5 Ways to Maintain Momentum During The Summer Slowdown


The countdown is on – my kids are in the last home stretch of school, we have awards ceremonies and themed ABCs Until Summer days – and it’s official: I’ve got three little people at home.

It’s a huge potential to become a distraction and keep me from focusing on my business. At the same time, this is a time of year that I love spending with my kids. It’s a time of year that we can make so many memories. We can go to the pool, and we can go to the beach, and we can go on little vacations.

This is the time of year that many business owners, many entrepreneurs, naturally experience the summer slowdown. Some of us start to think, “My community is off on vacation. There is nothing I can really do except wait until fall. I might as well just kick back and take a break.”

I need you to know, I am a huge fan of vacations.

We have vacations planned all summer long. Everything from a few days away, just having some time hanging out at home, a staycation at the pool. We have whole weeks blocked off, where we’re going with my family out to Chincoteague to see the Pony Penning or a week to visit my inlaws in Hilton Head..

So don’t get me wrong – we have a solid 2-3 weeks of vacation time planned for this summer.

I think this is a time of year where we can really enjoy the fruits of our labor, and I want you to enjoy that, too. I’m also a fan of embracing the natural ebbs and flows in our business so that that can work in my favor.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Understanding natural seasons of your business can set you up for success.” quote=”Understanding these natural seasons of your business can really set you up for success and help you to take off running in the fall.” theme=”style2″]

I remember this story that I’ve read to my kids before, and you might remember it, it’s called The Ant and the Grasshopper. Remember the story?

Here’s the quick version. The grasshopper sees the ant working hard all summer to prepare for the winter ahead. He asks the ant, “Why don’t you just chill out and enjoy this beautiful summer?

Let’s just hang out and go to the beach and go to the pool.” And the ant says, “Well, I’m preparing for winter, and I suggest that you do the same thing.” The grasshopper thinks the ant is crazy to pass up this beautiful summer so he ignores the advice.

And then the seasons change, and suddenly that grasshopper is freezing his booty off and starving, while the ant is happily reaping the rewards of all of his hard work.

For many entrepreneurs, especially us working moms who are juggling kids who are off on their spring break or summer break, summer can bring a dip in new clients and revenue.

Whether we’re just juggling our own family during that time, or it’s a time of year where our own clients are off on vacation and they’re not thinking about coming in to see us or to work with us, it can feel really easy to slip into those lazy days of summer, just like that grasshopper.

I want you to know that the summer slowdown is a perfect time to build your business.

When you’re experiencing a quiet time in your business, it’s so easy to kick back and wait for things to just kind of naturally pick back up again. You might even rationalize that shutting down for a month so you can go on vacation, because all your clients are on vacation and you should just take the time off, makes sense.

But this can be a very reactive approach, and it can be one that sets you up for that feast or famine cycle because Labor Day rolls around, people are getting back into their routines, they’re home from vacation, and then you’re running around like a crazy person trying to get everything back in action, trying to build up the momentum you lost over the summer.

So I’m a huge fan of taking breaks and vacations, but not at the expense of having a sustainable business that continues to work for me, that’s continuing to generate clients and revenue and, ultimately, helping me to continue supporting my family.

[clickToTweet tweet=”It’s much easier to keep momentum going through the summer then start from scratch in the fall.” quote=”It’s much easier to keep that momentum going through the summer than to just shut everything down and then start from scratch in the fall. ” theme=”style2″]

Let’s go back to that parable, and say that our little ant is a farmer. Every summer he plants lots of seeds. He nurtures them into little seedlings, he fertilizes them and helps them to grow until fall, when he harvests his crop.

The little ant knows that not all the seeds will become seedlings. He knows that some of those seedlings might take a few years to bear fruit. He also knows that if he spends his summers planting and nurturing those little fruit trees, then for years and years to come he will have established trees that consistently give fruit.

This is really the journey of the entrepreneur.

Those first few years, it’s going to take more effort to build your business. Not every idea is going to take off. It might take a while for your marketing to get traction and to start sending new clients your way consistently, and you’re racing up that entrepreneurial learning curve to figure out your path to predictable profits.

Entrepreneurs who use these slower seasons in their favor, they use them as an advantage, to work on the big picture of their business and marketing, are the ones who, a year or two from now, will have a more sustainable business.

The point here is it’s all about taking advantage of those slower seasons so that you can plan ahead.

If you’re at a time when you don’t have to stress so much about being in the day-to-day of your business, now is the perfect opportunity to work on your big picture.

Here are a few ideas for how you can get the most out of your summer slowdown, to set yourself up for success in the second half of 2019.

1: Do a Mid-Year Review.

First, make some time for a mid-year review. It doesn’t take that long. It might take you 30 minutes to do a mid-year review, but it really will help you to see whether you are on or off track for your plans, your goals, so far this year.

