Finally the summer holidays have arrived and for some businesses this is one of the busiest times of the year, whilst for others it is quiet and a time to reflect, plan and refresh.
Whatever camp your business falls in to there are ways to manage the summer holiday impact in a number of ways, so here are my top 10 ways to survive the summer and all that it brings.
- Be Prepared – unless you are a very new business and this is the first summer you’ve experienced, you should understand what impact the summer brings for you and your business. For me it tends to be a quieter time as my clients take holidays as do I and I tend to have my children all holiday which makes meetings and project work quite tough! Having said that, I use the time to reflect on my successes, work & plan on those area that perhaps need a bit more focus, look at new target markets and get meetings planned in for when ‘normal service resumes’ once the kids are back at school. If your business has one of its busiest times then hopefully you’ll have done your planning already and be in a good place to reap the additional customers and business the summer brings. Either way my key tip is to be prepared – planning is vital as is making sure the planning has been done in plenty of advance!
- Manage your resources – this links to those businesses who have busy summer periods and also have staff that wish to take a summer break themselves – whether that be the business owner or staff. It can be very stressful when you know you need a break but business is booming and your staff want to enjoy the summer too. I would highly recommend that you discuss this with your staff as early as you can do so everyone is clear on the needs of the business over this period. You can then consider looking at temporary employment to cover easily learned tasks, maybe use the time to delegate to a member of your team who is looking for more responsibility or promotion or even look to use some external temporary resource (for example a virtual PA). You may decide not to take your break at this time but allow your staff to; however be sure to book your own time away from the business later in the year so you’re not working yourself in to the ground. Planning your resources in advance will be sure to make your summer of business is much more enjoyable and stress-free.
- Manage your client’s expectations – in any business your relationship with your customer or client is absolutely key, so keeping them up to speed as to what you can offer over the summer is vital. Whether you decide to ‘shut down’ over the summer to assess processes or stock control or you’re running at full speed, you need to ensure your customers know whether they can expect the same service from you throughout the summer months. You can communicate this directly to them when you see or speak to them, advise them in a newsletter, via social media or all of the above – either way they need to know. It may be that your business is continuing as normal which can be a huge advantage over your competitors if they have a break over the summer – be aware and ensure you make the most of any competitive advantage during this time.
- Take a break – ** newsflash ** – no-one in invincible! Yes its true, most of us have incredibly busy lives; no time to sit and reflect, no time to recharge because we feel that unless we’re ‘in the business’ all the time then we’re not ‘working’. In fact, taking time away from your business to reflect, enjoy some time to yourself (and quite often sleep!) is of huge advantage to a small business owner. This time away gives you clarity and a chance to look from a distance as to what can be improved in your business, recognise the successes you have had and take time to celebrate them! It doesn’t have to be a 2 week break in the Maldives, it can be any type of break that you enjoy; however it is vital to build your time off in to the business and your employees/resources to ensure they get the best of you as well as you getting the best of them.
- Take a Digital Break – following on from you physically needing time away from the day to day running of your business, it is also important for you to take a digital break too. If you’re off on a beautiful walking holiday, checking your emails/social media/calling your ‘office’ is not going to give you the break you need. Obviously if you are the business owner you’d be lucky to be able to take a full 2 weeks out without any contact or thought, however there are ways to ensure that you fulfill that chimp desperate to have the contact with work without ruining the ‘me-time’ you are meant to be having. My key tips would be to have a set hour of the day to check your emails or check in with your staff, ideally later afternoon or in the evening so you’re not thinking about issues that rest of the day; try to build in as much social media posting in advance as possible (ie. write the posts and schedule them to be released regularly while you are away); empower your staff to take some of the responsibility while you are away – you can easily make note of some key decisions that need your input but if you have staff that have worked with you for some time they might be looking to dip their toe in the water with some extra responsibilities for a short time.
- Create a library of content – as I mentioned I am lucky enough to be able to take time off within my business to reflect and plan. I also use the time to create a bank of library of articles, blogs and social media content so that once September arrives and my summer break is over I can action these allowing more effective and efficient use of my time with client meetings and new business development, rather than having to start from scratch. And don’t forget that your content doesn’t have to be new every time, reuse some useful or timeless blogs / communications you already have to help remind your audience of vital advice and information.
- Revise goals / strategy / actions – another really useful tip for the summer lull (or winter lull if that’s your business’ trend) is to use the time to revise your goals, look at your strategy and action plans to reach those goals. Many people associate January or the new tax year with setting new goals and creating the actions to reach them, but for me goal setting can be done at any time as long as it’s a time that suits your business. Often the summer months can be quieter for many businesses so take advantage of that, even if you’re taking a break, to let your mind mull over what you’ve achieved, what you’re looking to achieve in the future and some more innovative ideas on how to get there. It’s amazing what a walk in a field or boat ride can do to let the mind be free of the day to day pulls and pushes and allow the ideas to flow.
- Cashflow – unless you’re very lucky and don’t need a regular income, your business will not benefit from a huge dip in income over the summer months because you or your clients are away. Make sure you have all your accounting up to date and know which clients are due to pay you over this period, keeping them up to speed as to when they should be reconciling your invoices. Equally ensure your payments are up to date, you don’t want to arrive home to find you’ve upset a key supplier because you forgot to pay them while you sunned yourself on a beach in Marbs!
- Create a summer promotion or summer led activity – if you are going to be in your business over the summer months and anticipate that your client base may drop off a little due to holidays, then launch a competition or add in some summer based activity to keep people interacting with you. Easy to do over social media, a quick post relating to summer with a prize can create some interest with those who are either not away or who are away but more time to look through social media in a more relaxed manner. If you do decide to run some activity be sure to keep within the guidelines of the platform you are working on to avoid any nasty surprises or your page being pulled!
- Learn and grow yourself – in line with having time to reflect and plan, use your ‘down time’ to learn something new to grow yourself and your capabilities. It might be reading the biography of someone you truly admire, or learning a new social media platform, maybe even just a new hobby. Whatever it is, our brains work better when they are learning – so pick something that’s fun, interests you and makes you concentrate on that sole task and enjoy creating a better version of you.
You can read more about goals and planning on my blog ‘Setting Goals: the rudder to your ship‘ and I hope you enjoy the summer now the sun finally seems to be shining here in the UK!