Summer brings a different rhythm to business–one you can use to your competitive advantage.

Summer is here, the kids are out of school and the temperature is soaring. You’re also getting tons of auto-respond vacation messages and voicemail greetings that promise a return call when your contact is back in the office … in August.

The pace of business tends to slow down a step or two for most companies in July. Just like any other change, you need to use this one to your competitive advantage.

Summer strategies can look like this:

Because so many of your competitors and customers have hit the beach, this is the perfect opportunity to grab your sunscreen and do the same.


Because business is slow, it’s the perfect time to redecorate, experiment with new systems and clear out all that backlogged paperwork. Maybe you’ll even achieve the legendary InBox Zero.

The benefits and liabilities of each have been described for centuries in Aesop’s fable of the ant and the grasshopper. Work or play? I recommend both:

Play Outside

Summer is a great time for expanding your network and strengthening your connections.  Because business is slower and so many of your contacts are away, you can spend quality time with the people in your network who are still around. Get out of the office and take a long lunch with a customer, prospect, supplier or employee. Learn more about them. What are they worried about? What’s their superpower, and do they use it for good or evil?

Get Someone To Whitewash Your Fence

Maybe the most memorable scene in Tom Sawyer comes when he lures all the boys passing by his house to help him paint the fence. Have 40 hours of data entry to get done? Need to cover the phones?  Write some blog posts? Get an intern. It’s a powerful win/win. Use this time to finally get tedious or onerous chores done and give a bright young student some valuable work experience.

Shake it Up

Summer’s the perfect time to take some well-calculated risks. Want to try a tablet-based POS system?  Do it now when there are fewer customers queued up in your store. Would Jerry be a better fit in Cynthia’s role, enabling you to move Cynthia into a higher-visibility position? Have Jerry pinch-hit for Cynthia while she’s in Dollywood with the family. Low risk. High reward for Jerry, Cynthia, you and your business. Want to replace the Classic 90s Hits playing throughout the store? Audition another Pandora channel. Or not.

Huddle Up

Now’s the perfect time to pull out your 2013 goals and do a halftime huddle. What has your team accomplished so far? What unexpected have cropped up since then? What might the rest of the year look like? It doesn’t take a week of planning to recognize achievements as well as things that could be improved. Regroup and refocus with a short mid-year off-site that fires up the team for a sizzling second half.

Catch Fireflies, Make S’Mores

Summer is another chance to make memories with family and friends. Can’t afford a week at Disneyworld? Load up your car and discover a little piece of America this weekend. Follow the “blue highways” on the GPS–those back roads that are home to reptile wrestlers, air shows, pick-your-own strawberry fields and county fairs. Find shady picnic areas, seashores and souvenir shops. The world will keep spinning. Just go already.

It isn’t that long until Labor Day, when kids go back to school and our summer stroll breaks into our full-on sprint toward the end of the year. Whatever you decide to do with your time, do it with a clear intention and good old enthusiasm.

It’s your summer. Make the most of it!