Things to do when business is slow

Even the best-run businesses go through slow periods. Whether it's due to a sluggish economic period or just a particular time of year - such as school holidays or the Christmas holiday period - most businesses will go through a lull every now and then. Of course, if you identify that your business is going through more than just a quiet phase, it is important to act quickly to ensure you aren't at risk of experiencing significant hardship and possible failure.

However, if you are confident you haven't entered a serious trough, it's important you don't just twiddle your thumbs and wait for things to pick up again. Instead, use the time constructively to do things that you don't usually have time for.   Here's a list of things to consider doing when business is running a little slow:

Focus on the bigger picture

Running a small business means spending a lot of time doing the hard day-to-day tasks. Subsequently, it can be difficult to find time to sit back and analyse how things are going and where the business is heading. If time is always in short supply, a bit of a lull can provide you with the opportunity to focus on the bigger picture. Take the chance to analyse your recent performance as this can help you refine your business strategy and stay on course.

Have a sale

Everybody loves a sale - it's a tried and tested way of improving business. Of course don't go clearing out all your stock at rock-bottom prices if you're just experiencing a bit of quiet period. Look closely at your cash flow to assess what impact the slow down is having on your ability to pay suppliers and creditors. Once you've established your cash flow requirements you are in a good position to determine how much you want to markdown your stock for the sale.

Improve your relationships with your clients

When things are humming along nicely, small things can often get overlooked. Undertaking actions to strengthen your relationship with key clients is often one of them. This can be easily fixed in a number of ways. Consider offering your most important clients special discounts or simply make a greater effort to keep in contact with them by sending them newsletters, brochures or emails. Staying in contact with clients is a relatively easy exercise that can really help improve your business.

Analyse your marketing strategy

Time analysing your marketing strategy is time well spent. Take the opportunity to ask yourself whether you can improve your marketing and consider if there are any areas that are letting you down. Your advertising could possibly do with an update or maybe you could work at creating a stronger brand for your business?

Also see: 'Branding - it's for small businesses too'>>'Branding - it's for small businesses too'>>

Other marketing strategies to consider include direct mail, email and text. You might also consider looking at your online and social media presence. The sight of Facebook and twitter links on seemingly every webpage suggests that many businesses have them just because they can; however, while this may be true in a lot of cases, it doesn't mean you should dismiss them out of hand. When used properly, they can provide a valuable means of staying in contact with clients.

Also, look at your website - is there room to enhance your client's experience when they visit it? As the buying process typically begins online you need to make sure that your website portrays a professional image and draws client's attention.

Also read: 'Pros and cons of social media'>>

There is a vast amount of channels you can use to improve your marketing but before venturing down one path at the cost of others, it is best to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each so you arrive at a strategy that is best going to get your message across to your target market.   

Find out about thrifty tips on how to market your business by reading 'Low cost methods of business promotion'>>

Take some time off

Small business owners rarely take time off simply because if they do there is no one else to keep the business running. This is the tough reality of operating a small venture. However, everyone needs a break at some stage - especially those that have been working long days over many months. If you know that business is going to drop off for a short while and you really need a break it's best to take the opportunity then and come back refreshed and energised to get back into the swing of things.

Most businesses go through lulls from time to time. However, by making the most of this quiet time you may just strengthen your business going forward.

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