July and August can be slower months for many small businesses in the U.S. While tourism-based and other seasonal businesses are notable exceptions, many business owners and their clients take vacations and spend less time thinking about business during the “lazy days” of summer than during the rest of the year.
You may still feel just as busy, but the key to making this mini-breather pay is to look at the summer months as a launching pad for growth and improvement into next year. Every summer, I try to work on these five things as a way to make the rest of the year more fruitful.
- Find some new inspiration. It’s pretty easy to get in the habit of reading the same blogs, following the same people, and picking up the same magazines. Everyone has a go-to list of blogs and websites, but you may be missing out on something new. Take one hour and re-evaluate your routine. Think about some new categories of information you should be consuming, and search around and find some lists of “who to read” in that category or industry. Clean out those newsletter subscriptions you never seem to read, and make room for some new inspiration.
- Start planning for the next year. Sometimes it feels like it’s hard to plan the week ahead much less dream about the vision for the future. The problem is that where you want to go next year and beyond should inform how you plan next week and maybe even tomorrow.
Carve out time to think about the big picture for next year now, and do some planning to move closer to your goals. Don’t wait until December to do it, or you may realize it is too late to act.
- Deepen a relationship. When’s the last time you reached out to someone you haven’t spoken with for a while just to say, “Hey, let’s get coffee this week?”
Whether you’ve slowed down a bit or not during this time of year, it’s a perfect time to identify a handful of relationships you’ve neglected and put some very mindful energy into renewing them. You pick -- a couple of key customers, a strategic partner, a college friend, your brother, or maybe even your spouse.
- Learn a new skill. I like to use the summer months each year to tackle something hard, confusing, and valuable as a way to remain relevant and useful to my clients and my business. This can be a great time to read a book or take a class or course that will improve your business practices.
- Create a new habit. Good habits are awesome because they do two things. If chosen wisely they can be beneficial for you on a consistent basis and they can help push another, not so good habit, out of the way. In fact, it’s been proven that the best way to break a bad habit is to replace it with a better one. If there is something you think you should be doing for your health or happiness, this is a great time to start it.
Downtime is inevitable for most businesses. Use the welcome respite to improve and prepare for the busy times ahead.