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Six Tips To Make The Most Of The Summer Slump In whichever way you weather the summer months as a UAE business owner, planned proactivity is a much better alternative to reactive pondering when it comes to the success of your business.

By Aashish Rajesh

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The summer months can be a quiet time of the year for both fledgling startups and established companies across the UAE, since, as the heat picks up, customers, clients, and suppliers take some time out to enjoy vacations.

While a lull can be a bit disconcerting (particularly if you're new to running a company), in fact, a quiet spell can be a great time to catch up on all the tasks you have put aside. And that means focusing on your company's next steps, growth strategy, client roster, and even making time to learn new skills.

So, here are a few ways you can make the most of the summer slump:

1. Overcome the admin burden There's always something that needs attending to, no matter what size your business is, whether it is organizing paperwork, gathering everything needed for your next VAT return, invoicing clients, paying outstanding invoices, budgeting for the year ahead, reviewing contracts and service providers, or simply filing away that mountain of documents that have been clogging up your desk, adjacent chair, or boardroom table for the last three months. Now is the perfect time to tackle all of that.

2. Focus on your current customers Many of the leads you've spent warming up may suddenly go quiet for a while. So, why not use the time to focus on your current client base? There are numerous things you could do:

- Arrange "progress calls" with clients

- Plan face-to-face meetings

- Increase your profile by building bridges with other contacts at your client's company

- Examine client's business and the wider sector in which they operate to better understand their needs

- Create a proposal outlining additional work your company could do for them

Doubling down on existing customers doesn't just increase their loyalty- their positive experiences can lead to new business as well, especially if it means you receive a positive customer testimonial. Perhaps not surprisingly, according to a 2013 study on spokesperson credibility, a company's product or service is viewed much more positively when an actual customer is quoted.

Depending on the type of products and services you offer, you could also consider doing a summer promotion. Lowering your prices during the quiet period could also strengthen already well-established customer relationships.

Related: How To Plot A (Better) Business Strategy For When The Region Travels

3. Conduct some competitor analysis In their 2015 book, Strategic Marketing: Creating Competitive Advantage, the authors assert that "understanding a competitor's strengths and weaknesses provides insight into the firm's ability to initiate and/or react to strategic moves, respond to environmental or industry events, and pursue various strategies."

A little competitor analysis can go a long way. While of course you should avoid directly copying anything, it's worth spending some time to take a closer look at some of the initiatives your closest rivals are working on. For example, you could sign up to their email bulletins, blogs, and newsletters using a personal (or completely new) email address. Also, follow your competitors' social media feeds. Look at their websites. Download their apps. Seeing how they present themselves can be an effective way of understanding how they engage with their customers– the customers your business also serves.

You could also initiate a transaction or enquiry with your competitors as a "customer'. If they sell a particular product via an online store or if they have a nearby retail space, this is quite easy. Doing so will give you an insight into how slick (or slack) their customer experience is.

4. Work on your long-term strategy While most good companies will define their objectives from the very start, it never hurts to review and refine your business strategy. In order to take stock of where your company is moving from and to, you could:

- Carry out a SWOT analysis of your business to gauge its current position

- Consider how you see your business growing in two, five, and 10 years' time

- Set financial targets

- Decide what resources, staff, and turnover you need to hit those targets

- Calculate whether you will need to secure additional financing or funding

- Assess what assets your business has/will have in the future

- Review marketing activity

- Define your company vision

- Outline what your overall picture of success should look like

Related: The Do's And Don't's Of Doing Business In Dubai

5. Cultivate new skills This could encompass learning a new language, brushing up on your coding, delving deeper into SEO, social media, blogging, design, and so on. A quiet spell is a great time to boost your current skillset, revisit previous learning, and jump into a new topic that could grow your business' offerings.

This doesn't necessarily mean going back to the classroom. There are hundreds of online (often free) resources, courses, and platforms on offer. Many of these are authenticated by prestigious international universities and have seen tremendous results. According to a 2015 study, online education was found by 92% of participants to be "at least as effective, if not better, than traditional education." After all, the more you can do yourself, the less you need to spend on outsourcing to other businesses.

6. Encourage team members to take leave If your business is driven by your client's calendar, then it makes sense to encourage your staff to take their leave at the same time as your client. Similarly, if your business is footfall-based, such as restaurants, gyms, beauty salons, then your employees should take their time off when international residents leave the UAE for holidays.

Vacation time has wider implications for overall staff happiness, and thus retention, as well. A study carried out in 2011 by the US National Institutes of Health shows that 60% of employees experienced a substantial improvement in health and wellbeing after a vacation. And don't forget, you could use the slower months to take a short holiday yourself. A little time away from the hustle and bustle of work life can help you get some perspective– allowing you to return refreshed and ready for action.

In whichever way you weather the summer months as a UAE business owner, planned proactivity is a much better alternative to reactive pondering when it comes to the success of your business.

With July just around the corner, now's the time to start as you mean to go on.

Related: Three Strategies For A Profitable Summer

Aashish Rajesh

Director of Corporate Communications, Worldwide Formations

Aashish Rajesh oversees all corporate communications at Worldwide Formations. This involves devising and executing creative business strategies to enhance the overall performance of the company. He has a wealth of experience working in the Middle East, having held several leadership roles in a broad range of industries, from design to brand development. He holds numerous academic qualifications, including a BSc in design management from the American University of Sharjah.

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