Do you have the February blues? The warm glow of Christmas is far behind us, and the green shoots of spring are still weeks away. Winter drags on, the cold winds blow, and we struggle to get enough sleep.
It can be a slow time for businesses, too, as consumers tighten their spending and clients hold off on paying invoices.
So what can you do to make slow periods profitable? You can use the time to work on your business and yourself. You can get better at what you do, so when the good times return, you’re prepared and ready to roll. Profit isn’t only about money, y’all.
1. Take Time to Rest
When you’ve been operating on “all systems go go go!” for as long as you can remember, slow times can come as an emotional shock. You feel like you should be doing something. Isn’t it wrong to sit around doing not much at all?
The truth is that taking regular breaks makes you better at your job. Research shows that even those who give into the temptation to goof off on the internet get more done.
Why not use the downtime to reintegrate breaks into your working day, or even take a vacation? You’ll return to work refreshed and invigorated and bursting with new ideas to improve your business.
2. Tighten up Your Systems
Know why you have so much work on your plate when business gets busy? It’s because you’ve not set up systems to take care of the extra workload. With the right systems in place, you could leave your business to run on auto-pilot, giving you more time to do what matters to you all year-round.
You can create systems for all kinds of things, including:
- Taking and processing customer orders.
- Managing relationships with your customers.
- Deciding the best ways to promote your products.
- Curating and posting social media updates.
Better systems will improve your productivity and give you time to focus on making your business the best it can be, rather than getting stuck in the mire of day-to-day operations.
3. Turn on the Creative Tap
Creativity comes from thinking outside the box. Asking unusual, off-the-wall questions can result in interesting discoveries.
Here are some questions we’ve enjoyed asking:
- How is Facebook like Lego?
- Has your marketing strategy been attacked by zombies?
- What can we learn from Ray Charles about who to use social media in a soul-full way?
The extra time you have on your hands gives you the opportunity to burst out of your box and ask creative questions. To really push yourself, why not try something creative you’ve never done before? You might unlock new ideas and ways of being you never knew you had. This could be:
- Going to a creative writing class
- Attending a dance workshop
- Picking up a pen and paper and drawing what’s in front of you
- Singing in a choir
- Wandering the streets of a new city
Speaking of learning…
4. Teach Yourself Something New
No one knows everything. It’s impossible to learn everything there is to know on a topic. Even if you’re an expert in your niche, there’s always more to learn.
With the extra time on your hands, you can invest in yourself. You can learn more about running a business, or you can branch out and try something completely new. Whatever you decide to learn, you’ll benefit from stimulating your mind, and you’ll get ideas for improving your business.
5. Create a (New) Product
Service-based business can especially benefit from taking time to think about how they can turn their service into a product.
When you’re selling services, your profits are always limited by the amount of time you (and your team) can invest in delivering those services. Once your calendar is full, you can’t make any more profit without raising your prices or hiring more staff.
By productizing your service, you reduce your workload, and you remove the profit ceiling. You’re now only limited by what you’re able to sell. What’s not to love about that?
Even if you can’t think of a way to turn your service into a product, you can come up with completely new ideas for products you could sell. That’s what takes you from service provider to inventor and entrepreneur.
6. Check Out What the Competition is Up To
Go on a real or virtual excursion to see what your competitors are doing. You’re snooping for tips on how to make your business even better.
What products are they selling? What are their prices? How do they display their products? What marketing strategies are they using?
Doing a competitor analysis makes sure you’re keeping up with the competition and can give you ideas for improving your own business. On top of that, you’ll learn about what it will take to make your business different from everyone else, so you can stand out from the crowd.
7. Take the Time to Listen to Your Team
Do you ever sit down with your team and ask for their ideas? If you do, you’ll benefit from their unique perspective, and they’ll be grateful for the opportunity to share their insights.
They likely know your business as well as or better than you. Asking for their help and guidance isn’t a sign of weakness. It shows you’re a leader who’s willing to listen.
8. Connect with Old Friends
Sitting at your desk, unsure what to do? Then have a game of Rolodex Roulette. Pick a contact at random from your address book, and drop that person a line. You can call or fire off an email, whichever makes you most comfortable. If you’re in the same city, invite them out for coffee.
Business is all about people, and taking time to nurture your relationships will improve your business.
9. Show Gratitude
Instead of getting pent up and frustrated about slow times, be grateful for what you have. Slow times will come, that’s life. Seeing the good that’s all around you will keep you motivated, even though you’re getting less than ideal outcomes from your work. Keep the faith, and the times of plenty will return.
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