Dollars and Sense: Save your business from summer snags

While the summer months may be the time for many to relax, they can be the most stressful for owners and managers of small- to medium-sized businesses.

These tips can help you and your entrepreneurial investment successfully survive the summer.

-Anticipate summer demand for products or services. Seasonal trends

occur annually and should be included in plans and sales forecasts.

-Monitor stock levels closely. While overstocking depletes cash flow and may prove difficult to shift, too little inventory could cost you sales and

result in the loss of valued customers.

-Keep cash flowing. If needed, explore alternative funding methods, such as freeing cash tied up in unpaid invoices. This ensures you have a flexible supply of working capital during peak sales season.

-Practice paper proficiency. Send statements quickly, and maintain clear records. Even when busy, this keeps day-to-day business in order and, if you go away, staff can pick up where you left off.

-Love loyalty. New customers are exciting, but don&8217;t put novelty before long-standing relationships. Even at times of high seasonal demand, make sure regular customers are happy.

-Always under-promise and over-deliver. Taking on contracts you can&8217;t fulfill, particularly in the summer when you have a skeleton staff, will damage your reputation and endanger your business.

-Seek seasonal help. Employees will want to take time off during the summer. Consider taking on temporary staff to fill gaps and ensure customer service and production is uninterrupted as much as possible.

-Plan absences wisely. Be realistic about when you can take a holiday. If seasonal variations affect your business, take your break when you anticipate a lull in demand.

-Delegate responsibility. When on vacation, empower a trusted member of staff to make decisions in your absence, check e-mails and voicemails and open the post. This keeps business running smoothly and saves you from a pile of catch-up work when you return.

-Fully commit to vacations. Leave work worries&8212;and your laptop&8212;at home to give yourself a chance to truly relax and recharge