’ve pictured what life might be like if you actually moved forward with your plan and chased your dream.

However, you’re also probably overwhelmed with the idea of getting started and you’re probably nervous about not getting the funding you need, not getting the support you want from family and friends, and about opening your doors and having NO ONE come through them.

I get it-- it’s scary. I’ve been there.

But the BEST place to start is to go through an established framework to validate your business concept. Validating your idea and deciding if the business model you hope to run can be profitable in your area will help give you clarity on whether or not you should move forward, whenever the time is right for you personally and financially.

What to Do if One of Your Indoor Playground Business Ideas FAILS

What to Do if One of Your Indoor Playground Business Ideas FAILS

If you are considering opening an indoor playground or if you own one already, it is your job as the visionary and the owner of the business to think about the big picture ideas and initiatives and really perfect the revenue streams in your business.

But what happens when you make a decision that doesn’t pan out?

Let’s say you had a great idea for a service offering, or a class, or an event that you were REALLY excited about. You spent tons of time creating it, promoting it, and executing it.

However, for whatever reason, it didn’t work out the way you’d hoped. Maybe it wasn’t as profitable or as well attended as you expected, or perhaps people just didn’t seem interested.

In this blog I want to give you 2 examples of things that either just did NOT turn out to be profitable for us and why, and let you know what we did to pivot and either make changes, or even scrap the initiatives altogether.