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281. Surviving the Summer as an Entrepreneur: How to Take Advantage of the Summer Sales Slump

281. Surviving the Summer as an Entrepreneur: How to Take Advantage of the Summer Sales Slump

With summer right around the corner, I’ve been thinking about the patterns I’ve seen among entrepreneurs once the summer hits. I generally see this go one of two ways…

Either, they step away from their business as much as possible doing the bare minimum to stay afloat, or they want to take advantage of the summer sales slump to do deep work and accomplish big things.

Which is right for you will depend on where you’re at in your business and life, and what your priorities are at the moment. It's also likely to change year after year.

Whichever path you take this summer, I want to help you optimize that strategy.

Welcome to part two of the Surviving the Summer as an Entrepreneur series. In part one of the series we talked about how to set yourself up for success so you step away from the business.

If instead, you want to capitalize on the summer sales slump to make big strides in your business, keep reading to learn what I recommend you focus on.

PREFER TO LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE? CLICK HERE

Why the Summer is a Great Time to Work on Your Business

In case you’re not sure which direction you should go, let’s talk about why working ON your business in the summer is a good idea. 

The short story… because it gives you plenty of time to prep for Q4 so you can spend the last 3 months of the year working IN your business. 

I promise it's a lot less stressful to run big campaigns when you've got your plans mapped out in advance. Plus, depending on what you’re working on and the structure of your team, a lot of this can be done remotely at a not-too-windy beach or while you’re sipping your morning coffee on the balcony at your hotel. 

All you need to do is carve out some uninterrupted time to focus on the task at hand. 

What Struggles Might You Have Completing Big Projects During the Summer

While I stand behind working on your business during the summer months, we can’t pretend it doesn’t come with its own set of challenges. 

While you’re gearing up for summer vacations, beach days, and more uninterrupted time with your family… so is everyone else. 

Depending on the projects you’re working on this might not cause any issues, but it’s something to keep in mind when you’re mapping everything out. 

Whether it’s your team out of the office or that of your external partners, expect the project to take a bit longer to complete thanks to fewer resources and delayed communication times. 

The best way to combat that is to work in short sprints on one project at a time. This way you can coordinate the schedule and make that the priority for everyone that needs to be involved. This is just a good general practice. 

Things will generally take as long as you give yourself to do them, so stick to hard and fast deadlines wherever possible. 

What You Should Work On This Summer

Now that you’re convinced it’s a good idea to work ON your business this summer, now you’ve got to decide what it is you’re going to focus on. 

What this looks like for you depends on where you’re at in your business and your current priorities, but when in doubt consider prepping for Q4 and you’ll be on the right track. 

Update Your Website 

If you’ve been thinking about updating your website or know it needs a little optimization this is a great time to do it. Truth be told this can be done pretty quickly. With a bit of pre-planning, you can turn around an entirely new website in a week. I’ve done it many times for clients. 

If all you need to do is optimize things with new filters, an updated navigation menu, new product images, etc. you can likely get that done in just a couple of days.

If updating your website is on your to-do list, make sure you check the show notes for a bunch of resources to support you. 

Optimize Your Email Automations 

If you haven’t looked at your emails in the last 6 months, it’s probably time for a review. Remember, automations are only set it & forget-it-ish.

As you have more data there are inevitably more optimizations you can make to get better results. 

We’re not going deep on this one today because we’ve talked about it before on the podcast, check the show notes for additional resources. 

Prepare for Q4 

Everything we’re covering today can be or is related to Q4 prep, but let’s talk about some of the nitty-gritty things you might want to do to prep for the holiday season. The more pre-planning you do and the decisions you make now are going to make your life a whole lot easier later. 

Take some time to dig into your number and results from previous seasons to get a handle on what’s done well in the past, what you might have missed out on, etc. 

Your Product Assortment

The first thing I would do is think through your product assortment for the season. Is there anything new you need to create or bring in to round out your gift options? Are there any bestsellers you’ll need to stock up on? What are going to be your hero products?

