Canada | Small business

5 tips to avoid a business slump this summer

From reviving connections to motivating staff, take advantage of the season by using downtime to fuel an upturn

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Casually dressed business owner, looking out window of his open-concept officeNo need to watch business slide and the summer pass you stuck behind your desk. Use this time to inspire new ideas, and take your work outdoors be it scheduling a team brainstorming session in the park, or attending a networking event to generate contacts. (Getty Images/Hero Images)

Summer’s in full swing and though you’re relaxed, your business can’t afford to be. 

According to 2018 Captivate Office Pulse survey of 362 business professionals, workplace productivity drops 17 per cent and 51 per cent of employees are more distracted once the weather warms up. 

“A dip in business is not inevitable,” says Lisa Kember, president and co-founder, Business Leaders Circle, which assists business leaders and entrepreneurs build scalable businesses. “In fact, summer can actually be a great time to push sales up.” 

These five tips will help keep your business profitable and productive, while allowing you some time off to rejuvenate. 

1) UNLEASH CREATIVITY 

Indulge in things you “love to do” and are passionate about, or try something new, to evoke creativity, rid monotony, and get on track, recommends Toronto-based executive coach, Pam Griffiths.

“We have often come through, especially for CPAs, such a heavy duty last six months that this is really the perfect time to get into some creative space and find ways to reenergize,” she says.   

Those hesitant to take time off can rest assured that productivity wanes when stressed, over-worked, or too focused on business lost, she adds. [see The myth of multitasking: The more you have to do, the less productive you’ll be, research shows]

“New thoughts can occur when we take time away from the day-to-day doing, and come into a more being state,” Griffiths says. “It’s about trusting that when [you] take space and reenergize, [you] will come back with a clearer mind.” 

2) UPLIFT STAFF

Inside the office, with vacations in full swing, you may be short-staffed. And those present at work may have slowed their pace, shares Kember. 

To combat this, Kember recommends implementing summer incentives. According to another Captivate Office Pulse survey about half (44 per cent) of the 188 business professionals surveyed said their employers do not offer seasonal advantages. 

Of those respondents who do have summer office perks, a casual dress code, flexible work hours, and the option to telecommute were most common. Beyond these, consider work-free events that indulge in warm weather such as patio nights, a company barbecue or picnic. Keep sales on track by implementing a contest to kick-start respective teams. “These can encourage the staff to hustle a bit more during the week,” she says.

Griffiths suggests taking meetings outdoors or planning a brainstorming session around an excursion to inspire collaboration and teambuilding. Check in on goals met, set and those in progress at a department and individual level. 

“Sometimes our mission and vision can escape us,” she says. “It’s a really great time to check back in and ask, ‘are we aligned?’, ‘are we attracting the ideal client?…ensure your team knows why you do what you do.” 

3) REVIVE CONNECTIONS

When it comes to your clients, they are likely in the same boat, feeling a dip in business leads and the motivation to generate them. 

Pique their interest, reminding them of what services you offer. Send a summer vacation kit, your latest book or recommended read, or pitch a face-to-face meeting to review their account, suggests Kember. 

“Many business owners, consultants or salespeople check out a bit in the summer. I would suggest that is a missed opportunity,” she says. “Summer is a great time to be bringing in new business or garnering more business from existing clients.”

Socializing and summer go hand in hand, adds Griffiths. Look for networking events where you can make new connections or ignite old ones, attend as a guest speaker, and forge partnerships. When offering deals, avoid dropping your price point, she adds, considering value add-ons to your services instead.

“Sit down and build relationships, schedule appointments with those who may have been on your radar in the past,” she says. “Start those conversations now, because what you do today can impact your fall business.” 

4) OFFLOAD THE TEDIOUS

Tired of tasks that dull your days and suck time away from what inspires you most?

Make a list of the responsibilities you feel motivated by in your job, and then do the same for those that plague you, even keep you up at night (literally), suggests Griffiths. 

Now think of ways you could rid yourself of them. This could mean hiring an expert—freelance or on contract—to take on those tasks inevitably, looking to hire part-time help —an intern, or student, for example—to give you breathing room to focus on what you do best, or considering an exchange of services with a relative business. 

“When we let go of the things that are not [part of] our brilliance, we are much more productive…and have much more energy,” Griffiths says.

For businesses not ready to invest in outsourced talent, strategize how you could divide up your day differently, mixing it up to break up that monotony, Griffiths adds. “Do the things you love the most in the time you have the most energy…and find pockets of time for the mundane,” she says.

5) LOOK AHEAD

Whether it’s for the coming fall or next summer, there are ways to plan and strategize how to garner new business in coming months or avoid any future dips. [See Top 6 business podcasts to keep you inspired this summer]

To ensure a fall boost, Kember recommends planning campaigns in advance, ensuring they are ready to launch at the end of August, with client lists and technological support in place and teams prepared.   

“Spend the summer months preparing to hit the ground running…with a strong business development and marketing effort,” she says. “Schedule your ad campaigns and social media in advance. Do whatever it takes to drive business in September.”

DRIVE GROWTH

Take advantage of CPA Canada’s financial literacy sessions Maximizing Your Business and Financial Survival for Entrepreneurs for small- to medium-sized business owners and entrepreneurs, which share insights into how to successfully generate cashflow, while managing growth and expansion.