This is so important because if you’re anything like me, the goals you set back in January, the plans you had mapped out, they might have completely changed. You might have a completely different game plan than you had initially drawn out at the beginning of the year.

You don’t want to sit down and do a big planning session and map out your year, and then just let that document hide somewhere and you never look at it again.

This is the time where you sit down and see, are you actually following the plan? Is the plan working? Are you on track or off track? And you need to adjust accordingly.

Mid Year Review

Are you on track to achieve your 2020 goals?

Download your free workbook to check in with a Mid-Year Review!

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The goal of the workbook overall is for you to actually figure out what’s working so far this year for you.

  • What offerings are selling well?
  • What marketing strategies are really getting the results you hoped for?
  • What’s not working?
  • What did you try that just flopped completely?

You want to ask yourself are you on track or off track for your revenue goal. If your revenue goal was to make 60k this year, this far into June, are you at about 30k year-to-date in revenue?

Take Action! Download the Mid-Year Review workbook to get clarity on how your business is going so far in 2019 and look at the next half of the year.

Mid Year Review

Are you on track to achieve your 2020 goals?

Download your free workbook to check in with a Mid-Year Review!

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2: Upgrade Your Systems

Now the next thing, and this is a big priority for me in my business most summers, is upgrading your systems.

If there’s one thing that will help you to grow your business, it’s having the right systems in place so that you can more easily leverage your time and your energy. Having the right systems in place can also help you get a support team in place really easily.

If you’ve been running everything by yourself, you’ve been a one-man or a one-woman show, then having systems in place, actual documented systems walk you through step-by-step for each task or each project, will help you to hire, onboard, and really get a team member up and running in your business.

One of the things that my team will be focused on this summer is going in and doing kind of a systems audit and a systems review, making sure that everything is where it’s supposed to be, nice and clean and organized so that we can find what we need to find.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Summer’s a great time to either set up the system or to audit the system. ” quote=”Summer’s a great time to either set up the system or to audit the system, clean up the system, make sure that it’s all updated so that we all have the right information in front of us.” theme=”style2″]

What kind of systems should you put in place in your business?

Well, here’s a few that we depend on behind the scenes, here at Racheal Cook HQ.

: Google Apps for Work.

I don’t know what we’d do without Google Apps for Work.

We use Gmail to handle all the email addresses in our business. We use Google Calendar to keep everyone on the same page. We use Google Drive & Google Docs for all of our processes, planning, and tracking.

We pay like $10 a month for the paid version. It is so, so worth it.

: Asana.

A tool like Asana, which is a project management tool, really helps us to keep track of all the moving parts in our business.

This is one of those things where it might be easy to think that because you’re a solo entrepreneur, you can just keep track of everything in your head or on Post-it notes, just scratch pieces of paper.

But honestly, if you ever plan to have a team, if you ever plan to collaborate with people or have a virtual assistant, you really need to have one dedicated place where you’re keeping track of all those projects and timelines, because those moving parts can get away from you really, really quickly.

I make sure that even when I’m sitting here doing my planning, which often, I’ll be honest, is a bunch of Post-it notes spread all over my desk, and notes on a calendar, a paper calendar, I will sit down and load it all into Asana so that my entire team knows what everybody is working on, we know what the timelines are for everything, and nobody is surprised.

It really helps me to stay focused and stay on track, and it helps my team to know all of the things going on in my business, so they’re not surprised when I say, “Hey, we’re focused on this now,” because it’s already been in front of them.

: Calendly.

These days, I don’t need a huge client management app because most of my clients work with me inside my online programs and masterminds. However, there are times when people need to get on my calendar easily without a ton of back and forth.

I love Calendly because not only is it SO EASY to use, but when you upgrade, you have additional features like the ability to send text message reminders and accept payment for appointments.

My husband is currently loving Dubsado for his podcasting production business. It’s great because everything he needs – from new client inquires to scheduling to invoicing to client management is all in one app.

It streamlines so much on your end, and it helps show up for you to your client as an absolute pro. Okay, so once you’ve taken some time to upgrade your systems, then you can look at some other things.

3: Get Ahead On Your Content Marketing

Next, upgrading your content marketing strategy.

Raise your hand if blogging, newsletter, social media is it a big part of your overall client attraction strategy? Yeah, me too. Educational-based marketing, it has been the cornerstone of how I’ve grown all my businesses over the last 10 years.

This time of year, I find, is the perfect time to plant those seeds and nurture community with amazing content. When the fall rolls around and people are back on track, they’re back into their normal routine.

When the time comes to invite them to work with me, they are excited to learn more about what I have to offer because I’ve been sharing relevant, useful content.

