By Jennie Wong
The Charlotte Observer (MCT)
The mercury is climbing and the days are getting longer. With Memorial Day weekend just days past, there’s no better time to make sure your business is ready for summer.
You may feel like the hot weather, the kids being home from school, and vacation travel are stacking the deck against you for business productivity, but a little advance planning can go a long way.
PLAN FOR FUN: Take time to recharge and recreate a little this summer. Business owners need time off, just like everyone else, and many studies point to the protective benefits of taking a vacation. Prevent burn out by squeezing in a trip with loved ones or a staycation that lets you enjoy your hometown, or just sleeping in for a change.
Vacation fun is also great fodder for creativity and innovation. If you haven’t had a fresh idea for your business in a while, you may be surprised what occurs to you while you’re careening down a zip line or gazing out of a scuba mask. If the work-guilt demons come calling, remember that an infusion of fresh perspective could lead to your next great concept.
This is especially important for those times when owning your own business starts to feel like a grind. Maybe your “day off“ isn’t a day away from your business at all, but rather a busman’s holiday where you are walled off from your least favorite tasks (workers’ comp audit, anyone?) and devoted to the activity you love to do best in your business.
Few things are as motivating as reconnecting with the energy you had when first launching your business and that elusive state of work when time disappears.
SCHEDULE TRAINING TIME: And speaking of fresh perspective, if your industry is traditionally slow during the summer months, make a habit of summer learning. If you need continuing education credits to keep a certification up to date, summer may be the perfect time to knock out those professional development classes. As an added bonus, if you have kids, seeing Mom or Dad brushing up their skills sets a good example for preventing the “summer slide.“
But what if summer is your high season? For those business owners looking at their busiest time of year, prepare for the onslaught with new initiatives and offers. For example, if you find yourself answering the same customer questions again and again, head them off at the pass with a new FAQ link on your website or, even better, a quick video tutorial.
If summer is when you make the lion’s share of your revenue, challenge yourself to come up with ways to close more business than ever before. Perhaps that means some just-in-time sales training for you or your people, or maybe it’s a creative up-sell campaign. Whatever that idea is that you’ve been wanting to try, summer has a lightness that invites experimentation.
SOLVE YOUR STAFFING CRUNCH: If you employ full or part-time staff, now is a good time to start talking about vacation schedules. In my own business, where employee retention is highly prioritized, we encourage people to think through the rest of the year and decide when they want their PTO, just to make sure that they get the R&R they need to stay happy and productive. And if you have more than a handful of employees, you may need to have a process for resolving conflicts if everyone wants to take off the Fourth of July.
Summer is also the season of internships, which can be a great recruiting tool for your small business. Be sure to do your homework on how to set up an internship program, using resources like the Small Business Administration website, http:/// www.sba.gov.
And be cautious in your use of unpaid interns. Unpaid interns cannot do any work that contributes to a company’s operations, according to the SBA. This includes any tasks that help you run your business, from documenting inventory to answering emails.
Seize the opportunity that summer brings - a chance to break out, be inspired, and try something new. Carpe aestatem!
Jennie Wong is an executive coach, author of the e-book “Ask the Mompreneur“ and the founder of the social shopping website CartCentric.com. Email her at TheJennieWonggmail.com.