Is it just me, or did Q1 and Q2 absolutely FLY by?
Summer is upon us, and maybe it feels like you’re coming up for air for the first time in a while! I truly believe the summer season is an ideal time for busy creative CEOs like YOU to rest, reset, and recharge.
But early on in your entrepreneurial journey, this kind of bottomless downtime can feel daunting! Instead of feeling confident enough to take a vacation, reduce your working hours, or enjoy time with family and friends, the uncertainty of too much white space on your calendar might make you feel like you’re in a strange summer limbo where time is disorienting, schedules are unpredictable, and business is slower.
Often, this anxiety makes entrepreneurs panic and flail as they desperately try to drum up new leads. On top of business concerns, you likely have different responsibilities to juggle in the summer months (As a mama of 2 little ones… summertime is a whole different ball game than the school year as a business owner and a parent).
No matter how you feel about summer as a business owner, with some intention and thoughtfulness, you can structure your summer strategically so you can set yourself up for success in Q3, Q4, and beyond!
If you’ve been here a while, you know I am NOT about hustling 24/7. I’m not trying to hijack your summer and optimize every spare minute with productivity or business tasks. However, the quieter pace of summer can be an excellent time to regroup, lay foundations, evaluate your progress, and reconnect to why you started your business in the first place!
If you want to take your business to the next level, I’ve curated THREE of my favorite strategies, especially for you! I hope these tools inspire you to work more effectively and mindfully while still honoring the time and space you need for fun this season. With these business tips in your back pocket, you’ll come back stronger than ever this fall!
I cannot stress this enough:
Your business is like a house. If you don’t have a strong foundation in place, you’ll constantly spend your precious time and energy patching things up.
You have an opportunity this summer to hop off the “hamster wheel” and tend to the foundation of your business so it is stronger and better established.
Summer also happens to fall perfectly, smack dab in the middle of the year! You’ve had time to evaluate what is (and isn’t) working in your business. A little tune-up at this halfway point will help you get back on track, respond to the needs of your business, and successfully transition into the rest of the year without skipping a beat!
Before we jump into anything else, you first need to create space so that you know you’ll be able to commit to your maintenance goals.
Carve out some CEO time to work ON your business (not IN your business). It’s easier said than done for many CEOs, but once you commit to wearing your CEO hat more often, you’ll quickly see the benefits!
CEO Time can help you:
And so much more!
You’ll thank yourself for getting out of the weeds, developing a clear big-picture vision for your business, and enjoying some time to dream and scheme outside of the day-to-day tasks of your work.
COO Tip: Hey, CEO! Wonder what it would be like to hire me as the COO of your creative business? Here’s what we’d be working on RIGHT NOW if I were your COO!
One of the best ways to start putting that CEO time you’ve reserved to use?
Check in on your business goals!
Whether you specifically outlined goals way back in January, or have some lofty, undefined goals floating around in your head, now is the time to get clarity.
There’s still plenty of time to hit those goals you have in mind, and to do so successfully, you’ll want a strategic plan!
No matter what kind of goal you have in mind, I highly recommend you set S.M.A.R.T. Goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based (this blog post will break it down for ya!). This will ensure you stay on track and will give you an easy way to know once you’ve met (or surpassed) that goal!
Taking time to re-evaluate your goals will also help you decide where to focus your energy this summer!
COO Tip: If you want guidance as you set financial goals, take a look at this blog post, “The Creative Business Guide To Setting & Meeting Your Money Goals.”
So, what are rhythms in business?
I’m so glad you asked. It’s literally one of my absolute FAVORITE things to talk about.
I define rhythms as recurring responsibilities that cycle in your business. Some rhythms, such as finances or marketing, may be dictated to you, while others may be more flexible or industry-specific.
A rhythm comes up repeatedly, and it is essential for your business to operate, scale, and thrive. Since every business is so different, rhythms are not one-size-fits-all.
Some rhythms will organically fall into place at certain times throughout the year. Typically, there are daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual rhythms.
Let’s take a look at some examples.
Daily: project communications
Weekly: status updates for a client
Monthly: progress reviews, invoices, reconciling your books
Quarterly: seasonal planning (*pay attention to these in the summer months!)
Annually: updates for pricing and policies, offers, & long-term agreements
Summer is a unique time since many of your regular rhythms and routines may change to match your new summer pace! The strength of rhythms is they don’t come to a screeching halt, and they can be flexible to fit your needs in each season of life and business.
All it takes is a bit of intentional planning and consistency.
If you have kids or follow a different schedule in your personal or business life, your rhythms will likely need a little T.L.C. to keep everything running smoothly!
Establishing new, relevant rhythms will help you transition into the summer months without dropping any business tasks in the process!
As a business coach and Outsourced Chief Operating Officer (COO), I LOVE a good system! Systems keep everything running! When you systemize the backend of your business, you won’t feel like you’re duct-taping your business together behind the scenes! Instead, you’ll be able to optimize your time while ensuring you can manage the most essential tasks in your business.
Here are some tasks you can systemize in your business:
Basically, any repetitive task can and should be systematized!
The most powerful systems are those that are revisited often and optimized regularly. They are ever-evolving things that support your ever-changing business!
SOPs take your systems a step further! All businesses, even those run by solopreneurs, need SOPs! SOPs or “Standard Operating Procedures” are super granular instructions that dive deep into the who, what, where, why, and when of your business tasks. They help you think through your current processes so that you can identify inefficiencies, streamline how you work, and easily hand off tasks without sacrificing quality or consistency!