But the thing about this type of marketing, content marketing, educational-based marketing, is it is a commitment, and it’s not always easy to come up with ideas for what you want to write about, much less find the time to sit down and write it or to create it on a regular basis.

I’ve found, over and over again, that summer is a great time to sit down, to brainstorm all the types of content, all the podcast episodes, all the content upgrades, all the upcoming master classes. I will sit down and I will brainstorm and I will create a lot of it during the summer.

From my own experience, I know that Fall is a big transition time for my family and a huge time in my business. If I take the time now, during maybe a slower season, to create 12 weeks of content, it ensures that I don’t miss a week going into? Fall because I’m overwhelmed with launching something or filling another program.

I can make sure that that part of my marketing engine in my business is already handled, and it helps me to make sure that my fall, a busy season in my business, is just that much smoother.

3: Update Your Brand

Another thing you can look at doing in your business in the summer months is upgrading your brand.

Now, branding is much more than the colors and the logos and the design of your website. It’s just the overall message of your business. It’s the purpose, the why of what you do.

It’s how your business shows up in the world. Sometimes your brand needs a little update, needs a little makeover, needs a little refresh.

You have to remember, we all grow and evolve, and if you work with more and more and more clients, you’ll get more and more clarity about who you’re here to serve, what you really do best, what your highest value is.

Does your existing brand accurately reflect that to the rest of the world?

This is the perfect time to upgrade your messaging and upgrade your positioning to truly reflect all of the value you bring to your clients. And when you do that, then there’s no more being told that you’re too expensive because they truly know that working with you is worth every penny.

A few summers ago, I went through a huge rebranding process and it was intense.

It was a rebranding process that completely overhauled my entire website from head to toe. We had a photo shoot. We rewrote all the copy on the website. We redesigned all of my offerings from head to toe. It was huge.

This summer, I’m happy with my personal brand. I love my photos, I still love the website, but my messaging has shifted a bit. So I’m looking at things like where on my website do I need to do a few tweaks?

I already had plans for re-writing the copy on my website. I already had plans for tweaking my social media strategy.

Summer a great time to review your website, to make those tweaks, to review your social media strategy, to review everything, and make sure that you’re really presenting your best, best possible first impression to the world.

5: Upgrade Your Offerings

And finally, another thing you can work on this summer is to upgrade your offerings.

Summer really is the perfect time to plan and create new offerings. This is the best time, I see, for people, when things are a little bit slower in your business, this is when you can actually break free from that feast or famine cycle of hourly work by creating, maybe an online program, or a group program, or productize your services, or simply upgrade your existing offerings.

The first summer that I ever offered my signature program, Sweet Spot Strategy, it was the summer of 2011. That was when my husband, who is a seventh grade English teacher, was home on his summer break, so it was the perfect time for me to really create a robust program.

I remember so many days of him handling kids. The twins were literally a year old, about a year and a half old at that point … he was managing babies, I was creating slides and creating workbooks and recording create my program.

There were many nights where the kids were finally asleep and I was recording things at night. It was just a great time to create that program because I had the support I needed behind the scenes in my business with my assistant, but also in my personal life, to make sure that I could create the program I wanted to create.

Honestly, over the last six years now, there have been at least five major updates to the program, where I’ve completely overhauled it, head to toe, completely rerecorded the entire program.

This summer, I’m doing a complete overhaul, a renovation of my signature program! It’s going to be a lot of work and I probably won’t even get it completed until it’s almost 2020 – but this summer will be a lot of the heavy lifting breaking down all the trainings and overhauling how we serve our community.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Ask yourself what products, programs, or services need an upgrade to better reflect your value.” quote=”Ask yourself what products, programs, or services need an upgrade to better reflect the value that you offer. ” theme=”style2″]

While I completely plan to enjoy my four day summer work week, and I’ve planned a few vacations this summer, I have plans for my business.

I plan to be looking and reviewing all of our systems and making sure that behind the scenes everything is running as smoothly as possible.

I plan on working on my content strategy so that when I go into fall, I already have the entire next 12 weeks, or really, end of the year, from September to December, content already recorded and ready to go so that I don’t have to stress about that.

I plan to have some time to look at my website and tweak a few things, my home page, and maybe a couple other places on my website. And I plan to add some bonuses and add some upgrades to Sweet Spot Strategy, to deliver an even better experience.

That’s what I’ll be working on, to make sure that I’m setting myself up for success and setting myself up to continue to grow my business in the second half of 2019.

I’d love to hear from you.

What are you doing to keep the momentum up this summer, and to make sure that when fall hits and everybody’s back on their regular schedule?

The days are longer and warmer. We are ready to hang out by the pool with a cold iced drink. If you’re anything like me, you are looking forward to some of the slow days of summer. This is a time of the year that a lot of us want to just sit back and relax a little bit. But at the same time, we don’t want to lose momentum in our business. How can we make sure we’re being proactive, avoid the summer slowdown, and make sure our business is ramping up to the fall? Let’s get into it.

