Let's face it - the Summer months are not traditionally the time when business owners, entrepreneurs and sales people increase their efforts to grow revenues - there are so many distractions. In many parts of North America this past Winter was, well... pretty bad. Throw in kids being off for a couple months (yours or someone's close to you), a couple of weddings to attend, and oh, those relatives trekking to your part of the world this year. You have a distracted, fractured bunch of time. If you actually notice some sunny days coming your way - that alone can cause you to focus less on the "prize" of business building.
What do we suggest? Definitely don't be a hermit and lock yourself up in front of a laptop for the sake of growing business. Follow our plan below - and actually ENJOY all or part of this nicer time of year - when the days are long, the people are happier, and the weather is generally warmer.
1. Decide what your goals are for the Summer months. (when I was a single mom with a small child, my goal was survival - this summer we are making a geographical move so the goal is to keep building business and get the move done smoothly) Understand if you are in "growth mode" or more of a "maintenance mode" and plan accordingly.
2. Find ways to support your goals - if you need new business, for example - get in front of the calendar and actually block out planning hours and prospecting hours. Look at things you are doing that are causing you to run in circles - and work to minimize those activities. (This is a good time to cut people loose who don't "get" what the value is that you bring. Move on - others do)
3. If you have Summer family obligations - block those out in your calendar as well - planning always opens the door to seeing what opportunities you actually have. Assuming you can't put kids to work to help with research and menial tasks - at least block out your own time to do heavier market research, professional development, or a social focus (finally get that LinkedIn account set up, with connections made, Groups joined, and start answering Questions - for example)
4. Customers are #1 -- keep your existing customers happy and stay connected with them. Support them as always.
5. If the weather is great in your part of the world, embrace a "Fridays off" schedule or "3 day weekends" twice a month - or whatever it is that works for you and supports your business building. This is in harsh contrast to NOT embracing - taking time off anyway, and then feeling BAD about it. Don't do that. Own your decisions - work smarter and get more done in less time.
6. Keep open to ways that you can grow your business "smarter" - through improved messaging or that one web page that will get strategic partners on board. What's one web page or blog that could give you that added visibility and new revenues?
7. Work to find collaborators and strategic partners who "get" what it is that you do - and have a wide net of connections plus the enthusiasm of your work to help champion you in the world. Find mentors who have DONE this - and look both within your industry and outside of it to get the right connections. This step alone can double or quadruple your business.
8. Put better systems in place - that social CRM (customer relationship management) system or a better automated e-mail system or web-based shopping cart. Create project plans and stick to them - moving one step forward each glorious day of the sunny summer months.
Bonus tips: Be a bit "lighter" - don't be so serious, have a smile on your face, and really enjoy this time of year. If you take time off - just block that out in the calendar (something we do at the start of each year - block out our vacations and as many annual business trips as we can think of). If you are an entrepreneur, it is YOUR business, anyway. The idea that your systems and clients hold you hostage to getting outside is crazy talk - if that is you, what sort of vision do you have for your life?
You must make time for recreation - the idea of "re-creating" yourself comes from getting away from your work. At least add in some trips to museums or talk with artists for a change if you are not one - these trips can result in you unlocking an idea you have been stuck on.
When you set goals for this 3 month span of time - put systems in place, and measure your success, it really can make it more fun and be easier to grow revenues this year.
Please share your "secret weapon" this summer with others in the comments.... what are you looking forward to, and how will you plan for your company's success? Are you OK with taking some time off, or will you feel guilty about it? Post your thoughts, as they help others - and they may help you too - to see it in writing.