For many businesses, the onset of summer means the slow season is approaching. As a business owner, instead of dreading this time, treat it as the calm before the storm and use your downtime as a way to upgrade your business before the fall. Read on for three areas where you can upgrade your business this summer.
Update Your Technology
There's always a learning curve and some expected hiccups when you start using new software so there's no better time to make the adjustment than the slow season. Look at your accounting software. If things are slowing down or your business has been booming it might be time to look at the switch from a basic like QuickBooks to the larger QuickBooks Enterprise solution. Look at all your other tech solutions through the same lens. If your broadband is moving slowly, look at an upgraded router and check with your provider to see if there are faster speeds available. If your data storage is filling up, instead of purchasing another hard drive, consider transitioning all of your storage to the cloud. The earlier you make these transitions the easier it will be to scale your business in the future.
Besides speed and storage, consider your online presence. Hire someone to make sure your website is optimized for SEO. Use free tools to make sure your website is also optimized for mobile and make any needed adjustments. Finally, create extra content that you can post during your busier times. Write extra blog posts and schedule them to post in the future. Create evergreen content for your social media sites and use your small business social media interface to schedule them out over the next several months.
Pursue New Partnerships
Besides technology, use downtime to polish your soft business skills. Customers are more interested in sustainability and shopping locally. You can capitalize on this trend and expand your customer base when you create partnerships with other local businesses. During busy seasons it can be difficult to find the time to meet with other business owners, much less plan out a potential marketing strategy together. Use your slow time to approach businesses where you may have customer overlap. For example, a restaurant might want to work with a local farmer or farmer's market to develop a special menu, combine offerings with a specialty bakery, or even hire a local artist or artisan furniture designer to bring in unique pieces. Both businesses should be using their social media to create excitement about the collaboration and advertising to their combined pool of customers. Execute the plan once business picks back up and watch the new customers roll in.
Other partnerships could be between your business and local nonprofits. Think about designing special events that benefit the nonprofit. Another option is providing your goods or services directly to the nonprofit. Document the entire process and share it on social media for free marketing and a boost to your image. The majority of today's customers consider a company's social responsibility when deciding where to shop. Make them want to pick yours.
Experiment With Your Marketing
Especially with a very small business, when you get busy it can be easy to leave your marketing campaign on autopilot. Use a slow season to try new things. Like upgrading software, there may be some bumps along the way, so this time, when there will be minimal impact to your business, is the perfect time to play around. Try a direct mailer and see what kind of response you get.
Social media platforms are developing new offerings all the time. Try adding videos to your Facebook page. Videos that originate in Facebook will get higher algorithm rankings than videos imported from other sources. Consider doing a live Q&A session on Instagram or YouTube. Check the difference in response for using the quick video Stories options on the different platforms.
As long as you're pursuing new partnerships this might also be a good time to enter a partnership with a social media influencer. You'll have more time to research potential partners and they'll have more time to try your product or service. With some advance planning, you can have several influencers posting videos with thorough reviews and recommendations about your business right when the business is ready to pick back up.
It's the proverb of summer: when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. So when life gives you free time at your small business, make the changes to your business that will have you coming back bigger and better than ever when fall rolls around.