Are you ready to grow from solopreneur to CEO? You're in the right place. I'm your host, Racheal Cook. I've spent the last decade helping women entrepreneurs start and scale service-based businesses. If you're serious about building a sustainable business, it's time to put the strategy, systems, and support in place to make it happen. Join me each week for candid conversations about stepping into your role as CEO, the hard lessons learned along the way, and practical profitable strategies to grow a sustainable business without the hustle and burnout.

Hey CEOs. As we are getting ready for these summer days to hit us, I wanted to come to you today to talk about how we can find a nice balance between having a relaxing summer break and avoiding losing momentum in our business. This is the big fear that I see for a lot of entrepreneurs and it can be really easy to feel like, “Well, my clients are checking out for the summer. They are going on vacation. It’s getting harder to make sure my calendar is full or that my clients are available.”

I know a lot of people who just start to throw in the towel and say, “You know what, summer is not the time to build my business. Summer isn’t the time to grow my business.” At the same time, we don’t want to be showing up in the fall and not having people ready to work with us, not having our potential clients excited about our next available opportunity to join our product, program, or service.

What do we do here? How do we take advantage of this slower period during this summer? One of the things that we are trying to avoid with all of our clients is the feast or famine cycle. If you understand the feast or famine cycle or you've caught yourself in the feast or famine cycle, you know that sometimes while we dream of being able to take a full month away for vacation, if we don't have the right systems in place, if we don't have the right infrastructure in place in our business, that month away can really set us back.

I'm a huge fan of taking breaks and having vacation. I've got a couple of weeks of vacation planned for the summer. I've already planned that I'm going to be doing my three day weekends all summer long and none of that is at the expense of having a sustainable business that continues to work for me, that's continuing to get in front of new potential clients, getting them excited about the next available opportunities to work with me, and ultimately, continue my business to be a running profitably.

What do we want to be thinking about when we are planning for the summer? What do we want to be thinking about for how we can take advantage of these slower seasons so that we can start to get ahead? If this is a time of the year where you don't have as much happening day to day, it can actually be a great opportunity to work on the bigger picture for your year. Here are a few things to help you get the most out of this slower summer period, to set yourself up for success in the second half of 2022.

First, do a mid-year review. In fact, I've created a workbook to go along with this for you. We just shared an episode about doing a mid-year review. Your review does not need to take that long. It might take you 30 or 60 minutes to do a mid-year review, but it will help you to see where you are on or off track for your plans, your goals so far this year.

This is so important because I often hear from people that they set their goals in place back in January at the beginning of the year, they had these grand plans for what they wanted to accomplish, but then a few months into it, things start changing, things start shifting. You might have a completely different game plan than what you had initially started the year with, maybe new opportunities showed up, maybe something really started taking off and you decided to put everything in that direction, or maybe you just got distracted and got off track.

Whatever happened, we want to sit down and actually look at what our progress has been so far this year. We don't want to do a once a year planning session and then that document is hidden and we never actually pull it out and look at it again. Go ahead and head to the show notes and I want you to see, are you following the plan? Is the plan working? Where are you on track? Where are you off track? What do you need to do to adjust your plan?

The goal of the Mid-year Review workbook is to really help you fine tune and hone in on what is working. There are things that are probably working in your business. Do you have an offer that is selling really well? Are you aware of what your most profitable offer is so far this year? Are you seeing specific marketing strategies work better or worse than previously? What isn't working? What just flopped completely? You want to ask yourself these questions.

You also want to ask yourself, are you on track or off track for your revenue goal? If your revenue goal was to make $100,000 this year in take home income, and you knew you had to make $200,000, $250,000 a year in revenue in order to have that take home income goal, are you at $100,000 in revenue? Are you on track or are you off track? If you're not on track, doing a mid-year review will help you to get the clarity you need to decide where you should spend your time, energy, and resources. Especially during the summer months, you can go all in on the strategies that are going to make a huge impact for you and your business.

Now the second thing that you could be looking at during the slower summer months are upgrading your systems. Now this is something that actually we have just built into our annual plan of how we run the business. We know that towards the end of June, July, and the beginning of August, things are generally a little slower for us, for our community, for our clients, so knowing this in advance helps us to go ahead and plug in that the beginning of Q3 is really going to be all about making sure our systems are working incredibly well.

If there's one thing that will help you in growing your business more sustainably, it's having the right systems in place so that you can leverage your time and your energy, so that you are working smarter, not harder. Having the right systems in place is also key to being able to bring on support team more easily. If you don't have systems in place, if you've been running everything by yourself, maybe you've been a one woman show, and you don't actually have documented how things work in your business, it is so hard to bring a new team member on and get them on boarded and up and running quickly without documented systems.

