There only ever seems to be two settings when running your own business; too busy or too quiet! Sometimes it flits between the two over the course of one day.
The ability to cope well with this rollercoaster ride defines you as adaptable and resilient. But even the most seasoned self-employed professional can start getting twitchy when business is a little slow.
If you find yourself in a bit of a slump when you don’t have plenty of client work to keep you busy, it’s important to stay productive and try to make the most of the downtime.
Don’t give in to self-doubt
Think about how far you’ve come in your work, the successes you’ve had and the challenges you’ve already conquered. Everyone has quiet periods so try not to panic. Take positive action to quash any anxiousness.
Conduct a business review
This is the perfect time to step back and take stock of where you’re at in your business. Ask yourself who you really want to be working with.
What are you best at? What are your career goals? What is your niche?
Which prospective clients fit into this niche?
Business review checklist:
- Assess your list of current clients and clients who have dropped off.
- Conduct a competitor check.
- Define your niche and who your ideal prospects are.
- Update your website content, work on its SEO and write some blogs.
- Review your social media channels and create content plans.
Ask for work
When you’ve identified past clients that you worked well with and your ideal prospects, get (back) in touch with them. Ask current clients if they have other things that you could help them with (make some suggestions) and reach out to people in your network who might want to outsource work to you.
Give yourself a break
Take some time off. Remember that one of the main benefits of being self-employed is the flexibility it can afford you, and quiet periods are the best time to take a break.
If you don’t feel like your bank balance is up to booking a last-minute holiday then have a long weekend away, or just take a day or afternoon to yourself to do whatever you want to (that’s non-work-related!)
It will inevitably bring you inspiration and make you feel more motivated for work again.
10 ideas for taking some time out from work:
- Read a book
- Work on your own project
- Go for a long walk
- Take a trip to the seaside
- Sign up for a short course
- Visit an exhibition
- Have a spa day
- Go to the cinema
- Tick something off your bucket list
- Play a sport
Prevention not cure
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, so put things in place to reduce the likelihood of another quiet period.
Gaining new clients can be very long lead so plan to do small things often in terms of building connections and relationships. Even when you’re busy, make sure you’re putting some security in place for the longer-term; saving for a rainy day, growing your database of contacts and making regular communications.
By keeping your website up to date with a regular blog and doing some work on its SEO, it should be working away for you in the background, generating interest and enquiries.
Procrastination and deliberation will likely lead to worry when work is quiet. Put some decisive plans in place to ride out less busy times. Just don’t try to do too much and make sure you don’t start lots of things that you can’t finish or continue to commit to when work gets busier again. Choose one priority task that you’d like to achieve in a day and then give yourself time for a break and don’t feel guilty about it.
Prepare yourself for slower times that you know are inevitable, like August when lots of people are on holiday, and have contingency plans in place. Think about the advice you’d give someone else who found themselves with a decreased workload; are you practising what you preach?
Further reading on running your business:
- 14 different tactics for finding new clients
- How to get started with blogging
- SEO basics to improve your website
Sophie Cross Sophie Cross is a freelance writer and marketer specialising in business and travel. She is the editor for London Revealed magazine and her clients include lastminute.com Group and Merlin Entertainments.