How to make the most of quiet periods

No matter how successful your business is you're most likely going to have periods when the work dries up. If your business is going so well that a few weeks without having to do anything comes as a relief, then you can go back to the sun lounger and enjoy the break.

For the rest of us, here are a few tips that can make those periods a bit easier to bear, and hopefully inspire you to turn them into positives.

Don't panic

These periods are part and parcel of working for yourself and you need to find a way to cope with them or you'll soon be pretty frazzled. Try to focus on the fact that the quietness will pass and do all you can to make that happen even faster.

Catch up

Quiet periods are a great way to clear your admin and get your financial records in tip-top shape if it's something you tend to neglect because of time.

When the money's rolling in, we're all liable to let the odd invoice go unpaid a little longer than is advisable but when work's scarce, you simply can't do this. Check out which customers owe you money and chase them up.

Take control of your business

Once you've done everything you can with regards to cashflow, you should then start looking seriously at your operation and what you can do to improve it.

In a quiet period, the worst moments are when we feel powerless. By channeling your anxiety into creative thinking, you're laying the foundations for new opportunities. You could consider:

  • Getting in touch with regular customers with offers or pitches
  • Looking at the design of your website or the wording of your email newsletter
  • Starting a blog
  • Writing an ebook
  • Updating your marketing plan
  • Researching new outlets
  • Attending networking events you don't usually have time for
  • Re-organising your office
  • Brushing up your skills

Learn from the situation

Try to think about why the situation has happened. Sometimes it's out of your hands but often one of the problems is only focusing on marketing when times are quiet.

Try to build ongoing marketing into your schedule to prevent dry spells. If it's a seasonal issue, start to think ahead about how you can get through these natural fluctuations - this may involve diversifying your business or adding a new income stream altogether.

You may also want to consider ways to manage your cashflow better so that a quiet period isn't so financially terrifying.

You may want to consider:

  • Getting systems in place so you always invoice on time and chase late payers immediately
  • Putting an emergency fund aside to tide you over when things are less busy
  • If you're in retail, thinking about stock management techniques so you're not left with too much stock when business drops off

Let go

There are just some days when the last thing you want to do is work for what can seem like very little reward. If you feel like this, take a break and don't beat yourself up about it. Tidy the house, make that meal you've meaning to for ages, meet a friend for coffee - you'll come back clear-headed and ready to go again.

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