This is something that we're working on every year. We make sure we go through and review all of our systems. We look for what systems need to be upgraded, we look for what systems need to be documented. We ask the team for their feedback. We are always looking for what are the bottlenecks or where are things breaking.

We want to make sure that as we're doing this audit and review, making sure that everything is in the right place, it's where it's supposed to be, it's organized, and easy for people to understand, the whole team will have an easier time moving forward when we get into our busier seasons because for us, end of August through really, December, January is a really busy season for us.

Summer is a perfect time to set up a system, to audit a system, to clean up the system, to upgrade the system just to make sure it's totally upgraded and you have the right information in front of you and your team. What kind of systems do you need to put in place in your business? If you're hearing me say systems and you're like, “I don't know exactly what that means, what that looks like,” a system is simply a documented process that you follow in different things you're doing in your business. Over time, you will end up with a lot of documented systems. This becomes your standard operating procedures. But here's a few that we really depend on that might be able to help you out.

First, we use Google Apps for work. Google Apps for work is incredible. It's an amazing suite of tools. We do pay for it. I think it's like, I don't know, $10, $20, $30 a month. I don't even know anymore. But basically we use all the Google suite of tools in the business. We have racheal@rachealcook.com and hello@rachealcook.com, etc. We have our custom email addresses, but they're all run through our Google Apps for work.

What I love about this is we have all of our email running through Google. We have the Google calendars that we have set up, we have my calendar that is set up, we have the team calendar that is set up, we have the calendar for all of our clients that are set up. We use one calendar, all of our calendar stuff goes to hello@rachealcook.com. All of our Drive and our Google Docs, they're all in the hello@rachealcook.com. We only have one Drive, one login for pretty much everything, and that makes it so much easier.

I also have to say that as someone with a team, it makes it a lot easier when you have one place that everybody can go and get access to things. I do separate out my business from my personal. I have a personal Google Drive. I have a personal email. My team doesn't need to look at any of that. There's plenty of things that I keep on my own that are separate from the business. But anything related to running the business is in the team Google account. It is super worth it to have that and to have it set up in advance so that it's really easy for your team to just jump in there and get access to what they need.

Speaking of team and giving people access to something, I love LastPass. If you don't have LastPass, I highly recommend getting this tool. It is a password manager. What I like about LastPass is everybody on my team downloads LastPass, they use their own login and sign on, and I give them access to specific things that they need access to.

When we onboard somebody on the team, it's really easy for me to say, “Oh, you need access to our Google Drive. You need access to our membership site. You need access to our Zoom account.” Whatever it is our team needs access to, we can set up those access points and then we're never having to go back and forth juggling like what sign on goes to what. It's all safe. It's all secure. I'm able to determine what they do and don't get access to. This is another tool that is just super, super helpful when you're bringing people on in your team.

Thinking of email, we also use HelpScout. HelpScout is an email help desk basically where it allows us to have one central area where all of our emails come in. We actually have multiple emails behind the scenes in the business depending on are they public facing emails? Are they personal emails? Are they emails for our mentors inside of The CEO Collective, etc?

But what I like about HelpScout is if you're trying to manage as much email as we get in a single Google Gmail account, it can get really messy and really hard to track things, really hard to follow up, really hard to tag and all of that. HelpScout is really helpful for us. It allows us to have all of our email come in one place. My assistant, Mackenzie, is the first contact in the inbox. She goes through and assigns emails based on who that email needs to go to.

If you ever sent us an email, Mackenzie is the first person to get it. She reviews it. If it's something she can answer, because there's a ton of stuff, she already has FAQ emails ready to go, she has email templates ready to go, she can point people to a lot of what they need, then she answers it. But if it needs to go to somebody else, she can assign it to me or to someone else on the team. I think that's really, really helpful that we can assign to each other.

We can tag the email, so if somebody's inquiring about the upcoming CEO Retreat, we can tag them CEO Retreat June 2022, then if I'm going back to look at who I need to follow up with, I click that tag and it brings up any of the other email conversations. I think that is super helpful.

It also helps us that you can have notes on emails. What will often happen is emails will come into the inbox and somebody has been having a conversation with somebody and they need me to jump in and send something. They'll put a note on that email that our client doesn't see or a potential client doesn't see. It's an internal note. They can say a quick summary of what the conversation has been so far. Can you reply to them about XYZ? HelpScout is very, very, very helpful, especially if you are getting a lot of emails if you have a lot of people on the team that need access to emails and you want a way to keep things organized. I love that.

Another tool we use is Asana. We have always used this project management tool. Again, you might not have ever used a project management tool if you are a solo owner operated business. But as you get more team involved and you have more things going on, you need a way to track what is happening in the business, what projects are happening right now, where everybody's progress is, who is in charge of what, what are the timelines and deadlines, making sure that you have one place where you can keep all of that information instead of constantly worrying that you're forgetting something or things falling through the cracks.

