Hit a quiet period in your business? Here’s how to embrace it
Are you worried that business has dried up and you desperately need to get more work in the door – right now? Perhaps it is worth appreciating this quiet time as a gift and using it productively as a way to grow both professionally and personally.
Running a solo business can be a bit of a roller coaster ride. One minute you are up to your eyeballs in work, wondering how you are going to get it all done AND sleep, and the next you are scrambling around for clients, worrying how you will pay the bills. It’s enough to seriously consider rejoining the workforce (OK, only joking)!
For myself, this is one of the few stresses I have in my business. After all, working for myself is great. I enjoy the freedom and flexibility of running my own show, have fantastic clients and colleagues, and do a variety of work that I really enjoy. But it does come with seasonal (and not so seasonal) ups and downs. After ten years in biz, over half of them as a freelance designer and marketing consultant, I have finally learned that quiet times are an inevitable part of my business, and can in fact be just what I need to keep inspired and motivated – in business and in life!
So instead of hitting the panic button, here are a few ways you can put those quiet times to good use, knowing they will most likely be short lived.
Avoid appearing desperate
One of the first things that many business owners do when they hit a quiet period is launch into the heavy sales pitch. Nothing is more off-putting than being hounded by a business owner who seems too keen – for a start, customers want to work with people who are great at what they do, and sounding desperate might inadvertently send the wrong message. While there’s nothing wrong with reaching out to your tribe with a special offer or doing some extra promotion to nudge things along, try to do so in a way that is consistent with your overall brand voice and your usual marketing activities.
Develop good habits
You know how you have always wanted more time to write a regular blog, schedule your social media in advance, go for a walk every morning or take up meditation? Now is the time to start! By introducing one or two new behaviours while you are quiet, you’ll get a headstart on creating a new habit that will add to the wellbeing of your business and other areas of life. Consistency is key though, so don’t get too carried away and take on too much, or you’ll find it hard to keep up when things get busy again.
Our businesses should be constantly evolving, or otherwise we will stagnate and lose relevance in our ever-changing world. Use your quiet times to better understand your ideal customers and their changing needs, and think about how you can better solve their problems. Take a little time out to dream, play and explore those crazy ideas that you’ve had on the backburner for a while! Follow your curiosity, and expand your knowledge and experience in areas that closely align with your dreams and passions. You may just stumble upon the perfect idea to take your business to the next level. And besides, it will be fun!
While things might not be as rosy as you’d like right now, there are probably many, many things you can be grateful for. Revisit your WHY and be grateful for how your business helps you live your purpose every day. Think about your customers and reflect on how you’ve helped them. Be grateful that they have invested their time, money and energy to work with you. Take a look around you… chances are you have a nice home, plenty to eat, adequate transportation and relationships that are deeply meaningful to you. You are fortunate to live in a society overflowing with abundance – and much of it is already yours. A little positivity goes a long way, and soon you’ll find that positive energy flowing back to you.
Create a financial buffer
Having a financial buffer is important to help fund you through these inevitable quiet times – not to mention allowing you to take annual and sick leave when you need them. Admittedly, this is more of a preventative tactic than a short-term cure, but it’s worth organising now so that it is up and running as soon as business picks up again. Set up a separate bank account (check with your accountant about whether a business or a personal account is best for your situation) and automate regular payments to go into it during the year, so you eventually have sufficient funds to cover two to three months’ worth of expenses. Keep in mind that this is not your personal savings account – so no dipping in for holidays, home renovations or to take advantage of that fabulous sale! It’s not even for business purchases. It’s there purely so that you can enjoy and fully appreciate the quiet times when they come, knowing that you are financially OK.
Remember, quiet times are important for soloists – they give you the “white space” you need to slow down and reflect, be creative, and grow personally as well as professionally. After all, if you’re anything like me, you are in business for flexibility, fulfilment and the sheer joy of it, not just for the income.
Enjoy your down-time!