This week, there may be snow in Colorado and flooding in Texas, but hot or cold, wet or dry, now that Memorial Day is behind us, the summer season is officially here. For many small businesses and entrepreneurs, summer is the busiest time of the year—especially if you’re in the tourism, sports, or construction industries.
But for most of the rest of us who own small businesses, summer often means things in the office slow down. Fewer people come in the door, click on our site, send us emails. That makes it very tempting to close up shop, head for the beach, and order one of those fizzy drinks with little umbrellas. Or at least head to the backyard lounge chair with a tall glass of iced tea.
But before you get nice and relaxed, let me tell you six things you should do for your small business this summer:
- Get a mobile website. This is your most important summer task. When you realize that two-thirds of all Americans access the web from their smart phone—and about 40% use their phone as their preferred or only method of getting on the web, your website better look good and work well when people view it on a mobile phone. If they can’t easily read your content and navigate your site on their iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, prospects will absolutely go somewhere else. Fortunately, it’s really easy to get a mobile-optimized website. Check out such providers as Weebly, Wix, BigCommerce, and WordPress.
- Make a list of your top prospects. Every small business owner in a ‘b2b’ or business-to-business company, should have a list of their top customers and their top prospects that they keep handy. Ideally, the list should be visible to you all the time—taped on your desk or posted on a wall. It often takes some research and homework to identify prospects, and in the day-to-day rush of business, that can be hard. During summer, get on the web, especially on LinkedIn, and start researching contacts who have the potential to become big customers before the end of the year.
- Develop your fall marketing plan. Summer won’t last forever, and you want to be ready to land some big customers as soon as people are back at their desks. The summer months are a great time to do some strategic planning—clarify and narrow your target market, figure out the best ways to reach prospects. Come up with a marketing budget and marketing vehicles, so you’re ready to go.
- Redo your own marketing materials. While you’re focused on marketing, summer is a great time to freshen up and modernize your own marketing materials. When was the last time you took a hard look at your business cards? Brochures? Do you still have a fax number but not your social media handles printed on your material? You can get a new look at reasonable prices from a few online print companies, such as Vistaprint, PsPrint, and Moo.
- Update your operations. A slow summer is the perfect time to work on internal operations. Switch any soon-to-be-upgraded on-premise software programs to cloud-based applications. Absolutely set up an online document storage and sharing system, such as Dropbox or Box or Google Drive and start using it!
- Tackle a project. We all have a “wish list” of projects we’d like to take care of someday. It may be creating a new prototype of a product and trying out a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter or IndieGoGo. It might be clearing out old inventory, cleaning out a back room, getting some training. Do the spring cleaning you didn’t have time to do in spring.
Of course, summer is also a good time for recharging your own batteries. Remember, the word “recreation” comes from “re-create.” So, take some time off to re-create yourself, so you’ll have fresh ideas and renewed energy to bring to your business. Relax, take a trip, go to a museum. Even sitting around by a pool with a fizzy drink with a little umbrella isn’t such a bad idea. Make mine a margarita.
Copyright, Rhonda Abrams, 2015
This article originally ran in USA Today on May 29, 2015