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How to Handle Slow Periods

Unless you’re an enterprise level company, you’re probably expecting to experience slow periods. Besides the dip in revenue, you’re also just dreading it in general. Slow periods attack a business owner’s confidence. Learning how to handle slow periods can keep your momentum high after a burst of client activity.

Instead of dreading slow periods, I’ve come up with a recommendation for you. You might actually begin to look forward to slower periods. Or at least you won’t dread them anymore!

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

And here’s the transcript:

Hi, I’m Ruthie, owner of Defy The Status Quo, and you’re listening to an episode of The Defiant Business Podcast, your daily 10-minute dose of business knowledge. So, let’s get into it. Today we’re going to talk about how to handle slow periods. 

Slow periods impact every business. The amount of money coming in can be a bit stressful. When it goes up, that’s super great and you’re like “Oh my goodness, I’m so great at this. I’m such an awesome entrepreneur.” Then, the money could dip. It’s not as high as it usually is, not even your average. Maybe it gets really low. No, you aren’t a failure. This is not the worst thing that could happen. It’s usually indicative of certain things and your business process, but it doesn’t mean that your business is bad, you don’t know what you’re doing, or that all of your clients hate you. 

If the money part is really stressful, as in it could break your business, I advise that you check out episode six, which is why you should read the book Profit First. Once I implemented that system, I was a lot more secure in my cashflow, no matter what amount of money was coming in that month. So I really recommend the book. Go listen to that podcast episode and I’m sure that you’re going to want to read it. 

Moving Your Business Forward During Slow Periods

Slow periods come for all businesses, whether you sell products or services, and they’re not always on a typical or predictable cycle. As a writer, I’ve often heard that summer is a slow period, but I haven’t experienced that yet in my business. I’ve had other slow months, but nothing repetitive at this point. 

So it’s what you’re doing during these periods that matters the most. Just because you don’t have a pending deadline, a client’s work to turn in, client meetings to attend, or products moving out of your warehouse, doesn’t mean that there aren’t other business activities that can help move your business forward. The client’s work and everything is one aspect of what you do. 

When you run your own business, there are business activities that you have to do in order to keep the money coming in. If you don’t have any leads in your pipeline, then your business is going to start to fail. Leads typically equal money as long as you can convert them, and money is what keeps your business going. 

The Slow Time List

My advice for every business owner or marketing manager is, if you’re in charge of a department at your company, have a list of things to do during the slow times. Maybe while you’re slammed with work, an idea comes to mind for a great marketing project, a new product or service that you could offer, but you don’t necessarily have the time to develop it right now. Put It on the slow time list. That’s what we’ll call it, the slow time list

That means that you will put it on the list and take some notes if you need to, so you don’t lose your inspiration. Now you have one more task to do. 

What can go on your slow time list? Let’s explore the options. 

Other Marketing Tasks: Blog Posts and Lead Magnets

Some other things that you might consider doing are marketing tasks. And this is one of my top recommendations. So for smaller businesses, when slow periods happen, it’s typically because you got overloaded with client work or customers’ orders, and you stopped marketing as much as you normally do. 

A dip in marketing activity typically leads to a dip in leads and a decrease in client work or customer orders. What you want to do is try to ramp up your marketing to breathe some new life back into your pipeline. This could be anything. 

It could be that you write more blog posts. However, what I recommend is not blasting all of those blog posts out in an inconsistent manner. You should instead trickle them out. So if you normally posted one blog post per month, but you haven’t posted any blog posts for the last three months, put out one blog post per month. 

Schedule them out so you’re kind of secure. If you manage to write six blog posts during a slow month, and you publish one per month, then you’ve got content going out on your site for the next six months. And that kind of alleviates that pressure for you. 

You might also consider creating a new lead magnet for your website, whether you sell a product or a service. In a previous episode we talked about content variety and how different things like Ebooks, case studies, and white papers impact the sales funnel for your leads. 

Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

If you’ve met me, or you’ve paid any attention to my content in the past, you know that Linkedin is very important to me. Even if you don’t use your Linkedin profile, people will still use it to look you up. So, you want your Linkedin profile to look great. 

  • Does it accurately reflect where you are in your business? 
  • Does it have your tagline? 
  • Is this what you want people to read as they’re researching you? 
  • Does it represent your 8-second elevator pitch, your profile summary? 
  • Does that reflect your 60-second elevator pitch? 

If the answer to any of those questions is no, you should go fix it. Because even if you don’t engage on the business platform, people will use it to look you up, and you want it to present you in the light that you want to be seen in. 

Business Development and Sales Tasks

Other tasks that you can take care of are potentially in your business development, or sales tasks. Follow up on some leads that have gone cold. And what about reaching out to previous clients? Of course, it depends on why they’re not working with you anymore. Reach out to clients you’d like to work with again, or previous clients. 

Look at your network. Maybe now’s a great time to ask people for a couple of referrals like “Hey, I don’t know if you’ve seen my work lately, but things have been going really awesome and I’ve been looking for more opportunities.  Could you give me two names for people you know that you wouldn’t mind sending an introduction email to. Maybe I can send the introduction email and cc you with that person”. If those people like you, I’m sure they’ll come up with at least one name and that gives you a new lead to engage with and speak with. 

Examine Why Slow Periods Hit When They Do 

The big thing here though is that slow periods happen to everyone. It doesn’t mean you need to throw in the towel, but each time a slow period hits, it’s prudent to examine why. Has income dipped because you went on vacation? Okay, well that’s kind of the cost of going on vacation. Now, you can prepare marketing activities and schedule things out ahead of your vacation, so those things all operate on track. 

When You Work With the Government

If you’re a federal contractor listening to this right now, you are getting  ready to enter the really busy time at the end of the government fiscal year. This is when government agencies and organizations spend a lot of money. You may not be marketing as effectively because you’re busy engaging with your customers. You’re getting in those last minute contracts and single source awards. That means your marketing is not necessarily going to be on point. 

You may see a lot of work from old or previous clients, but you may see a dip in new customer work that comes in. Totally fine. Just make sure that you’re assessing that and understanding the reasons behind your slow periods. 

When You Take Time Off

For smaller businesses like freelancers, e.g. writers, were you sick at all last month? Maybe that would account for your lower marketing activities, which could potentially account for lower leads coming in. 

Once you can understand the reasons behind your slow periods, you tend to feel a little bit better about them. The primary business point to highligh is that consistent marketing and sales activity are the keys to business success. As long as you’ve locked down your services, you’re great at what you do, you make your clients or customers happy, and if you sell products, that your product either meets or exceeds your industry standards, then it’ll be the business side of things that trips you up. 

Learn How to Handle Slow Periods and Increase Productivity

Consistent business activities, your business development (developing strategic partnerships), your marketing activities to bring in new business, and your sales activities so you can close the leads that you get from your marketing activities, are the things that will trip up your business the most. 

You can do this. We all go through slow periods. Post about your slow period on Linkedin and I bet you’ll get a ton of responses.

So, thank you for listening today. It’s been an episode of The Defiant Business Podcast on how to handle slow periods. We’d love to get your feedback on this episode. Please feel free to leave a comment wherever you’ve come into this, whether it’s the podcast on my blog, or a video on YouTube. I’ll see you again next time.