How to prepare your small business for the summer

By Lexie Lu

Every business has a slow season that it must survive if it hopes to avoid failure. For many retailers, summer represents a challenging time because people are away on vacation or busy with outside activities rather than going shopping. Of course, this can vary, depending upon what type of company you run.

The average income for a small-business owner is $60,768 a year, but if you aren’t prepared for the inevitable slumps, your profits can disappear into a vapor. Ideally, you’ll plan each quarter in your business well in advance, so you’re ready for marketing efforts, inventory control and events that bring in customers. However, even if you didn’t plan ahead, there are some things you can do to get ready for seasonal changes.

– Get a handle on marketing efforts

Don’t wait until the last minute to plan your summer marketing. Have your seasonal promotions and campaigns ready to go before summer hits. You may have a very limited budget for promotions, but you can use what you have wisely and take advantage of free marketing, such as word-of-mouth or social media mentions.

Investing more of your time can make up for lack of budget when it comes to getting the word out about your brand. Think about the promotions that tie into your brand for the summer months.

– Plan summer-only offers

Summer is the perfect time to offer something you don’t any other time of the year. Your loyal customers will understand they must come in during June, July and August to get the special. For example, if you sell cupcakes, what are some lighter, summer offerings that will draw people in? Can you mix yogurt and cake for a special, seasonal treat?

Huber’s Winery does a nice job of creating seasonal specials for its wine club members. It features a wine of the month that’s only available them. For May, it offers a May Wine.

– Give out summer promotional products

You already know that handing out branded merchandise puts your company in front of consumers and leads to more customer loyalty. When someone receives a gift from you, they’re much more likely to want to do business in the future. Gear up for summer by stocking up on seasonal items. For example, you might hand out sunglasses or water bottles at a local event.

– Consider staffing needs

Are you busier or slower in the summer? Think about the employees you’ll need and how many hours you can give your crew. Now is the time to build your perfect summer staff, not once the season hits. Let’s say you own a restaurant on the beach. Your busy season might be May and June, so you know you’ll need to bring in additional staff to cover those dates. Train the new or temporary workers before your busy time arrives so you can hit the ground running and not miss a beat.

On the other hand, if summer is your slow season, talk to your workers now about changing hours coming up so they can prepare. If you’re upfront about needing to cut hours, they may need to pick up an extra job but are also more likely to stick with you for the long term.

– Plan your own break

If summer is your slow season, it might be the perfect time for you to take a vacation of your own. Running a company is stressful. About 66 percent of small-business owners wear multiple hats, such as marketing, sales and product development. Taking a short break allows you to relax, de-stress and recharge your creative energy. Stepping away from your company for a week or so may help you come back with a fresh perspective and ready to tackle problems that need solving. Your slow season is the best time to take this break because you won’t worry about losing a big chunk of business without you there to oversee things.

– Evaluate inventory

Spend time looking at patterns from past seasons and how much stock you sold in specific categories. This allows you to see if you need more or less inventory on hand. Having too much creates cash flow issues, especially for small businesses. This is one of the leading causes of business failure, so managing your inventory improves your odds of success in a highly competitive world.

– Offer discounts to regulars

If summer is your slow season, as it is for many retail establishments, focus on your regular customers and give them extra attention you may not have time to provide during your busiest season. Throw an event and invite your clients to attend. Send out postcards with discount offers if they come in by a set date. Throw pop-up sales that you only offer during the summer. Think of how you can better meet the needs of your loyal fans and at the same time drive additional business to your store.

Prepare for the next season

Summer is a great time to plan your marketing for the holiday season. If you have extra time, think about what promotions might draw in new customers from Black Friday through the first of the year. It’s also a good time to conduct employee training and invest in upgrades, such as sprucing up your decor in a brick-and-mortar store or updating your website. Summer is a time when everything is green and thriving, and you can ensure your business blossoms as well.


Lexie Lu is a web designer and CX enthusiast. She enjoys covering topics related to UX design, web design, social media and brandingFeel free to subscribe to her design blog, Design Roast, or follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.


  1. Olivia Davis says:

    Great tips! Regardless of what type of business we run, there is always a slow season. Your tips will surely help us survive during the slow times. I guess, another best way to do it is to cut our spending on day-to-day operations especially during the months when there is little revenue. We only need proper planning and budgeting. Thanks for sharing a very helpful article.

    • Jeanne Yocum says:

      Glad you enjoyed the post! Summer isn’t a slow season for everyone, but sooner or later, we all have a slow season so it’s best to have strategies ready to cope.

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