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Deb Neuman Deb Neuman
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Waking up in Bar Harbor

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This is the time of year when I get itchy to be back in business for myself - when I remember those days of owning businesses in Bar Harbor and the anticipation and excitement of what the coming season would bring. Even though I don't own a business there anymore, I have friends who do. So this past weekend I ventured there to share in some of their excitement as the town comes back to life.

Walking the streets, I witnessed the preparation and anticipation of the coming season. Fences were being painted, furniture was being placed on restaurant decks, storefronts were being swept up, inventory was being hung up and OPEN signs were beginning to show up in more places.

I spoke to several business owners about their prediction for the coming season, and what I heard was very positive. They said that hotels and inns are reporting busy bookings way ahead of last year at this time. This confirmed what the Maine Office of Tourism told me: Inquiries to their website and requests for information were up 40 percent compared to this time last year. This is great news!

If you own a summer seasonal business, you should feel optimistic about things to come. Now is the time to prepare to make the most of it. Here are a few things you should take care of before the onslaught of business.

Make sure

You set your business and financial goals - What do you want to accomplish this season? Is everything in place to meet your goals?

Your marketing strategy is ready to roll - Is your website updated? Is your social media presence in place? Are your rack brochures ready to hit the hotel lobbies?

You have the right people on your team - Hire 'right' early in the season to save you headaches later on! Be sure your team is well-trained in providing exceptional customer service to insure repeat business this season and next.

You plan time for YOU (in advance) - Schedule time off for yourself, even if it's just a few hours a week. You will need a break to survive the rigors of the season!

You have back-ups to cover for you - You are only human you may become ill or need to need to take extended time off. Be sure your business can run without you!

Finally, it's important to remain positive and nimble and adapt as needed. I know from experience that the season will be full of unexpected surprises (hopefully good ones). That is part of the fun of being in business for yourself. Here's to a great (and profitable) 2012 summer in Maine!

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