9 Things to do when business is slow
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There's going to come a time in your business when it’s slow.
Maybe your business has some seasonal ups and downs (like summer or Christmas). Maybe you stopped your marketing efforts back when you were booked up. Maybe you've changed what you offer. Maybe it's not one thing that caused it, maybe it's a bunch of little reasons.
No matter what the reason, everyone has slow periods.
It's what you do during that time that will make the difference between you and another business like yours.
In my first year of business I had a few times where I was overbooked and didn't think to put up a waitlist, so I just took on anything that came my way. Then once that busy period was done and those jobs were over, it got quiet. Like crickets chirping, cobwebs gathering in my inbox, quiet.
At first I sat there wheels spinning trying to think of why it was quiet, where'd all my leads go, thoughts going a million miles an hour. It was that way for a couple weeks and during that time I had to force myself to take it as a chance to do all of the things I was normally "too busy" to get around to doing. I was determined to make the most out of that quiet time because I knew that at some point I'd look back and wish for that quiet period again to get that list done.
Below are 9 things I did (or recommend doing) when things get slow in business.
Revisit your services
Review your to-do list
Update your website
Make a social media game plan
Learn to become a better writer
Review your marketing game plan
Update your CRM
Start a non-business project
01 | Rest
This one is number one for a reason. If you've just come off a busy period where you may have neglected your sleep, self-care, family, or friends. then you need rest — however that looks for you. For some, rest looks like sleeping in or naps, sitting down and watching Netflix for an hour or two during the day, taking a whole day or week off from working on anything at all, cleaning the house, or hanging out at the pool for a couple hours.
Whatever rest looks like for you, this needs to be the first thing you do after a busy season. Your body and your business will thank you when you are recharged and ready to tackle everything else on this list.
Allow yourself to enjoy it! Kind of like when it snows, I take that as the universe giving me permission to rest and relax and take it easy, take a slow time as an opportunity to take a break. Get out in the world, find things that delight you. Enjoy the space and let it reignite your creative juices and passion. - Joanna Platt, Joanna Platt Coaching
02 | Revisit your services
Every quarter I take time to look at my services and see if I need to increase my rates, update any of the deliverables, scrap a service, or create a new one. If you're in a slow period, this is one of the first things that you should do, especially if it's been a while since you looked at what you're offering.
Look at your last 5 clients. What service did they purchase? Did they request any changes to the scope of work or grab any of your add-ons? Was there anything during the job that you wished you'd added to the scope? Did you or your client have any issues with the timeline or the process?
Once you've done this little audit, you may want to reach back out to those past clients and ask them a little bit more about why they purchased that specific service, was there anything they wished you'd offered? Then, depending on if you have trusted business friends, ask them to look at your services (if they're your target audience) and have them give you feedback on what you're offering. Do they see something missing or have something they'd love to see in your offerings? Maybe it's switching up your payment plan, or changing from hourly rates to packages or a retainer. You never know if you don't take time to do a deep review!
03 | Review projects or tasks that are on your to-do list
One of the many things that gets pushed aside in our business during busy times (and to be honest, in general), are projects that you've had on your to-do list. Personally I have a couple different lists in Asana with the different projects, courses, and tasks I want to do.
Take a few minutes to look at your list—or if you don't have one or have them in multiple places, take a few minutes to put them all in one place, and organize them by priority. I found that I liked to see things organized by type of project and priority so that I could find high priority things that wouldn't take long, so that I could knock out more of them at once.
I have a list in Asana that is an ongoing project of things that need to be fixed or need attention but are not crucial! Whenever time allows, the list gets tackled 😁 — Lucy Dunne, Dunne Bells
04 | Update your website
Another thing that tends to fall through the cracks is updating your website. Often my clients come to me, and it's been over 3 months since they’ve even looked at their website. I'm not talking about writing or publishing a blog post, I'm talking about a serious walkthrough of your website, services, about page, and contact page.
