It’s the first day of the fourth quarter. For many businesses, particularly in professional services, that means it’s time to face the reality that has emerged since The Great Recession. You work in a seasonal business and now is crunch time.
We do too. When I tell fellow business people I know that the roughly 100 days between the day after Labor Day and the week or so after Thanksgiving is when more business gets done than any single time during the year, they’re surprised. But then I ask them to take a look at their own operations.
Now, everybody’s lean. That means when just one individual from a team is out of the office there’s some sort of slowdown. It’s next to impossible to get any significant work done during the summer months. Chances are you’ve heard this before, “Well, I’m on vacation next week. Then, Mary’s on vacation the week after. Oh? You’re out the week after that? OK. It will have to wait a month.” And in that month, projects are at a standstill. Anticipating those situations, companies will punt work left and right. “We’ll look at it in the Fall” is a common refrain.
And December? Forget it. With more companies going to an annual “use it or lose it” vacation policy, you get about a week after Thanksgiving to get anything accomplished. It used to be December was reserved for planning for the coming year. Now, “We’ll get to it after the first of the year” is the phrase you hear most.
This is all just the way it is. There’s no need for complaining. It’s just time for many of us to fasten our seat belts. Now is the time for all of the stuff that could have been done all year to take place, along with, seemingly, all of the events. This is the “new normal.”