Has business slowed down for you in the summer months? If you’re among the select handful who find themselves in this position, we’ve got you covered with tips to make the most of it and keep your business going strong.
Is the summer slowdown at work a myth or reality?
Some businesses experience a summer slowdown—but many don’t. “It depends on the type of business,” explains Andrea England, CEO and founder of AE Business Consulting, a boutique consulting and marketing firm, as well as The Business Connect Hub, a modern co-work and meeting space in Baltimore, Maryland. Businesses that sell products and services related to travel and outdoor leisure, for instance, might actually see a summer surge.
But why does business slow down in the summer for a niche amount of businesses? Shifts in employee and consumer behavior play a major role. People tend to go on vacation in the summer, which may result in fewer employees and customers alike.
What to do when work is slow
Treat this reprieve from the daily grind as an opportunity to gain new skills, engage with existing customers, attract new customers, and take other steps to set up your small business or accounting firm for long-term success. In short, you can still use this time productively!
Here’s how to make the most of a summer slowdown:
1. Plan for the rest of the year
“Focus on areas of need,” England tells BILL. “During the slowdown, you can improve those areas, strengthen your team, and position yourself for success.” Take a page from her playbook and conduct a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis.
England also suggests mapping out your business goals and strategies for the rest of the year. “Ensure that you have a strategic plan for the busier months, whenever those may be for your business,” she adds.
2. Declutter your physical and virtual workspace
Boost your productivity—and your mood—with a workspace deep clean. Toss items you don’t use, wrangle in cables, and make use of shelves and dividers. Organize your inbox and desktop. Download any updates you’ve kept delaying. Also, “digitize paperwork instead of having file cabinets,” England says.
Buried in physical checks, invoices, and other payment documentation? Try digitizing them with a solution like BILL.
3. Review your budget
Draw up a plan to stay on track with the budget you set at the beginning of the year. You might need to eliminate underperforming products or services, switch suppliers, adjust your sales goals, or even revise your budget.
If you’re struggling to stay on budget, it might be because you’re relying on a static (and therefore, most likely outdated) spreadsheet. A solution like BILL Spend & Expense auto-syncs with employee credit cards, giving you dynamic, real-time insights to inform your budget strategy.
4. Help your employees grow their skills
Re-energize your team with professional development opportunities for your employees, England suggests, such as training sessions, workshops, and performance feedback. “I think that’s always important, ensuring that everyone is receiving, not just giving,” she says.
5. Grow your skills
Sign up for a class (or more) to brush up on your leadership and other skills. Not sure where to start? Small business communities and chambers of commerce often provide a number of professional development resources.
Or head over to BILL, where we’re hosting webinars all summer long. Here are just a few of them:
- Preventing Fraud in AP: 10 Tactics Every Organization Must Use (May 30, 2023)
- The Value of Belonging (May 31, 2023)
- Elements of Strategy to Help Firms Redefine Value (June 6, 2023)
- Discover Firm Growth Through Spend Management Advisory (June 15, 2023)
- How to Optimize B2B Payments for Your Business (June 8, 2023)
6. Rethink (and rebuild) your tech stack for greater efficiencies
An organized tech stack can streamline your processes, saving you time once business resumes its usual pace. Use any downtime to refine your tech stack. Look for opportunities to consolidate solutions and eliminate those that don’t drive business value. Identify gaps and solutions that can fill them.
Want to level up your accounting tech stack? Consider adding BILL, a financial automation solution built to seamlessly integrate with your accounting system, giving you even more financial transparency and control.
7. Streamline your workflows
“Reviewing your internal processes is important when you’re scaling your business,” England remarks. Indeed, streamlining processes can free up time to focus more on growth. Reserve a slow day to update your contacts, inventory management system, standard operating procedures, or other databases.
Also, identify opportunities to automate time-consuming manual processes. A solution like BILL, for example, automatically pulls information from invoices, routes notifications to the right approvers, and fills out bills with the amount due once invoices are approved, letting you pay vendors in just a few clicks.
8. Give your network some extra TLC
Reach out to current and former colleagues, mentors, and others you might not have time to connect with during busier months of the year. Conduct customer interviews to better understand your audience’s needs. Professional relationships can be mutually rewarding—but like any relationship, you get what you put in!
9. Engage with your audience online
Using social media and other online marketing channels to engage with customers and build awareness of your products and services is essential in today’s digital world, England points out. “Consider offering summer promotions or creating seasonal content that resonates with your target audience,” she recommends.
Seasonal content could even look like being transparent with your audience about a slowdown, if you’re experiencing one, and any staffing or other internal changes it might’ve caused. “It makes them feel appreciated, like ‘Oh, you’re vulnerable enough to share what’s going on in your business. I want to further support your mission and goals,’” England explains.
10. Recharge yourself and your team
Rest and relaxation is as much a priority as your other to-do items. “You want to ensure you’re recharged and prepared for the upcoming season,” England says. So go ahead, book that vacation, and encourage your team to do the same.
Make the most of your summer with BILL
If you’re among the few businesses facing a summer slowdown, know that it doesn’t have to be a drag. In fact, it can be a great opportunity to lay down the groundwork for you to succeed in the months and years to come. This summer, automate your financial operations with BILL so you can free up your time throughout the year to focus on your business’ long-term success. Sign up today.