If you’d like to learn more about establishing and implementing SOPs in your creative business, click here to read all about it in this blog post.
Software will support your systems and SOPs. Take time this summer to re-evaluate the software you and your team are using and consider looking at options to optimize, fill gaps, or improve your business operations.
My business relies on these three software systems:
Quick Disclosure: These links happen to be affiliate links, which means when you click the link and make a purchase, it won’t cost you more, but I may receive a commission for sharing this with you. I promise I only ever share what I use and love, so I’d be sharing these with you anyway!
Summer is an ideal time to nurture your relationships with others and yourself! I highly encourage all of my 1:1 coaching clients to take time to tend to their mental health, build a rapport with current or past clients, and strengthen their support system on all fronts!
After all, it takes a village!
The summer is a precious time of year. School is out, schedules are in flux, activities are paused, and vacations are booked. Use this time to pour into your family relationships!
This season may also mean more time for friends! Plan get-togethers, BBQs, and road trips to build and nourish those relationships. When you are more plugged into your greater community, you’ll feel supported on all fronts. Don’t underestimate the power of your people to build you up and keep you going.
In the business world, it can often feel like we’re always striving for MORE, MORE, MORE. While there are absolutely seasons in business when you’ll want to increase your marketing efforts to encourage more work, more clients, and more visibility, I genuinely believe nurturing what you already have is the best strategy.
You’ll find that instead of needing MORE clients, you can nurture the client relationships you already have. Tending to your client experience can cultivate long-term working relationships and lead to ongoing projects or new referrals. This organic way of doing business feels good AND proves effective, no matter your industry.
If your clients are also in a slower season, now may be a good time to touch base with them, talk about your work together, plan for the future, and even request an updated testimonial from them since they may have the time and space to focus on those extra asks now! Testimonials are powerful marketing tools that can provide insight as you improve your overall client experience.
COO Tip: You can also nurture your relationship with your audience through engagement! Consider your current marketing strategy, social media platforms, niche, offers, and ICA. What’s working? What can you double down on? What can you eliminate or revise?
If you have a team, summer is an ideal time to consider how you can best support them, cultivate community, enhance communication, and streamline your internal and client-facing systems.
I highly recommend carving out time to focus on strengthening team relationships. Think of it like those school team-building activities (but cooler!). It can be as simple as prioritizing face time, virtual happy hours, or time to connect outside of the daily grind and work talk!
If you don’t yet have a team but think this is something you may want to do soon to expand your capacity and impact, summer is a great time to lay a foundation for a smooth interview, hiring, and onboarding process. Don’t wait until you desperately need this person (yesterday)! Start now so that when the time comes you can hit the ground running and start your working relationship on a positive note.
P.S. If and when you have a team, don’t forget to encourage your team to take some time off this summer (keep reading to learn more about why THIS is a powerful way to level up your business and nurture your relationships as the boss).
Taking care of your relationship with yourself and your creativity is just as important as nurturing the other relationships in your life and business! Our work as creative entrepreneurs is incredibly unique. Whether you are an artist, a writer, or a designer, your creative passions are very closely intertwined with your business, career, and finances. It can be easy to fall into the trap of seeing your creativity exclusively as a means to an end.
Summer is an excellent time to tap into your creativity, just for creativity’s sake! You can also dive into some personal development to uplevel your skills or dig into something you’re really interested in (whether or not it’s directly related to your business).
Maybe you make something for yourself that you don’t plan to sell or promote. Or, perhaps you try something new and explore a different creative outlet. If you’re a painter, you could try pottery. If you’re a content writer, look into a local poetry class! If you’re a graphic designer, avoid the computer and try roller skating!
There are truly no bounds to our creativity!
The sky’s the limit!
Not only will you have FUN stepping outside your comfort zone or learning something new, but you’ll likely come back to your professional work with fresh ideas and perspectives!
Let me say it LOUDER for the folks in the back.
TAKE THAT VACATION!
If taking down time to level up your business sounds counterintuitive, it’s time for a mindset shift! Pushing through and working non-stop is an unsustainable recipe for burnout! Leveling up isn’t always about making exponential progress in giant leaps and bounds. More often than not, it’s about building steady, consistent progress slowly but surely. This is why taking time away from your business can help you in the long run.
We slow down, to speed up!
Don’t just take it from me (or the Harvard Business Review)! Tons of highly successful entrepreneurs and CEOs do the SAME THING for themselves and their teams! I especially admire Marie Forleo. She literally shuts her entire company down for a few weeks each and every summer!
Talk about walking the walk!
That’s because Marie knows that time off:
For many of us, health and happiness are at the core of what we do, who we serve, and why we felt called to start our businesses in the first place!
I mean, you didn’t leave your 9-5 just to work more, have less time off, and feel WORSE– did you!?
The challenge you now face:
The HUGE responsibility of being CEO of your business, your team, and yourself! You are so unbelievably in charge of your life and work– for better or worse! That means if you don’t prioritize time off, no one else will.
Be the boss you (and your team members) deserve!
If you’re ready to prioritize some much-needed time off, be sure to check out my blog post, “The 5 Essentials Every Entrepreneur Needs For An Unplugged Vacation.”
Shoring up the foundation of your business, nurturing your relationships with your support system, community, and yourself, and taking time away from your business are all excellent ways to tend to your business this summer so you can jump back in this fall feeling aligned, energized, supported, inspired, and rested!
I challenge you to get started with these “to-do” items: