10 ways to work through a business slowdown
By Dr. Rachna D. Jain
In running any kind of business, it's inevitable that sometimes
business will slow down. This might occur due to an upcoming
holiday, seasonal variations, or uncontrollable circumstances.
As a small-business owner, you have a choice in terms of how you
view the slowdown - it can either be a time of increased stress,
frustration, worry - or you can view it as an opportunity to
upgrade your business processes or improve the quality of your
Here are ten strategies you can use to work through a business
1) Market more concertedly. Statistics suggest that new
businesses spend (or should spend) about 40-60% of time in
marketing and related activities. If you are experiencing a
business slowdown, it's always a good time to create and launch
another marketing initiative. It is important to continue to
promote your business creatively and cost-effectively. What
better way to spend a slow period than in taking actions to
attract new business? (Plus, taking action will keep worry or
stress from overwhelming you.)
2) Relax. This strategy works if you are feeling good about your
business and your accomplishments. Use this time to catch up on
some sleep, read a few good books, in short, take some time off
for rest and relaxation. Sometimes, time away can help spark
creative ideas or profitable insights.
3) Get ahead. Use slow time to get ahead on weekly or monthly
projects. Look ahead to future months and see if there are any
steps you can take, today, that would position you more solidly
in the future. This can help you feel more in control as the
pace picks up again.
4) Invest in additional training/learning. A business slowdown
is a great time to upgrade your knowledge and skills, you have
the time and the incentive. Take classes, learn more about your
industry, become even more valuable to your customers by adding
new products or services based on your new knowledge.
5) Follow up with old/existing customers. Most small businesses
focus more on getting new customers rather than retaining old
ones. A business slow down is a great time to get back in touch
with your customer base to find out what needs they have, to
remind them of your service, or to offer them special discounts
for reactivating their accounts. It's always easier to sell to
someone who has bought from you before - so make the extra
effort to stay in touch.
6) Offer free samples or giveaways. If your business needs to
attract new prospects, use the "slow time" to offer free samples,
hold contests, or offer giveaways to bring new energy and
potential customers to your door.
7) Plan. Take time to review your progress so far, checking it
against your goals, and making any necessary adjustments. Use
"slow time" to plan for how you'll tackle new projects, or
expand your business or offerings. This can be really fun.
8) Relate. Use this time to add a little extra to the "bank
account" of your important relationships. Spend more time with
your spouse, significant other, child, or friends. Put some
extra kindnesses into your close relationships - you'll have more
to "withdraw" when you need it.
9) Network/socialize. Use "slow time" to get out and meet more
people to talk about what you offer, learn what they need, help
them connect with appropriate resources. Take this time to
increase your contact base, and to attend meetings or events you
might not usually have time for. An added bonus to this tip is
that you might perceive new trends in your industry which can
help you guide your business.
10) Upgrade equipment or processes. During a business "slow
down", it's a great time to find easier, more efficient, and
better ways of running your business. You might upgrade equipment
so you can serve customers more effectively. You might automate
parts of your sales process, or invest in additional training
for your staff. You might use this time to make sure you are in
compliance with all the relevant state laws, or to paint your
While occasional business slowdowns might be inevitable, these
strategies ensure that you're making the best use of the
downtime - allowing you to attract and keep your ideal customers.
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