It’s the final days of summer—a season when, for many small businesses, work slows down. With clients out of town and a little spare time on your hands, the last few weeks of summer are a perfect time to take care of some business. Here are eight steps you can take now to build a stronger business come fall:
- Give your business finances a going-over. If you’re not already doing so, set up a schedule for reviewing your business’s cash flow on a regular basis (ideally, weekly or even daily) so you always know where you stand. Staying on top of receivables is key to strong cash flow, so identify weak points in your collections system and implement processes system for getting paid on time going forward, such as automating reminder notices. If necessary, send delinquent accounts to a collections agency.
- Get ready for holiday 2014. If you own a retail store, ecommerce site or other business whose sales surge during the holiday shopping season, now is the time to get your ducks in a row. Plan your holiday marketing and advertising campaign, determine your inventory needs and place orders, start testing your website to make sure it can handle increased traffic, and assess your staffing situation so you can start advertising for holiday help if necessary.
- Review your business website. Whether or not you’re in ecommerce, take a day or two to give your business website a going-over. Enlist friends and employees to assess its navigability, ease of use and branding. Does your website look outdated? Is it slow to load? Does still reflect your product or service offerings? Is it mobile-friendly? If not, take the necessary steps to get it up to speed before year-end. Is your site optimized for mobile viewing? If not, you need to get it redesigned as soon as possible; ask your web designer or web host about responsive design.
- Implement new technology. Tech tools abound to make your life easier, from email rules to customer relationship management (CRM) and receivables software. Investigate what’s out there and how it can help you. Don’t forget hardware like tablet computers and smartphones—if your team isn’t using these yet, the devices could quickly pay for themselves in increased efficiency and sales. For example, you can use mobile devices to accept payments on the spot, boosting your cash flow.
- Read business books. Do you have a dozen business books on your bedside table that you’ve been meaning to read all year? Take the extra time to read a few of them now; then make a list of how the lessons can apply to your business.
- Start your year-end tax planning early. Make an appointment now with your accountant to discuss year-end tax planning in September. If you need to buy new equipment, make charitable donations or otherwise accelerate expenses to cut your tax bill come April, planning your strategy in September will ensure you have plenty of time to make your moves.
- Take some time off. Close up shop and head for the beach (or wherever your “happy place” is). You’ve earned it—and you’ll come back rested and refreshed for the post-Labor-Day rush. Still feel guilty about taking time away from your business? Take a couple of those business books with you.
About the Author
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.