Here’s one of the most valuable lessons I learned in my early days as an entrepreneur: If you’re not working in your business, you should be working on your business. There are always things you can be doing to bring in more business.
Many lawyers have a natural slowdown during the summer because clients are on vacation or spending more time with their kids while they’re on summer break. From a financial perspective, you should build this expectation into your annual plan. On the flip side, take advantage of the break from your usual level of client work to invest in your business.
When business is slower, you can plan your schedule around the mixer events where your typical RSVP is “maybe.” Now you can make it a priority to get out and connect with your fellow entrepreneurs. Remember, there’s value in regularly and strategically showing up at these events. Additionally, this is a good time to schedule more breakfast or lunch meetings to catch up with your contacts.
If you’re in a firm and the whole office is slow, plan an outing in the community. Put on your firm shirts and go volunteer somewhere for a day or half a day — like at a food pantry or animal shelter, or to donate blood as a group. It will give everyone a break from the office for some social time, you’ll be helping your community, and you can take photos for your website and social media accounts. Everyone wins!
Update Your Online Presence
When is the last time you updated your website bio or your LinkedIn profile? This should be at least an annual activity. Anyone who looks you up should be able to easily ascertain the scope of your practice areas and how to contact you.
You can also use your downtime to create evergreen content for your blog or social media — content that will be valid and useful at any time. (I keep telling myself that I’m going to create a blog bank that I can pull from whenever I’m too busy to create a new blog post from scratch – but so far, I’ve been too busy.)
Get Ahead on Your CLEs
Even if your CLE hours aren’t due for months (or years), you might as well knock them out so you don’t have to worry about them later. This is especially true if you’re allowed to roll over any extra hours to the next CLE period.
And if you’ve wanted to create a CLE program, maybe you should do it now, if you have bigger blocks of downtime to go heads-down to do the research, writing, creating slides, and pitching your CLE to groups and firms. It takes a lot more time than most people expect, even if it’s a topic you know forward and backward.
Read Your Business Books
You know that stack of books on your bedside table that you say you’re going to read someday? Someday is now. (Besides, reading is awesome.)
Clean Your Desk
Does the top of your desk look like it belongs on an episode of “Hoarders”? Do you have stacks of paper all over the floor? Do your officemates joke that they’re planning an intervention?
You know who you are.
If your office is a fire hazard, the summer slowdown is a perfect time to take a day (or three) to sort, scan, file and shred the mountain of papers that’s taken over the place. If you need an extra pair of hands, hire a law student to help. (Be sure to pay them a fair amount, not just with a free lunch.)
Review and Revise Your Goals for the Year
Take out your list of goals for the year and evaluate how things are going. Give yourself an afternoon for an in-depth self-meeting to review your progress, challenges, lessons learned, and determine your goals for the remainder of the year.
What about you? What are you doing with your time if you have a summer slowdown in business?