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Summer time doesn’t need to be a shutdown period for SMEs

August is here and many people in the UK are happily planning their escape route to warmer climates.

For small business owners, the prospect of the summer holiday period is slightly more complicated and instead of planning how to keep hand luggage weight at a minimum, many are working up strategies of how to stay efficient and profitable.

During this holiday period, businesses are juggling absences while also ensuring their business is not disrupted.

Making plans around staff holidays during the summer period is a problem for many businesses, both large and small. This either results in a ‘no-cation’ for some or an office shutdown period, which isn’t efficient in either case. According to recent research by Worldpay, one in five small business owners say they haven’t had more than a week off in at least three years.

To get around this SMBs are becoming more familiar with using technology to support the planning and management of both staff holidays, as well as business partnerships and client relations that could be affected during the summer holiday period.

In fact, we recently published a report that said 60 per cent of the respondents surveyed from high growth small businesses, agreed how access to fast and reliable internet connection is an important contributor to successful business growth.

This is no different during the summer time. The questions we need to ask when planning around the summer period include – how can we retain productivity/output levels when partners are hard to reach? How can we ensure that client service levels do not deplete during or around holiday periods? How can we change the way we use technology to support downtime?

With this in mind we have pulled together some top tips small businesses can follow to help avoid a decrease in productivity during the summer slowdown across Europe. This includes boosting marketing efforts, taking advantage of your free time and making the cloud work harder for your business.

There are several steps that small businesses can adopt to help manage holiday periods successfully:

Make a plan and make it count

Everyone knows that planning is key to success, for the summer time, this is really key. The trick is to plan in advance for any surge or decline in demand for your products or services.

Project and account management tools can help with this. From a monetary perspective, tight management of costs and cash flow is imperative for the success of a small business, so make sure you review your spend against forecast regularly and adjust if necessary. It is also important to look at this from a customer perspective as well. Make sure you have all future payments in hand to avoid any delays.

Using online work platforms can also help to manage projects being handed over to other employees during absence. By keeping it on a cloud-based work platform, it means all registered employees will be able to access the work and keep business flowing.

Embrace the cloud

When your team, business partner or customer isn’t in the country or on holiday it can be difficult to finalise decisions. Take advantage of low cost collaboration technologies for improved project management, better workflow, better management of invoicing and knowing that employees and partners have immediate access to critical business information and documents when they need it.

Ensure you have the option for easy video conferencing to help you connect with overseas partners, contractors and customers during the quiet summer period.

Take advantage of your free time!

The summer period may be quiet from a project and client perspective, so take the advantage of more time to invest in research and development (R&D). Take a quiet period and turn it into productive by conducting R&D that can help to reveal if there are other areas into which you could diversify or ways in which you might improve your current offering.

You might also want to catch up on your administration tasks, or review business goals and strategy for the year ahead.

Boost up your marketing efforts

The summer provides much needed headspace to review marketing plans and understand if you need to consider new markets, demographics, or marketing channels. It also provides time to develop content and analyse customer reviews, feedback and journeys that can reshape engagement strategies.

Utilise the added time during this period and focus on the goals and objectives you want to achieve for your business.

Andrew Millard, Senior Director International Marketing at Citrix

Image source: Shutterstock/Willow Dempsey