Most people love summer. The weather is warm – a blessing following the unusually cold winter of 2014 – and kids and adults can spend more time outside. Longer days seem to lift everyone’s mood. It is easy to get distracted, particularly for moms (or dads) who run home-based businesses.
For many companies, work slows in the summer as clients go on vacation. Small business owners themselves try to schedule in some down time. Once they get back in serious working mode when September rolls around, entrepreneurs may begin acting upon their expansion plans.
Now is the perfect time to assess what’s working, what needs to improve, and how you are faring versus the competition. These are important elements to include if you need to borrow expansion money and are in the process of writing a business plan.
Before September gets here, my advice to entrepreneurs is to take advantage of the slower pace and focus on your business strategy. Some questions to consider:
- What are our strengths?
- In what areas do we need to improve?
- How can we operate more efficiently?
- Where are our opportunities for growth?
- How much financing do we need if/when we want to grow?
Every business has strengths and weaknesses. Focus on what makes your business unique. For instance, Enchantments is a New Jersey-based gift shop that sells jewelry and other items hand-made by skilled craftsmen and artisans. Each month, owner Helen Ling focuses attention to different buying occasions (Mother’s Day, bar mitzvahs, weddings and anniversaries, etc.) and or types of gifts (pottery, jewelry, picture frames, et al).
No one is perfect. Even if 2014 has been a good year at this juncture, there are always ways to improve. Perhaps you can negotiate your advertising rates better. Maybe you are not taking advantage of opportunities to market your company better via social media. Assess areas in need of improvement and figure out the best approach.
Every company can improve its efficiency, either operationally or financially. Perhaps your business if going well, but you aren’t so good at keeping your books. The summer is an ideal time to determine whether you need to hire someone to do your accounting and make sure that invoices are generated and sent out in a timely manner in order to improve your cash flow.
The old saying is “take time to stop and smell the roses.” Business owners who are assessing their companies should take slower periods to strategize the best opportunities for growth. Expanding geographically is one way. If you own a restaurant or catering business, increase your marketing to reach potential customer who live a little farther away. Perhaps expanding into a different type of client base is an appropriate path. If you have sold website services to auto dealers, perhaps there are insurance agents who need online help, as well.
If you plan on making the plunge and opening a second location, assess how much it will cost and then add to it. If you are renting out a new space or buying or putting up a new building, anticipate roadblocks that cost money. Be sure to borrow enough when you first make the request. You don’t want to ask the bank twice for money.
Rohit Arora is co-founder and CEO of Biz2Credit, an online resource that connects 1.6 million small business owners with 1,300+ lenders, credit rating agencies and service providers such as CPAs and attorneys. Since 2007, Biz2Credit has secured more than $1.2 billion in funding for thousands of small businesses across the U.S. Follow Rohit on Twitter @biz2credit and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/biz2credit.