Like I always say, bring them in with the best and then sell them the rest. You don’t necessarily have to decide down to the sku at this stage, but you should have a good idea of what you want to focus on from a category perspective. 

Your Website Strategy

Once you know what products you’re gonna focus on, you can start thinking through what if any changes you need to make on your website for this. You don’t necessarily have to do the work right now, but you can map out any tasks so you can hit the ground running when it’s time to implement. 

Are there going to be new products or collections that need to be created? Do you have a gift guide to update or new ones to add? 

Your Marketing & Promotional Strategy

You can also build out your marketing strategy. I would sit down and map out your entire Q4 strategy. When and what promotions will you run? What emails will you send? What can you repurpose from previous years?

You don’t necessarily have to create everything at this stage, but get your calendar mapped out so you know what you’re doing and when. 

This is also a great opportunity to start researching and applying to any in-person markets you might want to participate in and talk to your biz friends about potential collaborations.

This is also a great opportunity to start researching and applying to any in-person markets you might want to participate in. Most in-person markets have limited space and the good ones will make sure there are too many businesses from the same category. The earlier you can get into the right shows, the better chance you’ll be successful. Plus, the more time you have to get together all the necessary resources and strategy plans, the less stressful the process will be. 

You might also want to start talking to your biz friends about potential collaborations for the holiday season. Whether that’s swapping email shout-out, doing a joint gift guide, live shopping events, or even creating a bundle of your products that you each fulfill for one another, start brainstorming now so you can market it REALLY well when the time comes. There’s nothing worse than a half-ass marketing campaign that feels like a waste of time because you didn’t do it well enough to get the results you wanted. Yes, I'm speaking from experience here.

Build Out Your Wholesale Program

The summer sales slump is also a great time to focus on building out or ramping up your wholesale program. 

Are there any new retailers you want to pitch, or do you need to start researching them? Do you need to get your line sheets together for your holiday products or your products added to Faire?

According to Faire’s data, Christmas searches start to pick up noticeable steam in June with about 4000 searches throughout the month. In July it jumps to about 19,000 searches, 37,000 in August and it continues to rise from there. It reaches its peak of over 125k searches in October. 

Faire market is happening in July too which is a prime time for getting in front of new retailers. Even if they’re not ready to place an order with you right away you can be sure they’ll bookmark their favorites. 

Pitch Holiday Gift Guides 

If you have a gift-ready item consider pitching to holiday gift guides this summer. Not only are holiday gift guides a great way to get new eyeballs on your business, but it’s also a great way to add some legitimacy to your brand. 

Pitching for print publications starts in June and July, with digital outlets accepting pitches later in the year. 

No matter which direction you’re going to go, there is a bit of prep and research you have to put in upfront if you want to be successful, so you want to get started sooner rather than later. 

You’ll want to make sure your product images are up to snuff, your website is optimized, and you’ve got an affiliate program on one of the big platforms for those publishers to join… especially if it’s a digital one. 

If PR is something you want to explore for your business this season make sure you check the show notes for resources and how-tos to help you along the way. 

What if Q4 Isn’t a Big Shopping Season for You?

Unsurprisingly, the majority of what we talked about today was about getting Q4 ready. But what if holiday isn’t a big selling season for you? Should you still work ON your business this summer?

Well, that depends. If summer is your biggest selling season, then no probably not. In that case, you should use Q4 to work ON your business and start preparing for the new year. 

If neither holiday nor the summer is your busy season then I recommend you start preparing for whenever your busy season is, or focus on some of the more foundational things like your website, email, or maybe even your back-end systems and processes. Only you’ll know for sure what your priorities are. 

Listen to the Episode

Timestamps

00:00 Introduction and Summer Patterns
01:57 Why Summer is Ideal for Business Prep
03:54 Website and Email Optimization
05:08 Prepping for Q4: Product Assortment and Marketing
08:14 Wholesale Program and Holiday Gift Guides
10:45 Alternative Strategies for Non-Holiday Businesses
11:27 Conclusion

Episodes Mentioned
Website Design Resources – Pre-designed Shopify Sections
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