By Emily Pope, Fundera
Summer is all about fun: beach vacations, dinners on the patio, fancy iced coffee drinks, big blockbuster movies. But to many business owners, summer means one thing: the slow season.
Around this time of year, a lot of businesses see a natural lull that, unfortunately, just can’t be avoided. School is out, and more people are off the clock for family vacations.
But that doesn’t mean it must be an unproductive time. In fact, it can be a great time to get your business in gear for when things start to pick back up. Here are some of the best ways to keep busy (and keep your employees busy) during the slow season.
1. Revamp your budget
Especially now, when you’ll see sales naturally taper off a bit. It’s a good time to start scaling back when you can.
When things are busy, it’s easy to let your business budget fall by the wayside and simply pay each bill as it comes in. But if you’re not paying close attention to your spending, you could be throwing money away — without even knowing it.
Now that things have slowed down, take the time to comb through your expenses and see where you can cut back. Who knows? You may find a money-saving area that gives you more room elsewhere in your budget to pay for more inventory, so you’re prepared when business picks up again.
2. Set yourself up for tax time
Taxes can be a pain for any business owner, but they’re unavoidable. So the more you prepare for them, the easier they’ll be.
If you haven’t already started, get all your tax documents prepared now. These will include everything from business expenses and receipts to all the forms you’ll need for payroll taxes.
Need a primer on record keeping? Check out this IRS resource.
3. Boost employee morale
Happy employees are good for business. Company culture is more important than ever, and as a business owner, you know how important your role is in creating it.
You’ve likely been thinking up workplace morale programs you want to implement, but when the busy season is hectic, it can be tough to find the time for one. But now that things have slowed down, it’s the perfect time to introduce a new program.
There are a number of ways you can boost employee morale to make your team even more excited to come to work each day. Maybe you can take advantage of the nice summer weather to host a field day. Or host a friendly health and wellness competition to see who can do the most exercise per week. Or try something simpler. Go out to a happy hour as a team.
The more effort you put in now to foster a happy work environment, the better off you and your team will be once the busy season kicks into gear.
4. Launch a campaign
In addition to company morale programs, there are likely other projects you’ve wanted to tackle but simply haven’t gotten around to. Perhaps you’ve meant to start a company blog or newsletter.
The good news is that a lot of these projects aren’t actually all that time-consuming. If you want to launch a newsletter, for example, you already have your list of contacts together. All you have to do is find a platform (MailChimp is a great one) and someone to drum up some quality content and schedule them out.
Now that things have slowed down, it’s a great time to dedicate some work hours to a project you’ve had on the back burner. Pick something that only takes a few days. Chances are, you’ll be motivated by that small accomplishment to start even more new projects to help your business.
5. Follow up with current and potential clients
Sometimes, following up on stalled pitches feels like wasted time. But now that you’ve entered the slow season, you have all the time in the world.
Lulls in business are the perfect time to follow up on upcoming and pending projects. Current clients will appreciate that you took the time to follow up with them, while following up with past clients may even lead to new business.
6. Take thorough inventory
Look, it’s no fun. But taking inventory of your products is necessary to keep your business running smoothly, and you’ll thank yourself later.
Go through everything in your warehouse to make sure you have an accurate count of what’s in stock. Not only will you know what does and doesn’t need ordering, but you’ll be setting your business up for smooth sailing when things inevitably get busier.
7. Do a full-on de-clutter
Again, it’s not the most exciting way to spend your workday. But in the end, having an organized, well-kept workspace can do wonders.
Do you have records that can be condensed? What about office supplies — is the common closet an absolute mess? Is there expired half and half in the shared refrigerator?
No matter what type of workspace you’re dealing with, there’s likely something that could use a little organization. Just like you spring clean your house, take some time to summer clean your office. You and your employees will be more than happy when it’s September and everything is in its proper place while the phone is ringing off the hook.
8. Take a break
It may sound new-age, but it’s true: A work-life balance is important, even for business owners.
Summer vacation isn’t just reserved for students. While you might feel guilty leaving your desk when your schedule is booked for weeks on end, there should be nothing stopping you from taking a little break now that things have slowed down.
Do yourself a favor: Get out of the office for a vacation or take a small staycation. You’ll come back clear-headed and well rested, ready to take on whatever comes next.