This is one of those things that when you're a solo entrepreneur, I often find people are keeping track of just huge, long to do lists. They have scratch paper with notes on them, they have post it notes everywhere, but if you are ever planning to have a team, if you're ever planning to collaborate with people, you want to have a virtual assistant, you need anybody to support you behind the scenes, then it's important to start having a dedicated place to track those projects, to track those timelines. Because when you have a lot of balls in the air, it's really easy for some of them to start dropping if you don't have line of sight into what you're doing.

Now those of you who have done The CEO Retreat with me and who have gone through the planning process with me, you know that I'm old school when I am actually doing big picture planning. I have out my post it notes. I have my planner. I have my dry erase board. I am making a big ol mess on my desk when I am in the planning process. Because that is a creative process. That's where I'm putting stuff together and I'm moving stuff around. It's a little bit messy and disorganized as I am coming up with the plan.

But once I’ve finalize the plan, then I make a more straightforward version of that in Asana. That way, the whole team knows, “Hey, this is what we're working on. We're working on this website rebrand. Here's all the things that need to happen. Here's who it needs to be assigned to. Here's our deadlines for X, Y, and Z.” That helps not only me stay focused and on track, but it helps my team know what's going on. They have line of sight into what the priorities are going on in the business.

Another tool that I have to mention is Calendly. Calendly is a scheduling software. I don't need a huge client management system like Dubsado or HoneyBook, or Paperbell. I have heard amazing things about each of those systems, I just need a simple scheduling tool. Because most of the time, I don't have a lot of ongoing scheduling needs. I just need something that's simple and easy for people to use, where if they are scheduling to get on my calendar, they complete an intake form, they put their payment in, it sends reminders. I can even have all the email reminders and follow up automated inside of Calendly which I love.

If I'm doing just a free bonus session for one of my CEO Collective clients or I have somebody paying me for a one time strategy session, whatever that is, Calendly makes it super, super easy. Now I do use the paid version because I do have some clients who will purchase a time with me, they want to purchase a one time strategy session with me on top of working with us in The CEO Collective. That just made it super easy for them to pay and schedule right at the same time.

Now I will say, I have a lot of people inside of The CEO Collective who are raving about Dubsado. They love Dubsado, so if you are a service provider who needs to manage everything from new client inquiries to invoicing to client management and tracking progress in a creative project or a service, that can be an amazing, amazing tool for you.

Again, these are paid but the amount of time you will save way outweighs the nominal cost. It just streamlines so much on your end. I think when clients see that you have so much streamlined, that it's really easy to get on your calendar, to pay you, to get reminders from you, that shows a level of professionalism that you have this attention to detail. It really, really helps your clients have a better experience.

What else do we work on upgrading behind the scenes? We talked about some quick tools and systems that you might want to have in place, but let's talk about bigger systems that you need to have in place. One is your overall marketing system, your overall marketing strategy. This is an area that if you have listened to the podcast for any number of months or years, you have heard me talk about our marketing strategy, attract engage, nurture, invite delight. If you know that marketing is a huge part of your strategy, if you know that getting visibility for your business is key to you growing your business, then you know that we have to make sure we can stay consistent with it.

Because when we're inconsistent with showing up, then people forget about what we're doing. It's like out of sight, out of mind. This is a great time of year to make sure that you're setting yourself up for success for the final six months of the year, that you're setting yourself up by thinking through the first three core parts of your marketing strategy. How are you attracting clients into your business? How are you engaging them? How are you nurturing them? Let's talk about these three things and how I think through this.

I actually start in reverse. I start by thinking about when am I going to be selling certain offers because that helps me figure out what the Nurture strategy is going to be, then I go work myself backwards from there. I know going into the second half of the year, that in July, I'm going to run a one time workshop to talk about marketing strategy. I'm planting that seed right now. If you're interested in doing a deep dive into marketing, I'm doing a one time intensive workshop all about how we approach marketing inside of The CEO Collective.

Then in August, we will reopen the doors for The CEO Collective. In September, we have a CEO Retreat coming up. In October, I’m leaving that open right now. I may repeat the marketing intensive workshop again. In November, we run Plan Your Best Year Ever and then we open up the doors again for The CEO Collective.

I already know what I'm selling every month through the end of the year. Then I can work backwards. When I'm asking myself, “Okay, if I'm going to sell this marketing intensive workshop in July, how do I need to nurture people for that?” What are my Nurture channels? My Nurture channels are my podcast, they are my email, they are my social media.

