Summertime, and business is slow—at least for many entrepreneurs. Chances are your customers and contacts are taking time off, spending fewer hours in the office and working less diligently when they are there. Instead of feeling frustrated by the unanswered emails and unreturned calls, why not use the slow season to grow your business? Here are 9 ideas for using downtime to power up your company.
- Get organized. Clean out physical and virtual junk from your office. Shred unnecessary files. (View IRS guidelines for what papers to keep.) Scan documents you must retain and store them in the cloud. Purge your computer files of unneeded apps, documents and junk and organize what’s left. Finally, clean your office space and donate books, furnishings and equipment you’re not using. Clearing clutter will clear your mind.
- Update your technology. Is your computer hardware and software up-to-date? Is everyone on staff running compatible systems and versions? Do you and your people have the mobile devices you need to work? If not, make a list of what’s needed so you can research pricing and deals.
- Learn a new skill. If you’ve always wanted to really understand SEO, marketing automation, website coding or any other skill to help you be a better business owner, look for online or offline courses from your industry association, vendors or local adult education programs.
- Provide employee training and development. Talk to your employees about where they see themselves in the future and figure out ways to help them get there. Provide cross-training so people learn to do each other’s jobs—and to appreciate the role everyone plays in the company’s success.
- Touch base with customers. Follow up with customers who haven’t bought from you in a while. Everyone’s more relaxed in summer, so suggest coffee or lunch to discuss what’s going on with their businesses and how your business can help.
- Build team bonds. Use downtime for team-building activities like Friday night bowling, Friday afternoon beer busts or a company picnic. Bring in pizza for lunch one day a week or hold a potluck. Relaxing together helps your employees work better together.
- Do strategic planning. Use summer for big-picture thinking. Set aside a day each week to focus on the future of your business, either by yourself or meeting with key employees. To really get ideas flowing, hold an all-hands offsite meeting to spend a day brainstorming with your whole team. Then develop an action plan so you can hit the ground running come fall.
- Review your finances. Is your cash flow actually flowing? How can you speed payments or cut costs? Will those big growth plans require working capital or additional investments? Plan now for how you’ll finance your dreams.
- Take time off. Don’t use all your summer downtime to work on the business. Take a vacation and really unplug. Your business can’t grow if you’re too burned out to guide it. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm, and you’ll be ready to roll come Labor Day.
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