Having a slow quarter or ‘downtime’ sounds like the worst thing for your business. After all, you’re not only there to satiate your passion through your profession – you’re there to make money. And without your regular steady flow of customers, it’s seems natural to panic a little and spend energy trying to combat the slow season – whatever the cause may be.
Successful entrepreneurs are defined by their hustle and love for their craft and communities, but they can’t stay ‘ON’ all the time. If they did, they’d either be robots or burning both ends of the candle until there’s nothing but a useless wick. That’s why ‘downtime’ can actually be a gift of sorts.
Think of a slow business period as your off-season. NBA or NFL players don’t play 365 days a year. They use the off-season to fine tune their weak points and come back stronger the next season.
Take a Step Back
Now, this may not be the most popular suggestion for the go-getters of the world but there really is something remarkable in the effectiveness of taking a step back and looking at the whole picture. We’re so engrained with our day-to-day duties that we sometimes forget why we started our business along with the passion that came with it. That… can be the beginning of the end.
After taking that step back and reigniting your passion, consider taking a beat and relax for a minute. Or better yet, a weekend. Success is not measured by how many hours you work, it’s measured by its effectiveness according to an article from Inc. Magazine. When you do take some time to relax, keep in mind that “any ‘break’ should refresh you enough to return to work stronger” (CNBC). So really use that time!
Identify and Prioritize
Identifying the weakest points in your business and setting priorities to improve them can be one of the best uses of your downtime. Since you took a step back and looked at the whole picture, it can be a lot easier to see where your business shortcomings are. A quick list of questions to reference can be:
- When was the last time you updated your website? Social media profiles?
- Are you happy with your online engagement on social media?
- Do you have any unanswered emails/inbox messages?
- Have you ‘Googled’ your business recently? Check where your listing stands.
- What’s your cyber security situation? Do you have any?
- Are you doing a lot of the back-office work, preventing you from improving other aspects of the business (ie; payroll, bookkeeping, HR, asset management, etc.)?
- Are you still using technology from the early 2000 era? Even if it was just five years ago, you’d still do well to research the newest shiny items in tech and AI.
Create a Plan of Attack
There’s probably a lot of work to do if you’re trying to button up your entire business. Maybe you have the staff for it, but most small businesses don’t, hence the multiple-hat wearing entrepreneur. We don’t have to tell you that you shouldn’t do everything in your business. You are the most valuable asset in your business – don’t burn yourself out.
Since you’ve already identified and prioritized the issues you’re going to tackle, you can do a few things: research how to fix the problem yourself, delegate to your staff most suitable for the task, or consult with experts to find the most effective and financially feasible route to the solution.
By now you’ve hopefully identified a few parts of your business that need improvement and have researched all possible ways to tackle the problem. Can you afford a new hire to help? If not, maybe you can hire a freelancer or consult with a business services platform. Either way, it’s important that whoever helps you is an expert. If not, then you might as well have done it yourself, which – let’s be honest – you probably already tried and is in part why you’re finding these weak points now.
Consider taking some time and really get the most out of the hours you and your staff put in. If your business improves in aspects within your infrastructure, everything else should fall into place. Your employees are happy, you’re not working 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, and you’re all caught up on the little things that may have snuck by when you were extremely busy last month.
Having a successful business does not happen overnight or even over a year. It’s a living, breathing organism that can require your patience and care over time. To quote the great NBA coach, Pat Riley:
Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.
When you have time, always look at where you can improve. You, your employees and your customers will be thankful for it.