We endure the winters just to get to those long, lazy summer days. In the summer, we look forward to vacations, leaving work early on Fridays and here in Iowa, the Iowa State Fair. We don’t schedule too many meetings, conferences or deliverables because, after all, it’s summer.

It seems like most businesses naturally experience two lulls a year. The first is summer, and the second is from Dec. 20 or so until mid-January. The problem with those lulls is that it takes a while to propel ourselves back into action. It’s like that Celebrex ad that says, “It’s simple physics: A body at rest stays at rest, while body in motion stays in motion.”

You can’t afford for your business to stay at rest as we approach the fourth quarter. It’s now or never in terms of your year-end results. So you have one month to begin getting yourself in motion. Here are some ideas on how you can get yourself ready for the final push of 2013.

Review your marketing goals: Was there something that you were gung-ho on earlier this year? Did you want to start an e-newsletter? Pick the one thing you felt would really contribute and take one step toward getting it done. Your goal is to have it ready to launch by the Tuesday after Labor Day. Not sure what to do?
1. What audience are you under-communicating with?
2. How can you amplify something you’re already doing?
Survey your customers: Now’s a great time to search for that needle in the haystack. If you make the effort to ask for their opinion, your current and past customers will tell you how you can get even better. If you really want to dig deeper, let a third party do the surveying. Be brave enough to ask questions like:
1. If they could wave a magic wand, what would they change about your business?
2. What would they be willing to pay a premium for you to offer?

Set a short-term goal: Look over the year’s performance so far. What would be a good stretch goal for you to shoot for to accomplish before Dec. 31? Rather than splitting your focus, narrow in on the one goal and resolve to knock it down before the end of the year.  
1. What’s the one thing you could accomplish that would really set you up for 2014?
2. Is there a goal tied to your best customers? Why not make sure they want to stay?

Stop doing something: Odds are you are doing at least one thing because it’s something you’ve always done, you think you must do it but have never tested that assumption or it’s such a habit you hardly know you’re doing it. One of the ways you can find more bandwidth to do some of the things listed above is by taking something off your To Do list. Wondering what doesn’t need to be done?
1. Do all of your efforts include some sort of measurable metric? If so, check the numbers. If not, add one.
2. Is there something you procrastinate doing every time? Maybe your subconscious is trying to tell you something.
I know you don’t want the summer to end. But you and I both know that the Iowa State Fair signals the beginning of the end. It’s the fair, and then the kids go back to school, and before you know it, you’re waving Labor Day goodbye. Don’t get caught off guard. Set yourself up for a strong fourth quarter by starting now.