Summer… what does it mean for you? Sunshine? School holidays? Time away from the office? Travel? Summer is a wonderful time of year, but when you’re self-employed, it can also be hugely challenging. Staff and collaborators also need time off, which makes juggling resources and response times more difficult. There are far more demands on our time from non-work commitments, and ironically, work/life balance can become a challenge. Equally, if you are fortunate to be able to wind down your business over the summer months (and it’s perfectly ok if you do!), how will you make sure you can pick things up again and hit the ground running in the autumn? All of these things mean that taking time to prepare your small business for summer – and doing it now – is crucial.
What does summer look like for you?
The first step in preparing your small business for summer, is to think about what summer looks like. Will you take some time off? For how long? Will you completely switch off? Or will you just be a little bit quieter and less visible than you normally would be?
And what does this mean financially? If you are intending to slow down, have you built this into your financial management? Even if it is summertime, you still have bills to pay, both personally and professionally.
If you’re a working parent with small people, like me, then there’s the childcare juggle to factor in. Are we talking summer camps and activities? Other forms of childcare? Or are you planning to change your own schedule and work perhaps early mornings are evenings with family time in the middle?
Whatever summer looks like, take some time to ‘design’ it now. Then the next step is to work out how to make it happen.
5 tips to prepare your small business for summer.
As I mention above, putting in place mechanisms and plans to prepare your small business for summer is incredibly important. To help you, I’ve put together my top 5 tips:
1) Plan, plan, plan
First, it’s time to get your diary out – or your online calendar if you prefer. Whichever works best for you. Make sure everything is in there that is already planned so you have all of your commitments in one place. None of that juggling different diaries for different things – that’s just making things complicated. Block out time off. Work out when family time is and where you need external child care. Schedule when you’re going to do different tasks (and remember to break them down into manageable stages). Think about when you need to be working, when not, and when you can be more flexible. Just focus on getting everything you need to get done in a single place.
2) Set expectations and boundaries
The second step in preparing your small business for summer is to set realistic expectations and boundaries both for yourself and your family, and also for your clients and collaborators. For example, if you’re juggling childcare and business, summer probably isn’t the right time to be launching new things or starting complicated new projects. Likewise, holding long meetings in the middle of the day with children around, may be impractical. So think carefully about what you can achieve during the summer months and plan accordingly.
Whereas the second point was about setting expectations, this third point is about communicating them with others. If you’re planning to take a few weeks off, let your clients and collaborators know in plenty of time. Actively make sure (and don’t assume) they all have everything you need before your Out Of Office goes on so you don’t end up with an emergency phone call or message while you’re poolside.
It’s also important to make sure that you communicate your intentions clearly through indirect means too. Update your auto-responders to make sure that you’re managing expectations when it comes to response times. Put a banner on your website. Let people know what they can expect from your business and when they can expect it by.
4) Check your cash flow
Preparing your small business for summer is not just about the outward-facing activities, or the things (like life!) that go on around it. It’s also about the internal mechanics of what you do. Most notably, it’s vital to check in with your cash flow. Why? Because even if you’re slowing down and taking a bit of a break, you still have bills to pay, both personally and professionally. If you are taking some time off, you have two options. You can either:
- Plan for reduced revenue over the summer months and include the ‘dip’ in your financial forecast, or
- Create opportunities for passive income
5) Schedule and automate
This fifth tip is good practice all year round, but it’s particularly helpful in summer, or at any time when you’re away from your desk! By scheduling your emails or social media ahead of time, you can ensure that your business remains visible to others, even when you’re taking time off. Equally, by automating your processes as much as possible, you can still provide excellent customer service, without needing always to be connected!
A big job?
All of these steps might sound like something of a big job – but the thing is, once you’ve put in place the right steps to prepare your small business for summer, you can roll them out every year!
The good news is though, that if you start now, you have plenty of time to get organised and put these things in place. And even better, you’ve got me to help you if you need. Keep following the blog for more tips and ideas on how to prepare your small business for summer and if you want to discuss what it means for your business, book a free consultation.