WHAT TO DO DURING SLOW SEASON
So it’s an off year. Or it’s your industry’s slow season. Maybe something is happening in the economy or in the laws that govern your type of business. Whatever the reason, you’re right this moment in-between intense phases of work. It WAS busy, it WILL be busy, but right now…it’s not.
First of all, DON’T PANIC. But also don’t stop moving forward just because business is slow. There are enormously productive things you can do during these weeks or months to make sure you’re ready to go when the next busy cycle is upon you.
1. Look out for number one.
Yes, I mean you. Get your annual physical, see a dentist, find a therapist, finally sleep for crying out loud, maybe eat a vegetable, take a walk, drink some water, call your mom. Do these things. There’s a good chance that those 16 hour days didn’t include many of the above, and sometimes when business isn’t forcing us to take action, we go into sloth mode. Netflix-and-Doritos as an occasional self-care ritual is fine; the same for days on end as you listlessly refresh your inbox every five minutes? Not helpful.
All those coffees and lunches you wanted to have but didn’t make time for? Schedule them during this quiet time. Not only is talking with people good for business connections, it’s also fantastic for your health, and particularly for remote employees or solo-preneurs, scheduling (and going to!) meetings away from your workspace is a great way to pattern-interrupt unproductive habits.
3. Get your shi- I mean, systems, together.
If something feels clunky or inefficient when you’re running at full capacity, take the time now to assess and fill any gaps. Depending on the scope of your business, this could be setting up an auto-responder, researching and implementing a CRM system, figuring out a better way to handle bookkeeping, or how to automate shipping. Go through and make sure your data, your calendar, AND your physical workspace are organized.
While we’re on the subject of systems, take a look at your routines and habits outside of work, and add in support now as needed to see you through the next busy season. What do you need to make sure your household (even if it’s a household of 1 + a fern) is supplied and maintained when you’re busy? Be proactive with your systems inside and outside of work, and reduce the number of interruptions and unnecessary hurdles when you’re back to your sprint season.
4. Staff up
It may feel counterintuitive to talk about hiring when you’re in the middle of a slow cycle at work, but consider the amount of time it takes to find the right person, onboard them, and teach them how to do their job. NOW is the time to find the person or people who will be a great fit for your company, because you get to work from a reasonable, logical place, instead of panicking and just grabbing the first adult with a pulse. Again – take a look at the gaps. Where do you need support? What “fifteen dollars an hour” tasks can you outsource to someone else while you focus on other work? Can you expand your offering by adding a person with different skills? Do it now, so your team is ready.
The bad news: stress hormones block learning and creativity.
Good news: these effects are reversible! Even the many deleterious effects of chronic stress can be alleviated by doing the things we listed in Step #1. Rest, eating well, exercise, and human connection all open up receptors for the happy hormones that allow for creativity and learning. Yay, brain plasticity!
Take a course, read all the books that you saved in a wishlist somewhere, go to lectures and workshops; the list is endless. When business is slower, you have the opportunity to really dig in and get better at what you do, and to add complementary skills to deepen your expertise.
6. Get creative
Now that you’ve had some time to let the hectic pace of your busy season wear off a little, you’re ideally positioned for some serious strategy and visioning work, as well as writing and developing new concepts, products, or ideas. This downtime is fantastic for giving you the brain space to reconnect with why you do what you do, and translate that passion into blog posts, lists of social media and marketing captions, and any kind of public relations copy you want to have on hand. Make an annual calendar for marketing now, prepare and schedule your blog posts, review and edit your sales script as needed, write your newsletters and email sequences right now. You’ve reviewed and honed your systems, now you can fill them with passionate, authentic, and original content.
By taking advantage of your quiet season now, you can set yourself up for even greater success once your business gets busy again. So enjoy the break, be kind to yourself, and pass along any great Netflix discoveries you make.