Getting Ahead When Business Is Slow
In business there are victories and losses, ups and downs, but today I’m not going to be talking about those. Instead, I want to look at the ebbs and flows of the business cycle.
When your business suffers a big loss, you can’t ignore it, but when those slow cycles come around, it can be easy to get complacent, sit back and wait for things to pick up again.
Perhaps your business is seasonal or maybe things tend to slow down during holiday breaks. You could just wait it out, and it probably wouldn’t be the end of the world, but what might happen if you leaned in and made use of those quiet times instead?
Could you come up with a new product or service or could you optimize how you’re doing things? Perhaps you could invest in some training to get new skills or come up with new ideas to capitalise on the next busy period?
In entrepreneurship - as probably with most things in life - the greatest gift is time. Time to pause, time to reflect, time to strategise, re-energise and find new focus.
Here’s how you could make the most of this time:
Start with Reflection
When you notice your business is slowing down, pause and assess. Is this just a natural downshift or has something gone wrong? If you’ve identified this slowdown as part of your natural business cycle (this might be difficult to determine in your first year of business), enjoy being able to take that moment to slow down.
The fact that you’ve been busy enough to notice things calming down is probably a good sign and you’re due for a pat on the back! So treat yourself to a little reward for all your hard work. Enjoy some quality time with loved ones, splurge a little on a gift to yourself, a special meal or pampering treat or just a day to do nothing at all.
Once you’ve given yourself a chance to enjoy your more relaxed schedule, it’s time to make use of that new-found head space and to review what you and your business have accomplished so far for this year.
If you read my article on goal setting at the beginning of the year and tried to get into this habit yourself, pull out your list of goals for 2019 and check in with yourself on your progress. If you don’t have a list yet, it’s never too late to start!
Review your goals. Are they all still relevant? Have some of them evolved? What can you already cross off? What do you want to add? Do you need to refocus on certain goals that haven’t yet been met?
Update your list. I like to do this on my phone under Reminders. This is quite handy so you can also set yourself a little reminder for when you want to check in on them again.
Make a Game Plan
Once you’re clear on your goals, make a six month plan to achieve them, step-by-step.
Let’s say your goal is to increase revenue this year by 20%. With the time you have now, you might consider several options. For example, you could:
Explore new target groups
Explore new markets
Ramp up production for when business picks up
Develop new products or services
Grow your sales team
Improve your marketing
Develop more cost-effective processes
Before landing on your strategy, do your research to determine whether your plan is feasible, or if a different approach could be more effective.
For instance, before you enter a new market, your research could show that regulations, taxes and costs of doing business in that new country might not be as economically promising as it seems.
Once you’ve settled on a way forward, start working backward to figure out what you need to do to get from A to B. Do you need to update your website? Should you run a campaign to test a new target audience? Do you need to hire a contractor or consultant to help you get things off the ground?
Experimenting with such new opportunities could even hold the key to identifying how you can overcome the cyclical nature of your business!
On The Other Hand…
If all this sounds overwhelming right now and what you really need is just a break, that’s okay. Take that break!
By giving yourself – and your team – a chance to recharge when things are slow, you’ll be better prepared to take on bigger challenges in the future.
Take a trip somewhere and get a change of scenery. Continue to work a bit remotely or take off completely. Or if you’re staying put, plan in some nice activities for yourself and your team. This is a great time for team building activities and outings to reward yourself and your employees for their hard work during the busy season.
Whatever you decide, do what’s right for you! Remember, this is one of the luxuries of being an entrepreneur!