How to Start a Summer Business

If you’re not ready to jump into running your own business full time, a summer business could be ideal. These types of ventures are seasonal and designed around the warmer times of the year, when tourists travel and everyone wants to enjoy the sunshine.

For people who know they’re not going to be as busy in the summer, like students or teachers, summer businesses are a great opportunity for a low-risk introduction to the world of entrepreneurship. Starting a summer business will teach you about the basics of administration, business finance, marketing, profit margins and more. They are a great way to stay busy, gain new skills, make some extra income and who knows - maybe expand into something bigger.

We want to help you get your summer business off the ground.

Since 2004, we’ve helped over 500,000 people become entrepreneurs, starting exciting businesses and bringing their ideas to life. We’ll give you the support, guidance and advice you need to create a business and make it into a success.

Here is our simple guide to launching a successful summer business. From exploring the types of business you can start to the legalities of setting up your business and the realities of your day-to-day operations, this guide is here to help.

Read on for some insight into creating your own summer business and becoming an entrepreneur.

Summer Business Ideas - What Type of Business Should You Start?

Some businesses are especially well-suited to being run on a seasonal basis. Here are some great ideas:

1

Tutoring and Coaching

With kids being out of school, they and their parents may be looking for extra practice for sports, hobbies or academics. You can take advantage by offering private lessons.

2

Babysitting and Childcare Services

Because kids can’t go to school or daycare in the summer months, some parents might want additional help looking after their children.

3

Yard Work and Chores

Summer is a busy time in the yard or garden, yet many people take longer vacations away from home. Think about offering weeding services, mowing lawns, watering plants or caring for animals.

4

Local Tour Guide

If you know your city or the surrounding region well, you could set up a business providing interesting tours to visitors. You can even theme tours around unique local features or customs.

5

Vacation Planning and Travel Agent

Vacation and itinerary planning can take up an enormous amount of time. You can reduce this stress and hassle for other travelers by providing booking, administration and other tourism services.

6

Airbnb or Vacation Home Host

Airbnb’s are becoming increasingly popular - if you have a property that you can fully or partially rent out, summer is going to be one of the busiest times. Alternatively, you could also rent out a vacation home yourself or through a property management company.

6

Activity and Summer Camp Coordinator

Kids are looking for something fun to do over the summer season. Enriching activities or summer camp experiences can be very attractive to parents and children - you may be surprised at the rates you can command, especially if you're a trained educator.

Validating Your Summer Business Idea

You will need to think about the type of summer business you want to run, then research, refine and validate your ideas. Start by making sure you have the right skillset. For example, if you’re going to tutor or teach, do you have sufficient subject matter expertise to get the lessons across?

Not every idea you have will actually become a summer business. There are all sorts of reasons to say “yes” or “no” to specific businesses, so think about what your strengths and weaknesses are so you can choose a business you’d be great at.

Don’t assume that just because you have a summer business, running it and making money will be easy.

Even seasonal businesses have competitors, and you need to stand out, deliver superior products and services and excel in your chosen area.

Getting started in a summer business is easy, but becoming a success is harder. Before committing too much time, energy and money into your new summer business, it’s important to test the marketplace. Here's how:

Identify your unique selling points (USPs)

What does your summer business have that others do not? Whether you’re competing on features, price, quality, speed or something else, make sure you stand apart from competitors and encourage customers to come to you.

Talk to clients

Speak with potential customers to understand what they want from your products and services, and validate this by asking if they would commit to spending real money on it.

Understand your market

Clearly identify exactly who your customers are likely to be, where they hang out and how you’re going to reach them. Remember that with seasonal businesses, precisely marketing to tourists, parents or other niches will be critical.

Not every idea you have will actually become a summer business. There are all sorts of reasons to say “yes” or “no” to specific businesses, so think about what your strengths and weaknesses are so you can choose a business you’d be great at.

Your Summer Business Needs a Plan

Business plans are easily overlooked by summer businesses - after all, if you’re only managing a business for part of the year, you don’t need a business plan, right? Wrong.

Business plans will help you define how you’re going to run your summer business, market yourself, get sales, make a profit and grow. A business plan forces you to take your summer business seriously, so you can ask and answer tough questions that will make it easier to be a success.

Business plans do vary slightly, but they should all cover the following areas:

1

An executive summary with the most important points from your business plan

2

Your goals and what you hope to achieve with your summer business

3

A description of your summer business, background information and context

4

A market analysis and likely demand

5

An overview of how your summer business is structured

6

Your business model

7

How you will market and sell your offerings

8

Financial projections, revenue and profitability

9

Appendices

We’ve got the perfect guide to writing your business plan.

