August is a slower time of year for many small-business owners. It seems like it’s difficult to get anything done as customers, employees, and vendors go on vacation. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be wasted time – or a lost month. There are ways you can make the most of the dog days of summer and come out in the fall stronger than ever! And I’ve got 10 productivity tips to help you do just that.
10 Productivity Tips to Make August More Productive
1 – Improve your skills.
When work is busy, you may not have time to educate yourself. There are always industry specific webinars and conferences you can attend. Or, for more broad skills training, you can often find free online classes from major universities like Stanford, Oxford and Yale that you can take in the comfort of your own office. You could also take time to read some of the many great business books out there, which can also improve either your skills or perspective.
2 – Start from scratch.
Try to approach your business with a “Beginner’s Mind.” Go back to the very basic question of “Why is my company in business?” You should also explore what makes you different from other companies who also do what you do. What pain do you solve better than any other company? Who has the money to solve that pain? You may discover your company mission has drifted or changed, but taking the time to explore can help you redefine or get back on track.
3 – Call a customer.
Pick up the phone and call customers you haven’t spoken to directly for a long time. While businesses have become increasingly comfortable with high tech, Dave Kilby, CEO of the Western Association of Chamber Executives says it also needs to be “high touch.” If the customer is on vacation, leave a message about how you appreciate his business. Small things like this will make that relationship stronger.
4 – Survey your customers.
Most small businesses don’t ask enough about what their customers think. Send out a three question survey and see what actions you need to take as a result. This is a great time to create a feedback loop that helps you do what you do better!
5 – Update your company website.
Unfortunately, websites age and get stale. Almost 50 percent of business websites have outdated or incorrect information and/or dead links. Review every major page of your site for accuracy and provide upgraded content that addresses your customers’ needs.
6 – Clean up your inbox.
Most inboxes are a mess. Delete messages and organize them into separate folders to see if you can get to the goal of having zero messages in your inbox! If you do, email me and I will send you a “Get to Zero” prize!
7 – Review your financial statements.
Many small-business owners fall behind in reviewing their monthly financials. Only 5 percent of all owners can actually understand every number on their statements. If you don’t know where your company has been financially, you will never know where it is going.
Reviewing your financials can also reveal things you might not track with at busier times of the year – like where your money is going, what products or services are bringing in the most revenue, and what expenses you could cut to make the finances more lean. If reading a balance sheet, profit and loss, or cash flow statement feels like reading a foreign language to you, get help. It’s a great use of a slower business cycle!
8 – Join a new social media conversation.
Many small-business owners do not have the time just to explore all of the discussions that are happening on various social media platforms. Experiment and participate in new conversations that are relevant to your business. Sign up for Pinterest or another social media platform that you have yet explore and see if it can work for your business. Deliberately wander a little!
9 – Volunteer your time.
Helping others in need is good for your soul, as well as your business. It will give a perspective of your life that isn’t found working everyday in your business. Find a local organization that could use your time and expertise. Who knows, you may also make some great new connections too.
10 – Go on your own vacation.
Time off can be productive, too. Go somewhere or nowhere with your family or friends that has nothing to do with your business. Take advantage of the lull and recharge, refresh, and savor some lazy days. I would even challenge you to leave your smartphone at home!
Any of these productivity tips can help you make great use of extra time during the lull of August. You may even find that slow business cycles work in your favor, if you know how to maximize that time. So, let yourself slow down and do all those things you wish you had time for during busier times of the year. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did!