The Summer Solstice takes place tomorrow making it the longest day of the year. For many small business owners, the official arrival of summer brings with it an inevitable slowdown in both customer demand and employee productivity. If your business is seasonal, it may mean sales come to a complete halt.
The good news is you can maximize summer downtime by working on your business and providing motivation for your team. Here are several ways to make the most of the off-season and position your company for growth when business picks up again.
Embrace the Spirit of the Season
Instead of trying to maintain a “business as usual” attitude, embrace the season by incorporating activities that give employees a chance to take a break from pressing projects. This can be as simple as hosting a company picnic, ice cream social, or group sports outing that creates an opportunity for staff to build camaraderie outside of the office.
Many businesses relax their dress codes during the warm summer months. Others experiment with theme days, inviting employees to wear clothing sporting logos of their favorite teams or something distinctly tropical. Be specific about office attire “dos and don’ts” to avoid any confusion as to what is and is not acceptable.
Some small business owners, particularly those with limited staff, create a culture where their employees feel guilty taking time off. However, it is important that you encourage workers to use their vacation time. Stepping away from workplace pressures is vital in today’s business environment where heavy workloads and increased stress can lead to employee burnout. Effectively managing vacation schedules will go a long way towards keeping your staff relaxed and engaged, not only during the summer, but all year long.
Focus on the Big Picture
If your customers or vendors take time off during the summer, use the downtime wisely by working on your business instead of in your business. Set aside time to tackle a company business plan or update your marketing plan. Review where you stand with accomplishing your yearly goals. If you started January with a list of action steps and expected results, determine what has been accomplished and what remains. Use any extra time to complete a few more items on the “To Do” list.
Depending on your industry, this may be a good time to conduct market research to determine what customers think of your business and the products and services you offer. Develop a short survey to gauge your customers’ buying habits and how you can better serve their needs. Get a read on the market or demographic trends that might impact your business later this year, and use the data to better position your business for growth post-Labor Day.
Manage Your Inventory
Having too much stock or too much cash tied up in slow-moving inventory can have a negative impact on cash flow. Evaluate what you currently have on hand and be objective. If there are products sitting on the shelves that only sell sporadically or you have excess inventory that has become obsolete due to a shift in customer demand, unload it. Even if you sell it at a discount, you’ll be able to use that cash to purchase items that you know will turn over more quickly.
Avoid buying inventory simply to stock up for future orders or purchasing a product in hopes that one day your customers may want it. It may end up taking a very long time to turn these goods back into cash.
Update Your Online Image
When was the last time you visited your company website? Almost 50 percent of business websites have outdated or incorrect information or dead links. Review the key pages of your site for accuracy and refresh stale content so that it addresses your customers’ current needs. Check out competitor sites to see if they are doing something that could benefit your business, and make changes accordingly.
Invest in Employee Education
Competent and informed employees are naturally motivated to ensure your company’s success as well as their own. If your seasonal business is slow during the summer, use the downtime to invest in educating your staff.
There are numerous ways to provide training for your team. Investigate local colleges and community organizations that may offer affordable professional classes in the evenings or during the workday. Send employees to seminars or bring in consultants who can provide training that is in line with the newest standards or innovations in your industry. This will break up the daily routine and equip your team with the skills and knowledge to become better professionals and make your business more competitive.
Take a Break
According to Office Depot’s Small Business Index, 66% of small business owners find it difficult, at least sometimes, to take a vacation from work during the summer. If your business dips this time of year, make it a point to recharge by taking a break from all things work related. With a little advance planning, you will be able to leave your business in capable hands and avoid that wish-I-had-taken-time-off feeling when things pick up again in September.
Get Your Finances in Order
June is the perfect time to conduct a mid-year review of your company’s finances. Learn how to interpret balance sheets and profit and loss reports. Analyze your cash flow to get a full understanding of when money will be coming in and when it will not. Investigate resources for accessing additional cash when your operating expenses exceed your income.
Working with a partner like Summit Financial Resources will help ensure that you have stabilized cash flow to cover shortages whenever they arise. We offer working capital loans that involve using your accounts receivable and other assets as collateral. We can mix and match from a variety of product options to suit your needs, including invoice factoring, asset-based lending, inventory lending, and equipment financing. This means you can make the most of what summer has to offer and have access to the working capital you need to keep your business growing the rest of the year.
Working Capital Financing is a few clicks away.
Summit Financial Resources specializes in working capital financing for small to medium-sized businesses that need increased cash flow. We provide working capital financing through invoice factoring, asset-based lending, inventory lending, and equipment financing.