Summer brings a welcome break for most Brits, but less so for small business owners. Typically considered a slower month for many businesses, the summer sunshine can put extra pressure on both cash flow and staff turnout. Not surprisingly, over a third (35 percent) of 30-60-year-olds take time off work between July and August, with over half (52 percent) of workers admitting to working shorter hours during summer.
Just because you have fewer hands on deck, doesn’t mean summer has to be a slow period. Use the long summer days as an opportunity to take stock of your business’ objectives, and to get your business ready for the busy months that will follow.
Here are our top tips to avoid a summer slump:
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail
Rather than wasting time panicking about any impending downtime, use the time to plan ahead. Get a plan in place that pinpoints any significant upcoming hits, for example, a large invoice coming in or a large supply order. If you calculate what the impact will be, you can prepare your business in the best possible way.
Use this quieter time to get the creative juices flowing ahead of any upcoming campaigns. Take advantage of the nice weather and get yourself (and your staff) out to a coffee shop to help boost creativity and spark inspiration. And remember, this downtime is temporary – there’s no need to lose confidence in your business plan.
Chase those invoices
Cash flow can take a bruising in the slower summer months. But the slower pace does afford you time to chase the people you’ve been meaning to track down for a while. If you’ve got extra time on your hands, use it to pick up the phone to follow up on those outstanding invoices.
Be proactive with invoice management. Make sure you send invoices out nice and quickly so that you’re in the best possible position to get funds back in time. Allow yourself extra time so that another business’ holiday plans don’t interfere with your cash flow.
Keep a close eye on outgoings
While chasing those who owe you money, it’s important that you don’t owe anyone else money, either. Just as it’s important to have a good relationship with your customers, it’s also crucial that you maintain a good relationship with your suppliers. It all comes down to knowing your business and sales cycle inside out so that you can make orders as soon as more cash comes in.
Use your planning time to prioritise business expenses and stagger them in order of importance. Plan a cashflow forecast so that you know what you can spend, when you can spend it and how much cash you need to keep your business ticking over.
Self-evaluate and socialise
The summer is a great time to take stock, reflect and process what has worked well throughout the year, and what hasn’t worked as well. Summer weather breeds positivity, so take your team and your clients out, and talk about your work – get them to tell you what they’re happy with, and what needs tweaking. It’s the perfect opportunity to get brainstorming and to work on the business strategy for rest of the year.
By embracing the summer months and seeing them as an opportunity to reflect, catch-up and to get ahead for more intense months to come, you can use this time to recharge and get excited about the year ahead. But don’t lose sight of your finances – be agile and adapt to slow invoices and any necessary expenditure – and your business won’t feel the strain.