On all of those things, you better believe I am going to be showing up talking about marketing, talking about how we approach marketing, talking about the mistakes most people are making their marketing, or why their marketing is not working, or what has changed in marketing in the last few years because a lot has changed. I already know what I'm going to talk about for that Nurture content going into that offer being made available.

I'll go through this process for each and every offer. I'll think through what do people need to know before I invite them into The CEO Collective? What do they need to know before we promote The CEO Retreat? I will work backwards from there. Then I'll go back another step and say, “Okay, what am I doing to engage people into my ecosystem here, into my entire community?” My community consists of my email list, that's what I'm tracking the most of, but it also consists of my email newsletter, my social media, etc.

What do we have that we are sending people through? One of the things that we have is we have a lot of resources that are available. We have the mid-year review. It's available on the show notes page, you can go download that now. That engages people, gets them onto our email list and into our ecosystem. I have a lot of other resources similar to that: the Business Growth Checklist, the 12-month profit plan, we have the CEO Date, we have to Get Paid Calculator, all of those are available all the time on my website. We will promote them at different times of the year.

That's one thing that I have going on to Engage. I also have the Fired Up & Focused challenge we will be bringing back. I have the Plan Your Best Year Ever challenge. Those aren't available all the time. They're something we promote during specific times of the year. But those are great Engage tools to help get people into our community and onto our email list.

Then I'm also, again, backing up one more step, well, how are we getting people to our email list? I encourage everyone, if you don't have a strong Attract strategy, if you are seeing that you're not getting growth in your community, your numbers aren't going up, your website traffic is not going up, your email list size isn't going up, your social media is not going up, if you're not seeing things go up but instead they're going down because of attrition, because over time people will unsubscribe or unfollow, then we need to address the Attract strategy.

How can we do that? My biggest attract strategy, I talk about this a lot, is doing interviews for other people's podcasts. I have a goal for myself every month to have three or four interviews on other people's podcasts. Most of those come from the team that I work with at Podcast Ally. Brigitte's team pitches me for podcasts on people's podcast, but I also have a fair amount of people who come to me just because they're in my network, I already know them I reach out to them on a regular basis to see if there's an opportunity for us to collaborate and do an interview on each other's podcasts. That's one Attract strategy that I'm committed to. Every single month, I have a plan for how I'm going to get to two, three, or four interviews a month.

You might also be thinking about doing search engine optimization. If your main strategy is people finding you via search, then you're optimizing for SEO, you're making sure that people are finding the content that you're creating, you're really investing the time and energy to send that traffic to your website. I tend to like other people's audiences as in being in an interview on other people's podcasts a lot more because I'm not the techiest person in the world. Search is something I pay somebody on my team to optimize this for. But I consider my focus to be getting in front of other people's audiences.

You may also consider paid advertising. Paid advertising is an opportunity for some people that makes a lot of sense because if you don't have the time but you have the money, you can get yourself in front of a lot of people very quickly.

Another thing to think about is where is the organic traffic potentially coming from. I've shared this before but I'm in the middle of my six month TikTok experiment. It is going really well. So well, in fact, I would say TikTok to me is not a Nurture channel as much as it is an Attract channel. The way we're using TikTok—and I can talk about this more if you're curious—but TikTok is definitely pushing my content out to the For You page. Something like 90% to 95% of the views I'm getting on my content is all from the For You page, which means it's getting in front of brand new people, not people who are my followers. That's a great opportunity to get visibility on my business.

The next step is getting them back into my full ecosystem, getting them to my email list, getting them to my other social media channels, getting them to my podcast, and we are seeing that happen. We are seeing that happen in the uptick in numbers and traffic from that.

I want you to be thinking through what is it that you need for each of those three core parts of your marketing strategy? How are you attracting people? Make this check-offable for yourself. Don't just say I'm going to do podcast interviews, but you haven't set something to tell whether or not you've succeeded in that. We want to make sure we're saying “My goal is to have two podcast interviews a month. My goal is to have four podcast interviews a month.” You want to make sure it's check-offable and you're working towards that check-offable goal.

If it comes to your Nurture strategy, and you're thinking through what content do I need leading up to that, you actually sit down and brainstorm. I will brainstorm, I have four Thursday's in July, what content is going to go out and for each of those Thursdays? Once I sit down and have that plan, it becomes so much easier for me to batch, for me to get ahead, and when I'm a little bit ahead because I already have a plan and I'm working ahead in the plan, then when I want to take the two weeks off in August that we're going to take to go to Hilton Head and enjoy family time, it is a total piece of cake because the team has everything they need for me and I can take that time off without any issues.

When I know that my marketing engine is continuing to run really smoothly in the business, it means even if I am taking a long weekend, or going on vacation, or just enjoying a little bit of a slower pace, the marketing systems are still working, there's still activity happening.

