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The importance of the summer vacation Add to ...

For small businesses, one of the biggest challenges is actually getting away, particularly during the summer when the weather is good and being outdoors is a much better proposition than toiling away indoors.

One of the problems is that small businesses tend to have few employees, which means if someone goes on vacation, there might not be enough people to take care of customers or even keep the business open.

So what do you do? How do you take advantage of summer while still taking care of business?

Here are a few strategies:

1. Implement summer hours for July and August. Rather than working 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., shrink the work day to 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. You will still be open for business but cutting two hours, or 22 per cent, from the work day will make life a lot easier while having a minimal impact on the business and customers.

2. Close on Fridays, thereby giving everyone a long weekend every weekend. Let’s face it, most Canadians take long weekends anyway when you consider that the biggest priority after lunch on a Friday is figuring out how early a departure from the office can happen.

3. Shut down the office at noon or 1 p.m. on Fridays. As mentioned above, not a lot of work gets done on Friday afternoons so why fight it? By being open for three or four hours in the morning, customers can get what they need, while employees can wrap things up for the week before heading out. And by giving employees an extra five hours of weekend, you score major points.

4. If there’s a time in the summer when business sags because many customers are away on vacation, take advantage of it by going away as well. Last year, my business pretty much disappeared in August, which made it easy to get away to the cottage. Of course, it was the first year I had been in business so there was some initial panic before I realized it was just a lull in the action as opposed to business going pear-shaped.

The bottom line is that summer vacations, regardless of length, are important for the mental health of a business and its employees. It gives everyone time to refresh their batteries and enjoy the summer at a time when everyone else is doing it.

Special to the Globe and Mail

Mark Evans is a principal with ME Consulting , a content and social media strategic and tactical consultancy that creates and delivers ‘stories’ for companies looking to capture the attention of customers, bloggers, the media, business partners, employees and investors. Mark has worked with three start-ups – Blanketware, b5Media and PlanetEye – so he understands how they operate and what they need to do to be successful. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshUniversity and meshmarketing conferences.

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