No, I’m not talking spring time allergies. What I’m talking about are those horrible feelings you get when you look at your financial performance or sales figures – if you even look at them, after the winter break. Here in the southern hemisphere, everyone’s excited. We’re coming into spring, the sun’s shining, the birds are singing, the bees are buzzing and a some people are perhaps wondering how the heck they survived another winter in business!
A lot of businesses suffer from the ‘winter blues’ or S.A.D. (Seasonally Affected Disorder) as it’s also known. This is a reality for lots of businesses in Australia that rely on retail, tourism and even construction. Winter is a traditional time for a lot of people to literally go into hibernation. They spend less money, they do less exercise, they go on less holidays, and that tends to drive a bit of a slowdown in the economy.
Often as we come out of that period it’s like the analogy of the bear emerging from his or her den after the winter. We poke our head out to look around and smell the flowers, and all of a sudden we realise one thing, and that is, we are starving. We are so hungry from having gone two, three months or maybe more without a great meal in our business. And so we go on the hunt looking for something to eat.
Spring is literally a great time to reassess, re-plan and refocus on the things that you were probably doing before winter, and before perhaps you yourself got a little bit slow and sluggish. Here’s five things that you can do to make sure that you jump into spring and start buzzing around with the bees and the birds before Christmas comes and you’re not ready for that next break in business, which in Australia lasts for something like three to six weeks.
- Look at your financials. It’s critical to know where you are now so you can plan where you want to go. Sure, you’ve heard that before, but are you doing it? The key is, we know most of the things we should be doing, but we’re just not doing enough of them. Talk to your accountant or your book keeper or your financial controller if you have one. Get them to run the reports for the last three months. Now compare these figures to the first quarter of the year and the last quarter of last calendar year, and the same period last year. More importantly, compare those to your budget or forecast for what you needed to do to make it a great season. TIP: if you don’t have a budget, create one now!
- Reset your goals.It’s time to rethink where you’re heading. Do you still want to be taking that holiday to New Zealand this Christmas? Perhaps you have started a family, employed a new staff member, changed your car, or even just changed your mind. Whatever happened, it’s a great time to actually reassess what your goals are and if what you had as your goals are still relevant and still what you want to be driving towards. Once, you’ve done that, make a list of them then put a dollar figure against as many of them as you possibly can. The total is the amount of profit your business needs to generate if you’re going to achieve all those things.
- Reinvigorate your connections.Often we lose touch with a lot of people during that winter break, and just like the hibernating bear, we get cut off from some of the people, the contacts, the customers, the alliances that we were actively talking to and partnering and doing business with in the warmer months. It’s just like our fitness and health. Winter time, we tend to eat a little more, the days are shorter, we become a little more sedentary, and waistlines start to expand, but also we may become a little more insular. We probably spend a little more time at home, unless you’re lucky enough to live in Cairns. Spring is a great time to reinvigorate the human connections in your business. Book some coffee meetings, sit in the sunshine at your favourite cafe and reconnect with some of your alliances. Perhaps you had some people who were consistently referring clients to you before the winter period? Meet up with them or better still, send some hand written thank you cards and remind people that you’re here. Don’t forget they’ve gone through winter as well, so they’ll be feeling a little sluggish and perhaps suffering some of those same ‘allergic reactions’ to their profit and loss report.
- Spring clean your business.Spring is a great time to physically throw out all the crap you’ve accumulated over the last three months, three years, three decades, however long it is. Clean out your filing drawers, clean up your desk, clean up your office. Clean up that cupboard where you shove all those pieces of paper you don’t know what to do with. Go through them and get ruthless.
Spring clean your business and do the same thing with your house. It’s a great time to create some space, not just physically in your business, but in your mind for new opportunities, new ideas and new directions. Hanging on to all that old stuff is just going to keep you living those old patterns, both at home and in your business.
- Start planting seeds. This is one that many of us overlook. It’s fascinating to see the change in consumer sentiment and buyer activity as the weather warms up. Now is the perfect opportunity to make the next 12 months the best you’ve ever had. Start planting seeds. The analogy might be considered corny (sorry!), but spring is when we literally sow for the next season. If you want to have a bumper crop over the next 12 months and be harvesting big before next winter so you can thrive rather than just survive. What does ‘sowing the seeds’ look like? You need to be thinking about new opportunities – perhaps there’s a new niche that you could be targeting in your business? Maybe your marketing’s become a little stale? Maybe you’re not doing any marketing! Your website might need a refresh. Perhaps it’s time to kick off that email campaign you’ve been thinking about. You could even start chasing some free publicity and writing some great media releases. It’s also a good time to go and get educated and do some new courses or seminars. There’s no better way to stretch your mind around what’s possible for you in your business, than to go and do some more learning. Sign up for some free seminars or workshops, subscribe to a great podcast or another blog and get some new ideas in that fertile ground we call your mind.
So instead of reaching for the antihistamines this Spring, try reaching outside your comfort zone and reset, refocus and recharge ready for a big finish to the year. Who knows, you might even look forward to Winter from now on!