by Williams Brack, Special to The New Tri-State Defender
Some seasonal businesses heat up during the summertime, but most businesses see a major slow-down during the summer months. Clients and customers take vacations, and new projects and purchases are usually delayed until after the vacation season dies down. However, this downtime isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Savvy small business owners know they can use the time to update their skills, technology, marketing, and anything else that can drive their business forward for the rest of the year.
Take time to analyze yourself: New small business owners have to perform every business function out of necessity, whether you are good at it or not. The summer is a good time to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses in the business. Are you doing $15 and hour work like bookkeeping, data entry, and social media? An owner should spend his or her time on activities that produce the highest value such as setting the vision, sales, and vendor/customer management.
Take time to analyze your sales: Which customers account for most of your revenues? Which customers are you spending the most time with? Identifying your customers based on how much they spend is one of your most important business insights. Most times we pay more attention to the low spending complaining customer because the squeaky wheel gets the oil. We should be spending time understanding why our best customers are doing business with us and identifying ways to attract more. As a small business owner, every customer is valuable but to grow, you must spend time securing your best customers, even if they don’t have any complaints.
Analyze your spending: Are you getting the best return on your dollars spent? Every dollar spent is valuable from marketing to equipment to employees. Did your marketing campaign produce the sales you expected? Are you using the new equipment as much as you expected? Are your employees proving the value you need? The summer is the best time to determine if you need to cut spending in one area and spend more in others.
Analyze your processes and procedures: Do you have systems in place? Any function that is repeatable in your business should have a written process. Functions such as invoices, collections, and on-boarding new customers and vendors should be written down and followed. This will allow you to deliver a consistent customer and vendor service experience and will lay the foundation for you to delegate these activities one day.
Rest: As a small business owner you are either working in your business or thinking about your business. Take a vacation for your sanity. If you have the proper processes and procedures in place, your business shouldn’t go to ruin after a week. Of course, you should notify your customers if you are a solo owner or prep your team for your absence.
(Williams Brack is commercial banker, civic volunteer, and community activist. He can be reached at [email protected].)