Another thing that I think can be a great opportunity in the summer months is upgrading your brand. This doesn't necessarily have to mean a full overhaul of your brand, but how your business shows up in the world matters because how your business shows up in the world is usually the first impression people have of your business.

Unfortunately, I hear from a lot of entrepreneurs, especially when they are several years into their business, is they start to feel like their brand is a little outdated or their brand just doesn't fit them right anymore. Because maybe you have grown, maybe you have evolved, maybe you have more clarity about who you're here to serve. Maybe you have more clarity about the problem you can actually help the most with. Maybe you have more clarity on what you do best.

This is a great time to do a little audit of your brand, of how you are showing up in the world, and ask yourself, does your existing brand accurately reflect your value, your business's value, what you have to offer to the rest of the world? This is a perfect time to do an audit of all the different elements of your brand. This is a perfect time to upgrade your messaging, to upgrade your positioning, to reflect the value you bring to your clients.

When you do that, it really helps because this is how we make sure that we are attracting the right fit clients. This is how we make sure we're attracting people who actually value what we have to offer. I just went through this process. I just went through this with The CEO Collective. We decided to do this huge rebrand and shift the umbrella from being under Racheal Cook, which is a personal brand, to The CEO Collective is the brand. The CEO Collective is now officially the name of my business. It was intense.

This rebranding process really had us questioning everything. It had us questioning everything from how we were visually representing The CEO Collective. I made the decision that I didn't want it to be the website, all the collateral, all the things out in the world. I didn't want it to just have my face on it everywhere. I wanted it to be about this company and this community of clients that we are serving.

We made sure that when we're talking about visual brand, it's not just my face everywhere that we're showing our clients, that we're showing our community. We brought in photographers for all of our CEO Retreats that our clients were attending so that all of our pictures could be of actual clients. We rewrote the copy on the whole website. It's a whole fresh updated website. We really dug into who the right people are. What do we need these people to know? What are the things that stand out to our clients with how we work? What are the things that they love the most? What are the things I say they needed the most?

We are continuously tweaking our copy and continuously tweaking our messaging. We looked at do we need to upgrade any of the offers head to toe in order to align with this brand? We're going through the same process with the Racheal Cook site. I decided it was time to streamline that as we're ramping up The CEO Collective site. It's a more robust site now. The Racheal Cook site is going to become like a two or three page site, very, very simple. It's just basically going to be my professional bio and a creative project that I am working on this summer.

I think this is a great time to review your website if you have a slower season. It's a great time to make it a project. You can do this in a month. You can probably make the tweaks, make some copy edits, get a new photoshoot going, whatever you need to make sure you're presenting the accurate presentation, the accurate representation of your business and your brand.

The final thing I would recommend looking at upgrading this summer is your offers. Summer really has always been the perfect time for me to plan and create new offers. I think this is because when it’s a little slower in the business and we’re not as go-go-go as we are at the beginning of the year or the back to school time, then it’s like you have this little creative pause white space where you can actually think more deeply about creative projects.

This has always been the time when if I’m creating something new or I’m doing a lot of content creation, they’ll often happen during the summer simply because my calendar is less full and I aim to keep it less full.

The very first program I created, I created during the summer of 2011. It was the perfect time for me to create my first intensive program because my husband was a 7th grade English teacher, he was home on his summer break, so he had the kids most of the days, and I was recording slides, creating workbooks, and doing all of this work to create my first program.

There were plenty of times where I could not have done that during our normal day to day. Over the last decade or so, I would say most of the big overhauls that I have are usually when I’m in the summer months. It’s usually just because my calendar is a lot less busy.

While you enjoy your summer break, I want you to be thinking about planning for your business and making the most of the slower summer season. I would love for you to go get the Mid-year Review Workbook. I think that will be incredibly helpful for you to review your year so far and plan for the remainder of the year.

I think now is the great time to ask yourself what systems or tools do I need in place in my business that will make it easier, faster, more efficient for me to run the day to day in my business. I want you to ask yourself, “What is my marketing strategy here? How am I attracting, engaging, nurturing people over the next few months?” Because you don’t want to lose that momentum just to pop up out of the woodwork in August or September and then no one remembers who you are or what you’re about because you disappeared from their radar.

If you need to do a brand update, it doesn’t have to be a full on rebrand, it could just be a little bit of an audit and review, how can you make sure what you’re presenting to the world is an accurate representation of the value that you bring?

Finally, upgrading your offers. Where can you go do some upgrades for your offers? Make sure that they’re priced appropriately, that you’re delivering value. Upgrade any of the content you need to upgrade, upgrade in the internal systems for your customer experience. How can you make sure that you’re setting yourself up for success as we go into the final stretch of 2022?

I hope that helps. I look forward to hearing from you. Please, come connect with me over on Instagram, over on TikTok, and let me know what your big goals are going to be for the second half of the year.