There is no getting around that all business, no matter products or service, is cyclical in nature with both busy and down periods. Busy periods take care of themselves and you will likely be juggling many balls in the air. Slow periods are trying as you watch profits fall due to non-productivity.
However, slow periods can be a great time to reposition your company for growth during the next boom cycle. Below are 8 useful tasks that will help your business take maximum advantage of the next uptick.
1. Expand your products and services.
Perhaps it seems contradictory since during slow times you are likely thinking to cut corners. However, you want to consider how you can add products or services that will complement your current line. This is hard when cash flow is down, if you can support it consider different unsecured business credit lines to enable you to expand and diversify your products and services. Diversity is the best strategy since it allows you to grow multiple streams of income so that when one part of the business experiences a downturn you can stay afloat through the other revenue streams.
2. Work to improve customer service.
You already know that stellar customer service is the foundation of business success, and this is never truer than during periods of business downturn. When business is slow you need to go above the call of duty to show your customers that they are important to you. For example, you may want to offer a special discount on products or services or send thank you letters for their patronage. When a problem arises, act quickly to resolve it to the client’s satisfaction.
3. Ramp up your marketing.
When times are slow, marketing seems to be the function that gets the axe most often. This is a big mistake! It is precisely during times of relative inactivity that you need to focus more effort on marketing your business to new customers. You can do this by expanding your offerings, penetrating new marketing outlets, such as social media channels or updating your web site. Marketing is not selling but promoting the benefits of your firm to prospective customers. Marketing is no less that an investment in the future growth of your company.
4. Diversify your tasks.
During a slow business you have time for projects put off. Perhaps you were thinking to write an eBook or start a blog. Both can be great ways to promote your company while also earning additional revenue. Another idea is to teach a course on a topic related to your business at an adult learning program. Each of these ideas will position you as a thought leader within your industry and help your business gain a strong reputation within its target market.
5. Build your skills.
If you are planning to add revenue streams, you may need to take courses to build your skills in that area. For example, if you are a graphic designer you might want to take a course in copywriting. This will help you build a one-stop model of service by offering both writing and design services. You can take courses relevant to your business via traditional classroom training or online. You also want to keep current with all industry changes by subscribing to relevant magazines, reading books, and attending seminars.
6. Go on a shopping trip.
This does mean buying personal items (although you may wish to include that in your trip) but items for your business. As you know, technology changes almost daily so perhaps you could use a new laptop or smartphone. Perhaps your office chair is not ergonomically efficient or you need a larger desk. Whatever purchase you have in mind, slow periods are a great time to research the products on the market to get the best value for your money. You may also want to read various business credit card reviews to see if you can perhaps get a good deal and make your purchases using the new card.
7. Get organized.
Slow periods are a great time to get your office organized and eliminate clutter. Roll-up our sleeves and dig in to remove all extraneous paperwork, clear out the in/out boxes, rearrange desks, and put files in order. Better yet, create a database that will make files obsolete and free up a large amount of office space.
8. Maintain a positive attitude.
While this may not at first glance appear to be a task, in actuality keeping a positive attitude is perhaps the hardest thing to do when times get slow. You are on edge with no income and bills are coming in. Yet, you cannot wallow in a defeatist attitude as that will slow you down even further since neither clients or prospects wish to work with business owners who are pessimists.
During difficult times, keep in mind the title of the popular book by Robert Schuller, Tough Times Don’t Last But Tough People Do. Every misfortune carries the seeds of growth and betterment if you can keep perspective. To help keep a positive attitude, socialize with friends and engage in activities you enjoy on a regular basis. This will help lighten your outlook and come back to the office with a fresh perspective.
Got more tips on how to keep going when business is slow? Share with us in the comments!
Photo by Ambro.
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