By Dr. Jeffrey Lant
The summer of 2013 ended (unofficially) in the United States on Labor Day, as it always does; this year it fell on September 5th. If you're like me you jumped up on your desk and did your happy dance, delighted to see the back of the worst summer most of us can remember... distinguished as it was by wars, earthquakes, hurricanes, a punk economy that just refuses to get better, much less take off... oh, yes, and the visits of sundry relatives who would have made you happier by arriving later and leaving earlier. It was indeed a memorable summer... for all the wrong reasons.
Under the circumstances it's not surprising you pulled the covers over your head more often than you'd like us to know and played possum with your responsibilities.
Now hear this: that was then, this is now and your lax summertime habits must now be filed under "good old days", superceded at once and fully by the crackerjack habits which ought to distinguish your enterprise.
Fall counts the most!
For most businesses, the fourth quarter of the year is the most profitable. This means every day matters and you need to keep this objective in mind at all times. A famous 1938 song by Kurt Weill (lyrics by Maxwell Anderson) will assist, "September Song." You ought to play it every day, since the haunting tune and classic words remind you that the days for profit are dwindling down, each one more precious at its end than the last.
Go to any search engine and find the rendition you like most. I prefer the version by Lotte Lenya. She knew Weill pretty well; at least, she married him twice so she probably got extra help.
Here are the adjustments and refinements you must make at once and completely if you expect to be one of the diminished number of business people making profits this year.
1) Adjust your offer. Offers are what make businesses money, and if you want increased sales this quarter, you'd better beef up your offer -- at once.
Now hear this: everybody's not broke! Everybody's not unemployed! Everybody's not about to lose their home through foreclosure, etc. It's just there are far too many good people in these conditions, thereby reducing the number of people who are amply provisioned, have good jobs, fine homes with mortgages up to date, etc., the kinds of people who, as consumers, keep the economy rattling along.
As a result, you have fewer people in your prospect pool... and must work the smarter to motivate them to respond and ultimately buy the item in question that comes with the very best offer you have ever made.
Have you upgraded your autumn offer? If not, you're still on summertime laxities and are heading for penury.
2) Increase your product line and retire the dogs.
If you didn't spend the summer improving and augmenting your product line, then A) you are well and truly behind the eight ball and B) you don't "get" the purpose of summer: it is to do the necessary work, especially in regards to beefing up your product line. In other words, summer is the antechamber to enhanced autumn profits.
One thing this entails is taking a good, careful look at products which are either marginally profitable, or just not profitable at all. These canines must be sent packing, to the old dogs home. Did you so scrutinize your product line in summer? Or were you either clueless, or just plain bone idle? Either way, you've got crucial work to attend to, and you're already lagging.
3) Improve your prospect and customer follow-up procedures.
In summer when a business person says they will attend to the customer's weighty matter "today", "tomorrow," or "next Thursday," what they mean is they'll get around to it when the staff isn't minimized by seasonal vacations and after they themselves have had theirs. Prospects, influenced by the slower rhythms of the summer season, understand that today means "when we can get around to it" some unspecified tomorrow.
But, pray recall, you are not in the slow paced summer anymore. Thus if you want the sale and the profits, you'd better re-educate yourself on the proper meaning of the words you say. Thus, when you say to a customer, "I'll get back to you on that," you are in the process of losing a sale. You should instead say, "Ms. Smythe, I will get back to you tomorrow by end of business, 5 pm." Then do it. One of the worst sins of summertime business folk is vagueness about what they will do for their customers and just when and how they will do it. This irritatingly cavalier approach to your business must not be allowed to creep into fall, although you may already be guilty.
4) Do a complete organizational review to see what you need and what you don't.
As I said above, and here reiterate, summer is the handmaiden, the servant of autumn. Thus, when business wanes and the tempo diminishes from allegro to largo, you do not despair, but rather rejoice that you now have the time to review all procedures, all supplies, all machines and absolutely everything else you'll need for the profitable fall you desire.
Did you so use the ambling days of summer to make sure everything you need for the profitable autumn of your imagining was in place? If not, shame on you... and get cracking on doing the necessary and ensuring you are the peak of organization, efficiency, procedures, the new and better in place, the outmoded and no longer useful trashed.
5) Spruce up your physical environment.
Does your office, your desk, your overall surroundings fit you like an old shoe? Charming. But have you considered what that shoe really looks like, battered, down at heel, worn looking indeed? Comfortable it may be... but the wrong image and inspiration altogether.
First impressions are crucial and should portray you at your best. As for second, third, fourth impressions, they are just first impressions to the nth degree. In short, the first impression must be brilliant... and every other impression, too.
Now look at your work space with its telltale signs of old coffee stains, well-worn carpets, scratched paint and chipped furniture. Is this really the image you wish to project... and do you actually think laboring within such an environment helps you achieve your objectives? An "old shoe" environment begets "old shoe" results. Think about it and make the necessary sprucing ups to the milieu in which you spend so much time and from whence your business successes emanate...
... and one more thing....
6) Set your specific, defined, measurable goals... then move like a bat out of Hell to achieve them.
Do you have objectives for the crucial fall quarter? Not just in your head but on paper, where you can consult, review, and adjust them?
Successful people are fanatics about getting objectives to be achieved by a given date... then going about the daily labor of achieving them. Like the physical environment improvements mentioned above, this is something you should have done during the comparable leisure of summer. Thus this swells the number of things you did not contemplate or do then... but which must be done now. It is a tax success demands... and which must now be paid by you and in full... or else.
And so it is well and truly time to bid farewell to Summer 2013 and get on with the thrilling business of ensuring you will end this year in prosperity, unlike so many who, failing to understand the work of summertime are now fated to diminished results this autumn, for you see as Lotte Lenya knew,
"When the Autumn weather turns the leaves to flame One hasn't got time for the waiting game..."
About the Author Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Dr. Jeffrey Lant is also the author of 18 best-selling business books. http://www.SuccessRoute.biz/?rd=ph6LwV79 Republished with author's permission by Vaurn James http://SuccessRoute.biz