Challenge 1: Your customers are on vacation
Consider this slower season a gift of time. Most small business owners are so crazed putting out day-to-day fires that they put off the longer-term projects for “some day.”
Make that day now. If you keep a file of “some day” projects, review it and prioritize the more pressing ones, or those that will provide the best return on your time investment. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Send thank-you notes to customers. Real, handwritten ones will make you stand out.
- Look ahead to the holiday season and start getting marketing plans in place.
- Do an informal audit of your suppliers. Are there opportunities to consolidate them so you have fewer vendors? Should you get updated bids? Your vendors might be able to give more thoughtful attention to your requests in the summer.
- Tackle systems updates. Check out new accounting software or learn how to more effectively use a program like Excel or WordPress.
- Conduct new business. Many of your prospects might have more time to meet with you, and there could be less competition for their attention.
- Don’t forget some of your more established clients. Have a leisurely lunch with them or see if you can help them with their summer slide.
Challenge 2: Your staff is less productive
Is your staff itching to get out of the office and enjoy summer weather? If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Here are some ways to let your staff soak up the sun while taking care of business:
- Take work outside. If possible, let your employees work in the fresh air. It might lower their stress and boost creativity.
- Encourage walking meetings. Getting out of the conference room is good for your heart and your soul.
- Relax the dress code. If you are having fewer client meetings, consider letting staff wear shorts or sandals. Provide a written policy to make it clear what constitutes acceptable attire.
- Consider summer hours. Not all businesses can take advantage of a flexible schedule, but if you can make “Friday afternoons off” an official policy, your staff is likely to spend more time working harder and less time musing about how to duck out.
Challenge 3: Your business is seasonal. And that season isn’t summer
Many retail outlets have this mastered: like the coffee place that adds ice cream to its menu, or the ski store that stocks biking and hiking equipment as the weather turns.
But some stores don’t have a natural warm weather pair. Here are a few ways to get the cash register ringing:
- Create special discounts, like buy one, get one free — or gift with purchase — to entice visitors.
- Offer a special workshop that can keep kids busy while their parents browse.
- Tweak your marketing to include a summer theme to grab shoppers’ attention. Think Christmas in July, or discounts on early holiday purchases.
Challenge 4: You want a vacation
This is an easy one: Go. Now. Small business owners know it’s hard to take time off, but that’s a recipe for burnout.
If your business dips in the summer, why not take vacation, too? Of course, you’ll want to give your staff and clients plenty of notice, but a summer slowdown is an ideal time for you to also recharge.
About the Author
Cathie Ericson is a freelance writer covering business and consumer topics. She creates branded content for Fortune 500 companies, and her work has appeared on LearnVest, Costco Magazine, Forbes, TheGlassHammer.com and IDEA Fitness. Follow her @cathieericson.