Choose the Right Business Structure and Register Your Summer Business

There are five main business structures you can have in the U.S., and it’s important to choose the right one. We’ve shared your options below. They are:

Sole Proprietorship

This is the "default" business structure and is what your summer business will be if you decide not to create a more formal structure. Although you could use this for a tiny summer business, we don't recommend it as it doesn't give you the legal protections you need.

Partnership Company or LLC

This is a type of business that is formed when two or more people work together without creating a more formal business entity. Like a sole proprietorship, it may not give you all the protections your summer business may need.

Limited Liability Company or LLC

The most common type of business entity, an LLC is fast, simple and inexpensive to set up and maintain. It protects your personal finances and assets and is a great way to start your summer business.

S Corporation

This is a more complex type of business and isn't generally recommended for smaller organizations, like a summer business.

C Corporation

These are the largest and most complex types of businesses and are typically far more than the average entrepreneur or summer business owner will need.

For more information on the advantages and disadvantages of different types of businesses, please see our in-depth guide. If you’ve still got questions, we’ve answered them to help you choose the right business structure for your summer business.

In most cases, our recommendation for a summer business would be to create an LLC. We’ve got a complete guide to everything you need to do, and we can even set one up for your business. LLC formation does vary from state to state, but we’ve got you covered, wherever you are.

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Setting up Your Summer Business and Business Operations

Once you've legally created your summer business, you’ll need to get some other things in place.

Marketing

Although most of your revenue will happen during the summer months, you should be marketing your business over a much longer period. You will want to stay top-of-mind with parents, kids, tourists or whatever target market you’ve chosen. You can do this by having a great website, social media marketing, paid advertising, local flyers or whatever works for your business type. Remember to build excitement in the off months so you can add to your potential client list.

Location

The location you work from will be defined by the type of summer business you start. You can run some seasonal businesses successfully from home, although other businesses may need a retail or specialized location. Remember that if you do need to rent space somewhere, get a short-term contract to ensure you’re not locked into a lease for a long period of time.

Equipment

Depending on how busy your business is, you might need to hire some people over the summer months. If so, you'll need systems to to pay them, provide employee insurance and submit payroll taxes.

Software and Processes

The right software can make it easier to run your summer business; see our great list of the top apps at the end of this guide.

Finances and taxes

You will need a separate business bank account for your summer business. You might also want to consider a business credit card. Additionally, you will also need to keep careful bookkeeping records and file business and personal taxes. Here at Incfile we can even help you file your taxes.

Planning During the Downtime

Take advantage of the spring, fall and winter to plan for your summer business. Experiment with different types of marketing, automate your business administration and talk about your summer business with others. Test out your ideas to see if they can add revenue, and continue tweaking and refining how you approach your business.

Equipment

Depending on the type of summer business you run, equipment needs will vary widely. You won’t have long to recoup your investment, so try and keep your equipment, inventory and other costs as low as possible.

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A Clear and Comprehensive Guide to Starting Your Business the Right Way

Rules, Regulations and Taxes for Your Summer Business

Even though you’re running a summer business, you can’t escape real-world licenses, permits and regulations. You will need to explore local, state and federal licenses and permits, and we can also help out with researching your business licensing needs.

Taxes

Taxes are a fact of life if you’re in business, and there are various ways you will need to file and pay them. This can include self-employment tax, state income tax and federal income tax. Depending on where and how you’re selling products and services, you may also be liable for sales and use tax.

As a rule of thumb, we recommend holding back around a third of your earnings to pay your taxes. We can also prepare and file your tax returns for you.

Maintaining Your Summer Business

There are certain forms and legalities you need to follow to keep your summer business in good standing.

1

File an Annual Report

Most states require all businesses to file a report once a year. This report has details of any major changes to who owns a business and other major impacts on a business’ legal status. We can file your Annual Report on your behalf.

Annual Report
2

Pay estimated taxes

You will be expected to pay estimated taxes on what you plan to earn in the current business year. Typically, you will need to pay estimated taxes in April, June, September and January (of the following year). If you’re only making revenue during part of the year, you should speak with your accountant about the best way to pay estimated taxes.

3

Renew Business Permits and Licenses

Your business will probably have several licenses, permits and other regulations. These typically need to be renewed every year, even if you're only operating during the summer.

4

Prepare Your Taxes

You will need to work with your accountant to prepare all the taxes you need to pay.

5

File your taxes

You will need to file your taxes once a year.

6

Pay payroll and sales taxes

If applicable, you will need to make payroll and sales tax payments on a regular basis.

Useful Online Tools for Your Summer Business

Here are some really great online tools for managing your summer business. They will reduce the time you spend on administration, help you to collaborate with others and free up your time to grow and manage your new venture.

Conclusion

A seasonal business is a great way to see if you want to go into entrepreneurship full time. Summer businesses are a low-risk way to test the waters and see if owning a business is right for you. If you can find a great niche, understand your competitors and put together a solid business plan, you will have every chance for success.

Start your Summer Business with us, today