“The dog days of summer” get their name because once upon a time Sirius, the Dog Star, used to rise at the same time as the sun during the hottest days of summer between early July and early September. Sirius no longer rises at the same time as the sun at this time of year (a result of precession, and, if my understanding of the latter is true, then it will be true again in about 25,000 years, give or take a millennium) but the term has stuck to describe this time of year. The ancient Romans and Greeks attributed the heat of these months to the anger of Sirius and they believed that this was a particularly evil time of year. While I would not go so far as to say that this time of year is evil — well, maybe I might — it certainly is a challenging time of year.
Whereas the ancients dealt with drought and potential crop devastation (still a reality for the modern agrarian) we in the small business world deal with another kind of drought — the vacation induced kind. Vacation, no doubt is brought on by another malady that the ancients associated with this time of year: sloth. During the spring and early summer we couldn’t respond fast enough to RFPs but since early July things have been quiet. The pipe was thin. Unfortunately, or fortunately, we are not alone. Colleagues at other shops are saying the same thing — “kinda quiet,” “a bit brutal out there” etc.. Contacts in other industries and professions are also letting us know that things are slow. The new business pipeline is key for many reasons. The obvious reason is it’s nice to be in the hunt for money. Another reason is that when you are pursuing it’s much easier to be confident about the future and keep the energy that you need to get a business off the ground.
All of this said, however, no sooner did July end than prospects started to look up. We live & die by our pipeline and it seems to be filling in again, pretty nicely. All one can ask for is the opportunity to connect. Now that the dog days are on the wane (though today’s weather would suggest otherwise) their attendant sloth seems to be diminishing as well — vacation season is winding down. It’s getting easier to connect and pursue and get in the hunt. Next year, hustling harder through late spring and early summer will help to allay some of this dog day slow down. If it doesn’t, I could always do what the ancients did: sacrifice a brown dog to Sirius, though that could turn into a PR nightmare.