The world around us is a place of seasons and cycles. Spring, summer, fall and winter come with reassuring regularity. The moon moves through its phases month after month. Tides rise and fall with predictability. We plan our lives according to the seasons and cycles around us.
Business also has cycles. Every industry has its own variation of a sales cycle or a product lifecycle. Some businesses, such as those in the travel and tourism industry, may be very attuned to the physical seasons. Ski in the winter, go to the beach in the summer. Or, a business may be governed by more arbitrary cycles. Accountants are busy before April 15. Retailers gear up for back-to-school and the holiday rush. Other companies are driven by budget cycles or annual proposals.
Business owners are not immune to seasons and cycles. Think about the past year. Were there predictable periods when you knew you would be overworked or stressed out? How about periods where you could anticipate a chance to get caught up or catch your breath? Now think about how the seasons and cycles may affect your decision making and your accessibility as a manager, or your vision as an entrepreneur. During the crazy season, you may be moving as fast as you can, but are stress and fatigue hurting your mood, temper or decision-making ability? Are you as good a boss during the peak times as you are during the less crazed periods where you have more time to listen and the opportunity to deliberate on an answer? Does your stress radiate throughout the organization, hindering everyone else’s productivity and dampening the office mood?
When you stop to notice how business cycles and seasonal demand affect us as entrepreneurs, we see that we may have our own personal “hurricane season” with moody tempests or a “La Nina” firestorm due to frayed nerves and an over-extended calendar.
Once you understand and recognize your own personal seasons and cycles, you can start to take measures to keep storm season from becoming a disaster. Don’t be afraid to delegate more in order to give yourself breathing room. Get temporary help or interns. Make time even in the busiest seasons to take care of yourself with healthy food, enough sleep, exercise, and short relaxation breaks. Making a conscious effort to manage your storm season can have a huge positive impact, not just on your personal wellbeing, but on the mood and productivity of everyone who depends on you.