Summertime – that time of the year when everything slows down and moves out of doors. “Less work, more play” is often the motto found on the minds of many. It’s a time when you spend a day at the beach or lake, or take an afternoon off work just to be outside. Kids are out of school for the summer. Vacations and holidays are on the schedule. Outdoor activities take front seat.
Juggling a business along with these summer activities can be hard. It’s also a time when many online business owners see a slow-down in sales. When consumers are reaching for the sunblock instead of their keyboards it can affect your bottom line. Online business owners, especially those who work from home, have to juggle now only their businesses, but also kids if they are in the home.
Why do sales slump in the summer, though? There are many factors. One is the fact that most kids are out of school, so families are spending time with their kids and on vacations away from their computers. Another reason is consumers are spending money on summer activities for themselves, instead of online purchases.
A slow-down can occur in just about any online business at any time, but most often occurs during the summer, unless your business has a different seasonal focus.
An analysis of summer shopping habits of online consumers by the web analytics firm SumAll shows that gross sales for online merchants in July decline 30% from December levels. This is data they collected from over 3,000 merchants within their analytics program over the past four years.
The data shows that consumers spend less per order during the summer with July being the lowest. In addition:
- August sales pick up during the final week of the month, for back to school sales.
- Monday is the day most likely to have large ticket purchases.
- Wednesday is the top sales day of the week during the period from June to August.
- Friday is the day of the week when a greater number of expensive items are purchased.
- Saturdays and Sundays are the least likely days to have sales.
A slow-down doesn’t have to be a time of giving up on sales for the summer, though.
In fact, in this report we’ll look at ways to boost your sales during this time while still enjoying the fun of the summer season. You’ll learn how to manage getting work done, even if you have kids in the house. You’ll also find tips on how you can keep your business running while you’re on vacation.
Running Your Business While on Vacation
It’s been reported that at least 60 percent of all small business owners don’t take a vacation each year. And of those who do, 75 percent still did some sort of work every day during their “vacations.” In fact, according to a survey commissioned by Sam’s Club, a division of Wal-Mart, nearly 50 percent of small-business owners take only major holidays off – or no holidays at all.
These numbers are higher for home-based business solopreneurs who have no one to toss the reigns to while they take a break. It’s a challenge to take time away from your business when you know that if you aren’t working, you aren’t earning money.
But taking time off allows you to recharge your energy levels so that you don’t burn out. The summer slow-down time is the perfect time to do this.
Here are some tips to manage your work and time while you take time to have some fun.
This means setting up a schedule on your calendar for when you will be away, so you can get projects done ahead of that time. Let clients know when you’ll be away and have them schedule what they need prior to or after this time.
For example, if you are going to be gone for a week in July, have all your projects finished the week before you leave. Don’t try to fit 3 days’ work into the day before you leave. Give yourself time to fit in all the activities you need to get done.
Set up systems and tools
Almost all businesses have tasks they can automate. Marketing efforts can be maintained with various tools. For example, social media posts can be scheduled with tools like HootSuite. Blog posts can be written in advance and scheduled to post later in WordPress. Autoresponder systems like Aweber.com allow you to schedule your email message updates, so set up one that answers common questions you receive. Be sure to add a note that questions will be responded to personally after you return (unless you have a virtual assistant who can take care of them).
Virtual Assistant/Online Manager
Hire a virtual assistant to take the reins while you’re away. They can take care of your emails, update posts or whatever you need them to do while you’re away. They can work as your project manager as well, keeping your projects moving forward. They can even help you in planning and setting up tools and systems.
Even if you have a virtual assistant to manage your business, you can outsource many other tasks, such as writing, graphic work or blog maintenance.
Take care of maintenance only
While on vacation, make it a point to only check in once in a while. Do the very minimum to keep your business going, such as checking your email once a day and quickly checking in with your virtual assistant a couple of times.
Let clients know you will be away from the business. Be upfront with them so they can get work to you ahead of time if they need to. Letting them know your schedule demonstrates that you value them and respect their business.
Just because you own a business doesn’t mean you can’t take time off for relaxation and rejuvenation. Using the tools and systems available online can help you keep your business from falling into a slump while you are away. You can continue to market your business with help from a virtual assistant. And you can keep your relationship with clients on good terms by informing them of your plans well in advance.
Managing Your Time While Having Fun
Summertime can find many online business owners focusing more on where they could be instead of the work that’s actually in front of them. We see images of boats on the lake, beaches and swimming pools and tall cool drinks instead of our computer monitor and the tasks at hand. Often, we are constantly checking the clock or the weather outside or even our Facebook accounts.
The summer slow-down steals your motivation to work and kills your productivity, making you feel like you’re constantly fighting an uphill battle to get work done. You can beat this slowdown and still have time for fun by managing your time better.
These tips will help you manage your time so you can get work done more quickly.
- Switch your working hours. Change your normal working hours so that you have enough outside time to keep you satisfied. For instance, you could work early mornings and late evenings, leaving the afternoons free to enjoy outside activities. Or take certain days off during the week.
- Delegate work to others. Outsource more than you normally do in order to free up some time. Hire a virtual assistant or online manager to take care of the big projects, giving you more time to do what you want.
- Take advantage of technology. Use your smartphone to keep up with email and social media while you’re having fun. Wi-fi is available almost everywhere, making it easier than ever to keep in contact with customers and clients. Just be sure to set time limits for yourself so you don’t end up answering emails instead of catching waves at the beach.
- Use to-do lists. A daily to-do list during the summer can keep you organized and on task. Ticking off ‘done’ items from your list keeps you motivated to finish, instead of checking your social media accounts or daydreaming.
- Prioritize work. Plan out your days with work that has to be done. Do your money making tasks first. Also, don’t take on a lot of new projects if you are more interested in going out in the boat. Keep your work load lighter if possible so you can enjoy time on the lake.
- Break up big projects into small micro-tasks you can do throughout the day or week. This works for projects such as a new product launch, and for client work as well.
- Take your work outside. There’s no reason you can’t take your laptop to the park or your back deck to work. Even without a wi-fi connection, you can write documents or work on graphics.
- Take advantage of systems. You can create a bunch of blog posts ahead of time, and schedule them for publication at a later date using WordPress. The same is true for your autoresponder messages. And social media posts can be pre-scheduled to appear at a later time using software like HootSuite.
Managing your time and taking advantage of tools and outsourcing can help you do more than just dream of being outside during the summer. Breaking down projects into smaller tasks can help you get more done in less time.