Ready for the summer slowdown?
Every business is different; some businesses, like water parks, custard stands or beachside businesses heat up as the mercury rises. Many other businesses cool down. That doesn't mean you should resign yourself to lower profits; instead, take the opportunity to step back and think of ways to improve your business. Here are four ways to make the most of this down time.
- Assess your goals.
By June or July, you should have a pretty good idea if your business is on track to meet your annual projections. Take out that list of goals you wrote at the beginning of the year, and make sure you are sticking to them. If not, call your MO SBTDC or PTAC counselor to assist. You might also call key customers and get their feedback as well. They will likely be flattered you want their opinion and will provide good tips to keep them, and all future customers, satisfied.
- Rev up your website, email, social marketing.
Is your website simple, easy to read and navigate? Does it feature an intuitive order form, clear pricing, a prominent address and phone number? More and more consumers are shopping on mobile devices, and if a customer can't find you or order with a few clicks, you may lose their business. Old-fashioned order forms in Word, Excel or other formats that have to be filled out, saved then emailed just don't work well in 2013.
Don't have a website? Now's the time to build one. (See "Get your business online — free.")
If your site allows customers to ask for estimates, set up an automatic email response with a list of rates. Use these slower months to create and automatically send email coupons or information about sales and new products, too. Summer is also a great time to improve your social media skills and increase your connections, presence and buzz on sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
- Network and training.
Getting away to a conference or training event (see training calendar) to learn how to better operate your business is smart, certainly, but also provides invaluable networking opportunities. Don't be afraid to start a conversation! Chances are the person to your left is curious about your business and how you've gotten as far as you have. This is as true at a barbecue, picnic or Royals or Cardinals game as at a conference, so never leave home without your business cards, either. If you have employees with down time, send them to training events. If you have sales staff, this is a good time to bring them in to talk about their goals, share their perspectives and hear their war stories. It's a rare business where every employee has the same experiences.
- Forget about it!
Small business owners are notoriously hard workers, taking little or no time off, even in the summer. But taking even a short break to see that blockbuster movie, visit an art exhibit in the city or relax at the lake or river will recharge your batteries and return you refreshed, relaxed and ready to take on the world. Remember, you're not just a business owner but a husband or wife, father or mother and son or daughter with many varied interests — even if you have little time for them.
For help with revving up your business, contact your local Small Business
& Technology Development Center.
This story was featured in the June 2013 newsletter