Taking the Time to ListenJuly 20, 2016
Running Late – The Story of Your Life?August 26, 2016
“Slow days are my least productive days,” a client once told me. “I know I should be handling a dozen things I never have time for, and yet all I seem to accomplish is playing around on Facebook and hoping that someone will call with new work.”
In the current economic situation, with clients holding off on ordering specialized services, many small business owners find themselves in the same boat. You may have wished for an opportunity to finally clean up, catch up with past business tasks, and write marketing message – but you probably didn’t mean THIS.
Here are a few thoughts about using your business time effectively in spite of worrying:
1. Start with an easy task to get moving
The sluggishness you feel on slow days may be caused by a mix of worry and the sudden absence of strict demands on your time. Since it probably does little good to dwell on existential threats (“I’ll never get work again”), pick one clearly defined task that you commonly don’t have time for. That can be something as easy as dusting off your computer equipment and updating your software. If you easily get bogged down at your computer, try doing a few tasks without sitting down.
If a few slow weeks lead to money worries, it may be necessary to take a hard look at your pricing practices.
2. Think strategically
Don’t make decisions in a panic. Instead, gather as much business information as you can. Take a look at upcoming bills, bank balances and accounts receivable. Calculate how much business you will need in the coming weeks and months to cover expenses. Then brainstorm alternative sources of income that may help to bridge the gap. Think of possible ways to brush up on skills and review past orders to look for examples of your work. Are there any half-finished projects in your pipeline that may be helpful now? What is your skill set?
3. Review your marketing materials
When things are busy, there is never enough time to look at branding or marketing strategy as a whole. Slow days are a good opportunity to update your website, write fresh profiles, or revise the marketing brief you typically send in response to new inquiries. Do the materials accurately reflect your pricing and specialization? Can you list recently completed projects as references, and did you receive particularly positive feedback that should be included in your marketing materials?
Here are a few slow-day lessons I’ve learned over the years:
– The next project is sure to come in. There is no need to check your email every 10 minutes or to accept work at substantially lower rates. Find constructive things to do.
– Effective strategizing can be difficult to do on your own, especially if you feel anxious. Talk to a colleague or a coach to get your ideas back on track.
– Don’t obsess over the situation.