With the exception of a few seasonal companies, August is a sluggish month for both large and small businesses. Clients and employees are on vacation and kids are on summer break. Everyone’s focus seems to be anywhere and everywhere but the office, with projects coming to a grinding halt and new projects get pushed back to fall.
All of this disruption can wreak havoc on your business, but the summer slowdown can also be a great opportunity to invest time in your company so you’ll be in a great position when things get rolling again. Here are six tips for making the most of the summer slow-down:
Grow your network
Get out of the office and away from email. Take advantage of people’s lighter summer schedules to get out and meet with some of your top clients, former colleagues, and industry contacts. Chances are they’re more likely to have time to meet you for coffee or lunch now. You never know where a casual meetup will lead…a valuable referral, a new project, or just a great conversation.
Learn something new
Summer is the perfect time to pick up a new skill. Set a goal to explore one new area, such as understanding how to boost your Google ranking or learn a new customer management system. There are plenty of seminars and online webinars to choose from.
For example, SCORE offers a range of online workshops, from how to lower credit card swipe fees to understanding Google analytics. The Social Media Marketing University offers an online seminar every Thursday. Whatever you need to learn to make your business better, now is the perfect time to start.
Get ahead on your blog
Feeding the blog beast can be a real chore, particularly when you are stacked to the eyebrows with client needs and the day-to-day demands of your peak periods. However, a neglected blog won’t drive traffic to your website, build a community, or grow your business.
Summer can be a great time to get organized with an upcoming editorial calendar for your blog. You can stockpile a handful of posts to turn to when things heat up and blogging gets pushed way down on your priority list. Keep in mind that you need to write about timeless topics; your thoughts on the World Cup are going to be very dated come October.
Get on top of your financial books
Do you typically wait until tax time to dig out your past year’s expenses? How well do you understand how much money your business pulls in and spends on a quarterly basis? You can’t make sound financial decisions for your company if you don’t have a firm grasp of your financial picture.
Your existing billing or accounting app probably has extra features you have never tried. There are plenty of specialized apps too. For example, MileIQ records your business travel. Expensify tracks small business expenses, while Shoeboxed manages your paper receipts and Slice pulls information from e-receipts in your email inbox. FreshBooks offers a simple way to combine many of these bookkeeping functions under one roof.
By finding the right tools to get organized, you can breeze through next year’s tax season.
Do a summer clean
The slow pace of summer makes it an ideal time to clean, file, and de-clutter. Dedicate one hour per week to get your paper filing up to date (you may need more time if your paper piles are particularly gruesome). Recycle all those journals you have been meaning to read. If you haven’t looked at something in the past year, chances are you never will. Consider how frequently you use everything sitting on your desk. Place the things you use often in a convenient place such as the top drawer; then trash or stash the rest.
Lastly, be sure to take some time for yourself. Turn off the phone for a few hours, put the laptop away for a day, or take a week-long vacation. You have worked hard the whole year and deserve your own downtime to recharge the batteries.