Take some time and walk-through your website page by page, starting with your homepage. Review the copy, layout, images, calls to action, and journey that your ideal client would take. Get rid of anything that isn't relevant, update anything that is outdated, and maybe swap out a couple of images. Remember to check a couple of other things you'll want to update that you may have forgotten about. If you're not sure where people are going on your site, check out Hotjar, you'll be able to setup heat maps and screen recordings of site visitors to see how your visitors are using your site.
05 | Make a social media game plan
One of the biggest struggles my clients face is being consistent on social media. They love being able to share on Instagram and Facebook, but they struggle with having a consistent presence there.
If you're someone who struggles with what to write about, I've got two tips for you. The first is to determine what your content themes are. If you're not sure what they are, check out my post on defining your 3 content themes. Another thing you can do is save posts on Instagram to collections. One thing that I'm always doing when I'm on Instagram is saving posts to my account when a caption or image inspires me. I've started collections for caption inspirations and things to reshare, when I need inspiration for what to write about or images/graphics to use, I go back to these saved posts.
Another thing that I do is I use Later to schedule all of my posts. I used to use Planoly, but after a friend of mine told me I could schedule posts for Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest all on the same screen, I was hooked. If you're looking for a social media scheduler, take a look at later, and if you use this link to signup, and schedule at least one post on Instagram using Later you get 10 more posts per month free!
Revisit all my social funnels and schedule social media 👏🏼 — Ingrid, Atelier21 Co
06 | Learn to become a better writer
Think about all the things you need to write for your business. Imagine you sat your butt in your chair for 3 focused hours to get some writing done - content, getting ahead on your blog or podcast, creating a new freebie or sales page, email onboarding, batching a bunch of newsletters or social posts. I’m a member inside a writing community called Write Like a MOFO and I get to invite business owners to try out a free 3-hour writing marathon. Learn more here, and if you want to give one a try, shoot me an email and I'll let you know when the next marathon is!
07 | Review your marketing
One thing that helped me when I was trying to figure out how to best to market my business was to find out what the best marketing strategy for me was based on my Myers-Briggs test. Brit, over at Marketing Personalities, has taken all of the personality types from Myers-Briggs and laid out what the best marketing strategy is based on what your type is. After I retook the Myers-Briggs test (it'd been a while since I'd taken it), I went and found out from Brit what recommended I do based on my type, I've been focusing on that strategy for the last quarter. It's given me more clarity and allowed me to focus on my strengths as an ISTJ so I can get the most out of my marketing efforts.
I love getting creative! Coming up with new marketing ideas, planning trainings and education, doing a little PR. I love when I get a chance to actually sit down and work on my business instead of just in it. — Brittany McBean, Brittany McBean Social
08 | Update your CRM
From forms to contracts to lead captures to workflows and canned emails, there's always something to tweak
So one thing that I'm always doing is looking at how my CRM is doing. I like to review everything that's in Dubsado (my CRM) at least once per quarter, but more often when possible.
Even though your workflow is all set up, you have your forms ready, contracts are rock-solid, you can always make tweaks to make it better. Maybe it's your canned emails that need a little love, or you want to add a new fun question to your lead capture like, "what's your favorite way to stay caffeinated?"
P.S. If you haven’t setup your Dubsado account yet or need a little refresh, check out my services and see how I can help you get it in tip-top shape.
For me it’s always checking on my own marketing, design, CMS processes and making sure everything is still working as it should! Meaning that it’s actually doing what it’s supposed to. Also cleaning up my computer files is ALWAYS a must-do and takes way longer than I plan so that’s a must as well!! 🙈 — Amanda, Manda Julaine Designs
Create systems and organize 👍🏼 — Stephanie, Biz Babe Collective
09 | Start a non-business project
As a business owner, often we don't take time to keep hobbies outside of our business. Having a hobby that’s unrelated to your business can help you de-stress, boost creativity, and happiness. When things are slow I I believe it's okay to work on things outside of my business, like gardening, SUP (stand-up paddle boarding), and knitting.
Wrapping it up
Whew. There are a lot of tips here, and I hope the next time you find yourself trying to figure out what to do, that you remember one (or more) of these tips!
Let me know in the comments what you do when things get slow in your business — or what you wish you did when it was slow.
If you missed it, here’s some more posts to check out: