Embracing and Conquering the Summer Lull

Jun 8, 2018, Written by Sue Miley

When we are busy, we brag and complain at the same time. Whether we are bragging or complaining, we are smiling. It’s a warped cultural, entrepreneurial thing; yet in every industry, there are lulls. If you have ever been a client of mine, you have heard me encourage people to enjoy the quiet.

Quiet doesn’t have to mean doom. Quiet in this description is a pace. Summer brings a slower pace to many industries.

When kids get out of school and Memorial Day is on the horizon, our pace slows. Clients start the year taking vacations and giving their teams time off. Once their vacation ends they come back to the lull and many panic instead of leaning into it. Even if it has been this way in times past, when business is slow, there is a tendency to believe it is permanent.

I want to challenge you to think back to years past. What was the rhythm of your summer? And how did you spend the time?

It is such a common story in the spring to hear about businesses being crazy-busy. They don’t have time to do any marketing or selling because they are just trying to handle what they have at the time. Warning flares can be sent up that this boom will end and you haven’t been filling the pipeline.

Keep marketing.

Continue selling. Business always settles into new seasons.

If you are here now – slower than spring, worried, and trying to stir up noise – try to make this productive, foundation-building time for you and your business.

Here are some tips:

  1. No worrying. First – pray. Give it to God and promise that no matter what, you are going to embrace the pace and slow down a bit. Worrying doesn’t accomplish anything positive, but it doescreate a lot of negative energyfor you, your relationships, your health, and your business.
  2. Take inventory. Figuratively and literally. Where are you in your business? I would do a full assessment.
    Look at the health of:

    1. Cash balances
    2. Debt – Hopefully none.
    3. Accounts Receivable – All current?
    4. Sales – Pacing with last year? Achieving budget?
    5. Customer diversification – No client over 20%?
    6. New customers – Have you added new customers this year?
    7. Retention – How is your customer retention compared to historically?
    8. Staff levels – Are you staffed with the right people in the right roles?
    9. Systems and processes – Did things run smoothly when you were crazy-busy?If not, what can you do to solidify the foundation?
    10. Marketing – Are you keeping your brand name and services out in the public consistently? Are you attracting new leads?
    11. Leadership – How have you been leading your team this year? When you were busy did you lead well? Does your team feel your every shift in mood or do you lead them consistently?
  3. Catch-up on things that were important but not urgent, therefore, were delayed. This is a time to make sure you don’t have any outstanding performance reviews due for your team. Make sure all of your paperwork is filed and organized; automate payments if not already done. These are things we put off but that can make sure life is more efficient when we start getting busy.
  4. Review expenses for waste. I do this at home and at work. It is ridiculous how many things we end up signing up for or putting on automatic debit and then forget about it. I always find stuff we just are not using anymore and stop it: subscriptions to magazines, training, software no one uses, storage no one uses, etc. Also, since there is more time, your team can shop prices and get you better costs on needed items. Don’t cut investments in your business, instead review and cut things that should be eliminated anyway.
  5. Start planning. Any strategy or tactic goes better with a plan. If you were running on fumes for the first half of the year, now is the time to create meaningful thought out plans for your operational efficiencies, marketing, and sales. Whether easy to track or not, we perform better when we are working toward goals and plans. I would suggest if time permits, you create a:
    1. Marketing plan for the 2nd half of the year
    2. Sales plan for the 2nd half of the year
    3. Establish one or two key “lead measures” for operations – something that is fully in your teams control to do and is indicative of achieving your operational goals.
  6. Take care of your health. I went out of the country twice this spring and got sick both times. Frustration is an understatement. I am writing this from home as I just got back from Ireland and still can’t kick some kind of crud I probably got on the plane. Interestingly, I found out when I got back I am also Vitamin D deficient, which happens to have “getting sick easily” as a key symptom. I am frustrated with myself because I feel like I could have been taking better care of myself. How about you?  Maybe it is time to get a full check-up from your doctor and plan a low stress, healthy summer.
  7. Make things happen. I don’t want to contradict all that has been said before, but my point isn’t to just stick our heads in the sand and wake up in a few months when the season changes. As small business owners, we actually have greater control over our business than many large organizations. We just need to create plans and work the plans. We need to be consistent, do great work, and look for opportunities. We do need to knock on doors and create amazing goodwill for our brands.

We just need to do it in our normal way of glorifying God in all we do. He can tell when we are really just panicking and trying to make something happen in our own strength. We can tell too, as it usually starts with a tight feeling in our chest and a feeling of despair.

If you start to feel this way, like you have to make something happen or disaster is around the corner, then you need to start back at the beginning of this list!

God does love us, but He doesn’t promise us easy.

He does meet our needs that He defines, but He doesn’t make sure everything we do will work.

He does promise that He is with us.

If nothing else comes out of your summer lull but more time to spend with Jesus, then it will be a summer well spent. My practical side wanted to give you a list to work on for the summer, but I always have my fall back.

What to do when you don’t know what to do?  I focus on Jesus.

I focus on my time with Him. I read scripture and seek to know Him more deeply. I journal and share all of my thoughts with Him. Whenever I do this, a clear path appears.

 

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.