4 Ways to Prep Your Business for a Summertime Slowdown
Swimming? Sailing? S'mores? Who the heck wants to work in the summer? Answer: You do.
While the public at large enjoys the sunshine of summer, many entrepreneurs absolutely dread the "summertime slump."
We may not be able to point the finger at a single reason why many businesses both online and off tend to move at a snail's pace as the weather heats up, but some symptoms of the summertime slowdown include:
Holidays and vacations break up the traditional flow of the workweek for your workers and customers alike.
Many businesses, especially retailers, focus on the fall and winter months as their bread and butter for sales, versus the spring and summer.
The general laid-back attitude of summer often means less stringent deadlines, fewer new projects and a lighter workload.
All that being said, summertime doesn't necessarily have to spell gloom and doom for businesses. Whether you're a web-based entrepreneur or currently handle a team face-to-face, consider the following four ways to ensure that your business survives the summertime slump. With a bit of luck and some creativity, you might even benefit from it.
Talk with your team.
It doesn't matter whether you're working with dedicated employees, freelancers or remote workers: you need to outline crystal-clear expectations for your team during the summer months.
For example, if anyone's not going to be available for an extended period of time, you should strive to know as far in advance as possible (at least two weeks), so you're not caught understaffed. By knowing in advance when your team members will and won't be shuffled around, you can plan out essential meetings and deadlines accordingly.
Bear in mind also that the summer represents a prime time to reflect on hiring. Typically, businesses hire fewer workers over the summer: As such, it's certainly not the ideal time of year to cut talent loose. However, take a moment to assess your own team members and their performance, as you've reached the halfway point of the year to start thinking about what your staff needs in the coming months.
Hold off on huge projects.
Unless you work in an industry which thrives during the summer (think: hospitality or tourism), it's probably best to press the pause button on any new product launches or marketing campaigns. Not only will holding off effectively keep more money in the bank, but will also allow you to wait until your team's heads are 100 percent in the game.
Some critics may argue that timing is overrated in terms of launches, and they're not necessarily wrong. After all, the launch that happens at all is often much better than one that never got off the ground, right? Besides, not all startup ideas rely on a particular "season" or time of year to gain traction.
However, starting early on your biggest projects affords you some wiggle room with your budget and resources. When in doubt, you'll find that it's better to allocate an extra month or two of prep time, versus churning out something that simply isn't ready.
Don't use the slow months as an excuse to slack, either. Use this time to look toward the future and think about the bigger picture of your business and its next major project.
Reassess your spending habits.
Much as you might want to rethink your team at the midway point of the year, the summer months are a great time to slash any needless expenses.
Perhaps you've realized that your latest social campaign is a complete bust, or that that freelancer you hired to take care of your marketing content just isn't cutting it. Even the seemingly smallest cuts can add up over time and help grow your nest egg during the off-season.
Although you don't necessarily have to start pinching pennies over the summer, erring on the side of caution with your business's budget is always a safe bet.
Rethink your products and services.
Here's the elephant in the room for many small businesses that struggle over the summer: Why do you have an off-season in the first place?
Sure, it's easy to blame your industry, but what if there were steps you could take to strengthen your bottom line year-round? Savvy entrepreneurs should constantly look for new opportunities to sell without reinventing the wheel or investing too much initial capital. Consider strategies such as:
Monetizing your company blog, via offers and affiliates, to create an additional stream of revenue
Creating subscription-based products that guarantee steady payments month after month
Using your expertise to your advantage, selling your knowledge in the form of informational products (think: ebooks, online courses, webinars) or consulting services
While you aren't expected to roll out these additional opportunities tomorrow, they're definitely something you can start thinking about during your downtime.
Rather than allow your business to fall prey to the summertime slump, do everything in your power to be proactive. Don't worry about "what-if's" or the possibilities of your bottom line falling behind. Instead, think about how you can use the slower months to actually bolster your business in the long run.
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