NASE News

Top Tips for Surviving the Summer for the Self-Employed

As a self-employed small business owner, you’re used to wearing many hats. You might be the boss, the marketing department, a childcare provider, and an IT expert all on the same day. You have to keep yourself on track, become an expert at what you do, and keep it all running smoothly at the same time. There is an incredible amount of pride and freedom that comes with being self-employed and running your own business, along with numerous challenges you deal with every day.

As the summer approaches, many small business owners gear up for added responsibilities. You might need to provide childcare when your kids are no longer in school or manage a new summer schedule revolving around daycare, summer camps, playdates with friends, or family visits. Even if you don’t have children, running a small business in the summer can still be an exercise in time management and boundary setting.

These tasks on top of the everyday tasks of running your business can make even the most experienced of entrepreneurs balk. Here are a few of our top tips for surviving the summer as a self-employed professional, no matter what industry you work in.

5 Tips for Surviving the Summer

1. Time management
Self-employed professionals know a thing or two about time management. You have to create your own business, attract clients and customers, meet deadlines, and become an expert at the many aspects of doing your job. Managing your time can mean prioritizing specific projects, allowing others to help with tasks, or saying no to some projects not to overextend yourself. Managing your time well involves doing what you need to do to keep your business running and succeeding in the short and long-term.

In the summer, managing your time might also include childcare on top of your professional obligations. Summer is a time to plan holiday adventures, catch up with family and friends, and invest in your personal and your professional lives. This can add even more pressure on top of your existing professional responsibilities, and often leaves you in a time crunch to get it all done.

If you have additional responsibilities in the summer, you might want to consider when you can work during the day to maximize the enjoyment you get from this season and time spent with your family. Night owls might find that they can get a couple of hours of work done after everyone has gone to bed, while morning people may be able to do the same in the morning before the day gets busy. Practicing flexibility and working when you can is a crucial part of time management in the summer.

2. Planning
Summer can be an essential time to plan for many small businesses. Depending on the industry you work in, summer can be your busiest season or a season that you get to sit back and relax a little. If this is your booming season, you’ll want to take advantage of the new business to save for times during the year that may not be as busy. For companies that slowdown in the summer, this can be a time to look at projects you’ve been putting off and prepare for when business picks up again.

See what tasks you might be able to accomplish to make your life easier in four or six months. What could you do now that will make your business thrive in the future? Planning allows you to make a step by step set of tasks that takes some of the uncertainty out of doing your job well.

3. Set work boundaries
Self-employed individuals often have a hard time setting work boundaries. Everything about running a small business takes up time, and you don’t want to miss out on needed profits because you took a break. However, creating reasonable work boundaries can make your professional and personal lives easier to manage throughout the year.

Summer isn’t just time to work, but a time to play, too. Better weather means coffee in the garden, playdates at the park, and trips to beautiful places with friends and family. This doesn’t mean you have to put work aside altogether; you can bring a few tasks with you on your outdoor adventures.

Taking a break doesn’t mean you forget your business obligations; it means that you are taking time to recharge your energy to meet your professional challenges with a new perspective. Creating a plan for each day and scheduling time away from work can help you achieve your business goals and allow you to enjoy your time off.

4. Automate
Personality is what keeps people coming back to work with small businesses. You can offer a customized and human experience for your clients that isn’t always possible with a larger company. Customers appreciate social interactions with small business owners in their communities. The summer is a time when you might not be readily available for every interaction, though. You may be able to leave your job for a little while in the hands of a trusted employee for a much-needed break.

In this case, automation is critical and can be an essential tool in a small business owner’s toolbox. You can pre-plan and automate digital newsletters with information about your company, set up email responses with an out of office message, and schedule social media posts in advance. While all of these tasks do require some work and planning, they can set up systems that make your life much easier.

Automation doesn’t mean taking the personality out of your small business. Automation means that you choose to make your life easier in some ways to make your working life more efficient and easy to manage.

Some businesses have shifted to offer online shopping options in addition to their brick and mortar locations. This gives small businesses the ability to continue making money even if their physical storefront is unable to open. An online option is great for small businesses that want to reach their local audience and serve those looking for their products from afar.

5. Adapt
Flexibility is critical, especially in 2020. This year has challenged self-employed small business owners in many ways. Some small business owners have seen an increase in business, while others are struggling to adapt to these rapidly changing circumstances. Adapting to new regulations and safety measures has defined our year thus far, and the economic impact continues to spread. Adapting in the ways you can to survive and thrive means asking for help and maybe taking your business in a different direction than you imagined.

Self-employed small business owners can master the art of flexibility because of how they’ve chosen to work. Running your own business isn’t for everyone; some challenges and stresses come with the freedoms that this lifestyle brings. Not everyone is prepared to give up their professional security to dive into business for themselves, and adaptability can make all the difference between succeeding and closing up shop.

Small Business Ownership in 2020
The COVID-19 crisis has upended the expectations of self-employed small business owners. What worked in the past now might not be an option, and being a small business owner this year looks much different than what we are used to. No matter where you are or the industry you work in, there are resources to help you adapt to these new challenges.

Groups like the National Association for the Self-Employed are here to offer help and support for small business owners during these difficult times. Asking for help and support from organizations that specialize in small business ownership is another way to survive the summer and the year. Small business associations can help you create a business plan, adapt your existing business to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 era, set up an online presence, guide your future goals, and much more.

NASE also offers business grants and scholarships in addition to tips for growing your small business using advice from the experts. Life as a self-employed business owner doesn’t mean you have to do everything by yourself; in fact, it means gathering a support system around you that allows you to thrive. While summer 2020 has already thrown us more than a few challenges, we are here to help self-employed small business owners in every way that we are able.

To learn more about resources for self-employed small business owners, contact the experts at the National Associated for the Self-Employed at 1-800-649-6273. Our professionals will be happy to answer any questions you have.