If you spent enough time with any business, you would be able to pick up on the regular ebb and flow of its seasons. I’m not talking about spring, summer, fall and winter, rather I’m talking about the natural cycle of busy and non-busy seasons that usually come at regular intervals from year to year.
For many businesses, this depends upon their industry. Some are seasonal for obvious reasons because they cater to a particular holiday or type of weather. But even businesses that offer the same services year-round will still experience periods of slower sales.
A slow season can be just as beneficial to your business as a busy season depending upon how you use your time and how proactive you are about preparing yourself to handle the difference in workload. Here are 6 ways to “winterize” your business for its slow season so that this drop in income won’t leave you out in the cold!
- Minimize overhead expenses
When you know your business is about to slow down for a few weeks or months, the first thing you should do is take a close look at where you’re spending money. There’s a good chance that during this slow season, you can also slow down some of your business expenses. For example, if you have freelance or contract employees, let them know that there may not be work for them in the coming months. Using contractors is a great way to remain flexible to the seasons of your business because you’re not responsible for consistent payroll like you are with employees.
Additionally, you should also cancel any subscriptions or accounts that you may not be using on the regular and are not locked into an annual contract. This could include email marketing or social media monitoring services you use for your clients among other things. One note of caution: if you also use these services for your own business development, you may want to hang on to the subscription and use it to build your business during this slow period. Dropping your account down to a lower level may also be an option.
- Be flexible with pricing
As a business owner, don’t ever forget the simple but essential law of supply and demand. To remain resilient during slow seasons, you need to remain flexible with the pricing of your services. For example, during your peak season you may be able to charge $125 per hour, but during your slow season when your time is not in as high of a demand, it makes sense to take on projects for a lesser hourly rate.
These discounted projects will still add up and help keep you in the black. Be sure and negotiate these rates for a limited period of time so that clients are aware that the prices will raise when you enter back into your busy season. Or try and scope these discounted projects so they wrap up prior to the end of your slow season.
- Focus on building your pipeline
Your business’s slow season is a valuable time to focus your attention back on building your pipeline of prospective clients. This may not earn you income immediately, but it will help set you up for future success. Make phone calls, send emails and put together proposals. Now is the time to invest in business development!
- Create a referral program
Since we’re talking about business development, your slow season is a great time to also launch a referral program to incentivize current clients and contacts to bring you warm leads. Your referral program can include a discount on your services to the person who referred you or a cut of the contract you sign into with their referral – maybe even a blend of both. Think about what makes the most sense for your business structure and then be sure to promote it to your networks!
- Tackle those business projects you put on the back burner
“Winterizing” your business is also a great opportunity to really dig into those corners and tackle business projects you’ve been putting off because you simply haven’t had the time. Now you do! This could include revamping your website and promotional materials, developing a better social media strategy or starting a blog. If business has really died down, make yourself your own client and focus on sprucing up all those odds and ends that have gone by the wayside when you’re swamped with work.
- Take advantage of the extra time to relax and rejuvenate!
If nothing else, your slow season is the ideal time to take a deep breath and focus on your own mental health. Maybe you take a vacation or simply enjoy more downtime at home. However you choose to spend your hours outside the office is up to you, but this could be a valuable opportunity to rebalance your personal and professional responsibilities. Most importantly, use this time to get fully recharged so that when your busy season hits again (and it will) you are ready and raring to go!
When does your business tend to hit a slow season? Share some of the ways in which you “winterize” your business to minimize overhead and focus on client building during these times.