August is a slow month in most (though not all) businesses. With people on vacation and a general slowdown in activity, it’s often a month in which little of real value is achieved. It doesn’t need to be that way.
Here are ten ways to redeem the month:
1. By now, you know what’s working and what isn’t in your current year plan. Decide which faltering programs and activities to cease for the final third of the year.
2. Decide which already-successful programs and activities to focus on for the final third of the year – what resources can you provide to make them even more successful?
3. Begin the planning process for next year – not by working on numbers, but by listing and challenging the unspoken, implicit assumptions you have developed this year about what next year will be like. Write up a short memo and send it to people whose opinions you trust and ask for their take on your assumptions.
4. Then, write up your first draft of the business plan for next year, not in Excel or PowerPoint, but as if it where the first chapter of a novel.
5. Have one of your team shadow you for three days for a period of immersive mentoring.
6. Shadow one of your team for three days – as their assistant, not as their boss.
7. Spend one day gathering ten books and 50-100 journals, whitepapers, articles or case studies on topics that will help you build a better business. Then schedule a ‘reading week’ (offline and unplugged: web sites don’t count, as you’ll simply hyperlink yourself to oblivion).
8. Write the names of three people you really want to meet, and the three questions you most want to ask them. Then find a way to meet one of them this month – attend a conference or workshop, or simply call them up and ask if they’ll let you buy them coffee.
9. Dumb questions often generate valuable dialog. Call a smart friend who knows little about your business and ask them to morning coffee in your office. Invite your senior managers, and challenge your friend to find out as much about your business as she can in one hour by asking questions of the managers.
10. Ask your biggest customer and your biggest supplier to lunch – together. Ask them how you can build a better business.
Enjoy your August!