Does the thought of business slowing down keep you up at night? While the busy season is full of hustle and late nights, you prefer that over not knowing how you’re going to make ends meet or when your next client will come in. I’ve been there and over the years have tried to look at these downtimes a little bit differently. By embracing the slow seasons and looking at them instead as an opportunity we can smooth out the ups and downs that come with entrepreneurship a little bit. Let’s look at a few things we can do when business is slow that we aren’t able to do when we’re in the thick of things, so we can really make some major moves in our businesses.
Set Yourself Up for More Output (and Less Overwhelm!)
When we’re at our busiest, we often have to just do the next thing and aren’t able to critically look at if how we are getting work done is really the most efficient. I challenge you to relook at your systems and workflows with a critical eye and ask yourself a few questions: Are there areas that are redundant that you could automate or streamline? Are there places that would be better outsourced so that you have more time for the money-making and visionary activities your business needs? Are there things that you maybe don’t even need to be doing at all because the benefit does not outweigh the time it takes to complete?
Look for repetitive steps you are doing over, and over again. Maybe you spend a ton of time invoicing clients individually and a client management system that up-levels and automates this process would be a major upgrade for you (here’s my favorite one to check out). Maybe it’s time to (finally) write those canned responses for questions you are constantly answering on an individual basis (grab my 5 emails to get you started here). The truth is, even if a task takes just 30 seconds or even a minute, it adds up so quickly and these little disruptions in our work can drain us and take away from what we should actually be doing in our businesses.
Take a Step Back
Rest. Bet you didn’t think this was going to be on this list! Take it from someone who prioritizes a month sabbatical each year into my schedule, that this can be life changing for your business. I hit the pause button of the day to day grind of my business and truly unplugged, and you know what happened? Some of my best, most profitable, life-changing ideas came to me because I was able to step away from the to-do list and start to dream bigger. Not only that, but I returned to work rejuvenated and excited to get back to it. If we grind and stress our entire slow season, we’re not going to be our best selves entering a busy season.
Maybe an entire month sounds crazy and you think your business can’t run without you. If this is the case, I’d suggest going back to my first suggestion in this post and look for ways you can take yourself out of the equation in the day to day runnings of your business. Start with just a week of TRULY unplugging (like I had my assistant change my email password so I would not be tempted to check in!), there is so much life beyond the work we do and as entrepreneurs, our business can be all consuming because we love what we do. But why work for ourselves if we’re not able to also prioritize rest and step away?
Invest in Y-O-U
Do you currently have the skills and knowledge to take yourself and your business to where you dream it will be? If the answer is no, you should be investing in gaining those things now. If we’re not taking the time to do this, in five years, we’ll be in the exact same place. Do you dream of speaking on stages but aren’t confident in front of a group? Take a public speaking course. Maybe you want to impact the masses with your message but aren’t savvy with social media. Take a course and commit to learning about it. We’re not stuck with who we are today and investing in your skills and knowledge in the areas that will propel our dreams is always a smart move.
These may seem like simple tips, but in business, often the foundational things are what will allow you to move the needle and make a major difference. I think far too often, people think they need to make big sweeping moves or that there’s a secret to entrepreneurial success, but the truth is, it’s more about the little steps and day to day decisions that make a difference. I’ve shared on the podcast about some additional tactical things you can do to help grow and market your business in the offseason, tune in here to continue this conversation!