Surviving When Clients Aren't Rolling In
Here's our top 10 list of "to do" items during slow times to get your business ready for the next wave of success:
1. Catch up on Correspondence
Respond to or file any and all business correspondence. This includes snail mail, voice mail, and e-mail. This would also include invoices, bills, and business leads. Make sure that you are organized and ready for after the holiday season.
2. Make Major Business Purchases
Research those business purchases you've been considering for awhile. Now, you can divert some of your attention away from clients to concentrate on these items. Invest in yourself and your business with computer software upgrades, training, workshops or Web site updates and improvements. You might be able to get some good deals and deduct the purchases off this year's taxes.
3. Review Your Strategic Plan
Business plans and marketing plans are dynamic documents. They can change depending on your needs or your target market's needs. Now, you can reflect on where you've been. Start planning where you'd like to be with an eye toward challenging yourself to achieve bigger and better goals for next year.
4. Read the Latest News and Books
Now is a good time to keep up with trends in your industry as well as local business news. You can familiarize yourself with topics that affect your business and your clients. Also, there are probably a ton of business books you've been wanting to read. Set a goal to read 2 of them by the beginning of next year.
5. Plan Advertising Spots
Set up next season's advertising opportunities. Consider including a mixture of traditional print, radio, internet, upcoming tradeshows or events. This time of year, many aren't focused on the holiday season and wait until it's too late to plan their advertising campaign. Also, if you commit now, you might be lucky enough to get a holiday discount off the usual rates.
6. Re-evaluate Memberships in Business Associations and Organizations
Do they provide support? Camaraderie? Education? Referrals? Customers? If they aren't helping you meet one of your goals, the cost of membership may not be worth it.
7. Look at Your Client Mix
Make a list of the types of clients you've been marketing to. Then, make a list of your actual clients. Do you see some key differences? If so, it might be worth tweaking your marketing plan or even some of your products and services.
8. Commit to Expanding Your Marketing into One New Area
Do you want to start marketing online? Holding workshops? Sending mailings? Writing articles? Pick one new area and add that to your marketing mix for next year.
9. Consider Alliances with Other Businesses
It's difficult to do everything when you are a small business owner. Building alliances can save time and money for everyone involved. They allow you to work with businesses that have products/services that complement yours or have a similar target market.
10. Take a Mental Break From Business
Most of all, enjoy this time to yourself. Take in a sunset. Go to holiday parties. Spend time with family and friends. And, be thankful for all the wonderful events from the past year!
Some designers look at slow business periods in a negative light. Instead, do the opposite. Take this time to reflect on the highs and lows and begin to change the direction of your company to better position itself for the coming months.
By Brett Johnson
Photography by Andres Rodriguez
Brett and Leila Johnson own Data-Scribe(tm), a New Mexico-based firm empowering Micro-Businesses through technology, the written word & training. To get more tips like this, visit their Micro-Business E-Library or sign up for their Micro-Business Gazette at http://www.datascribe.biz.
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