If you stop to think about it, is your business cyclical? Do you have some months or times of year where business is booming, and others where it all but grinds to a halt? For many entrepreneurs (myself included), summer is often that slow period. It can be frustrating, both financially and mentally, to have less work coming in. But if you plan ahead, getting through this year’s summer slump will be a breeze.
- Look at your history and plan a deficit budget
If you’re not sure what summer typically looks like for you revenue-wise, take a moment to examine your accounting. Running a profit and loss report will show you your averages across the year, and you may see a significant drop in the middle months.
Take an average of the last three years’ summer revenues. Break it down by month, and assess how much less you likely will make this year on a monthly basis. The deficit might be $100, or it might be $10,000. Wherever it falls, you need to do some planning early to ensure you’ve got money in the bank to cover what you won’t be making this summer.
Divide that summer deficit amount over 12 months, and make sure you put at least that much into savings each month so that you’re not scrambling with a cash crunch when summertime comes.
- Make a list of tasks
I’m willing to bet there is a very long list of things you could be doing if you weren’t occupied with serving clients. Maybe your website needs updating, or your digital files organized. You could take the time to set appointments, or clean your office.
Before the slump sets in, make a list of every project you’ve put off for the past year (or five years). You may not make it through all of them, but whenever you have downtime, rather than browsing Facebook, dedicate yourself to tackling items on the list. As a result, your business will be more streamlined and productive at the end of the summer.
- Market your business
While you should be marketing your business all year long, it’s entirely possible that you’ve put it off when times get busy. After all, if business is good, why market? In fact, marketing when times are good can prevent you from having a slowdown period in the summer. Still, now’s the time to dedicate more time to your marketing.
Spend some time this summer assessing what you’ve been doing. Is each marketing tactic netting you the results you want? You’ll need to spend time in your website analytics as well as social media dashboards to see what’s getting clicks, opens, shares and buys. For anything that’s not doing its job, cut it in favor of something else. Maybe you’ve been investing in Google AdWords, but aren’t seeing the ROI that you want. Reduce or completely eliminate your budget for that and put it into, for example, more social media advertising.
Try new things, as well. If you haven’t ventured into blogging yet, use this summer as an opportunity to ramp up your blog content and get into a natural rhythm of blogging regularly. If you dedicate time to the process and planning now, new habits you set up this summer will be easy to follow in the fall when things get busy.
- Meet other people
Now is an excellent time to network to grow your business contacts. Look for local business networking groups, perhaps for all small business owners or for those in your particular niche. Be open to who you might meet; you might befriend a potential business contact, customer or even friend. Don’t go into networking expecting to make a sale immediately. Networking is a long-term opportunity to get to know others in the group, provide value and build trust. Over time, you may earn a business referral or find other opportunities to get involved in ways that benefit your business.
- Allow yourself a little R&R
While you don’t want to completely take off for the summer and be unproductive, this is the time to cut yourself some slack and spend some quality time outside the office. Maybe you take every Friday off and go hiking to reconnect with nature. Maybe you plan a two-week family vacation, which you’ll enjoy all the more since you have less to worry about at work. Maybe you knock off early midweek for a little shopping therapy. Whatever helps you disconnect from work and reconnect with the things you love is worth doing, because in the long run, it makes you feel rejuvenated and better able to run your business.
A summer slump doesn’t have to be a negative for your business. With a little planning and shifting your energy to other aspects of your business and life, it can be your most productive time of year.