Every business goes through a quiet patch. Whether it’s seasonal downtime, like an ice cream vendor in winter, or a weak business pipeline, quiet periods can actually be a good time to reflect on and reinvigorate your business. Use slow periods as opportunities to prepare your business for growth.
The first thing you should consider is your capacity. If you cannot handle the increased workload that comes with growth and greater sales, then you should not yet be aiming for growth.
Many businesses experience ‘growing pains’ when they expand without being ready. Typical symptoms include unnecessary stress and strain on your existing responsibilities, which gives your new customers a bad experience or sees your existing clients neglected as you take care of new clients. This not only results in a loss of clients, it can also be a hit to your reputation.
Gauging capacity may be difficult in a slow period because you may not know how far your current resources can stretch. Start by analysing how your time is spent and assess which activities you can cut back on, which areas you should increase your investment, and where you may be able to outsource to make sure your time leads to profit.
As part of this process, create systems and processes for your business that will streamline your activities and also make it possible for work to be handed over to extra help when needed. This might be in the form of an orientation booklet or a procedure manual—these needn’t be sagas, but should give a clear picture of how you run things. It’s no good bringing on someone else to help grow your business when you’re the only person who knows how things work!
You can also use this time to review your marketing and public relations (PR) to generate more business and prevent too many of these quiet periods in the future.
Conduct an audit of your marketing and PR activities and material to make sure your business is known, liked and trusted by the right people. Use this review to identify obstacles that prevent people from doing business with you, which could be anything from a badly designed online shopping cart or a communication glitch, and use your time to smooth over these problems and perfect the process.
How do you use slow periods to grow your business?