When Business gets Slow—it’s Time to get Busy!
Don’t let the current economy or challenging business climate force you into hiding for the winter. Get busy, fill up your calendar and watch the phone start ringing while your competition waits for next year.
As the days become shorter and the weather grows colder and wetter (at least here in Seattle), many small business owners also enter what can be an inclement season for business. Don't get me wrong, several industries make great strides during the holidays. Retail often picks up as shoppers begin to check items off the holiday wish lists. Professional organizers may see a flurry of appointments as clients feel the urgent need to make their homes attractive for hosting events. However even businesses that usually see great profits during the winter quarter may be in for a rough ride this year as experts anticipate consumers to hunker down and only come out on triple coupon Thursdays! Whether you're in the midst of a natural slow time or the recent woes of our nation's economy have slammed the breaks on your business, one great way to shift into gear is by creating activity.
In my industry, November and December are naturally slower times for sales. Many of my colleagues head home, draw the shades and wait like the groundhog for sunnier selling months. But by the time they reset their calendars for the New Year, their momentum will be at ground zero. Why wait for January to ramp up your business? Below are some ideas for staying busy that I have found help create real busyness--which eventually leads to making money.
Go into the office:
I realize this won't fly with many of our solopreneurs out there but hang with me on this idea. I am a big believer in working in an environment that is not only conducive to success but also gives me momentum to continue doing my industry related tasks. Going to work at my office gives me a place where I can focus on business and I have everything I need to run my business. In addition, I am around my colleagues doing the same thing. I hear real estate related conversations. I hear what other people are experiencing with the market. I learn from events that happen with other agents. I join people going out to tour homes on the market. In a sense, I am submersed in my industry's lingo, jargon and current happenings. This would NOT happen were I to stay home with my laptop. For those who work from a home office, don't write me off quite yet. "Going to the office" for you might be organizing industry specific Biznik events for you to catch up with people that do the same thing as you and provide mutual support. Or rent an office space twice a week so you aren't distracted by breaking news on MSNBC. Whatever shape it takes, work in a place that both allows you to focus and provides a naturally motivating atmosphere.
Schedule two lunches or coffee appointments with past clients or friends per week. You don't have to talk about your business but we all know as small business owners that 90% of other people bring it up in conversation. We usually never have to! But if your business never comes up...don't worry. You just had two face to face meetings with friends that already know you're a professional organizer. And when they hear of someone swimming in clutter, you'll be on the top of their mind to recommend. Plus, you get to hang out with your friends and write it off!
Write two handwritten notes per day:
In our technologically dependent world, nothing "wows" people more than getting a handwritten note in the mail. They're the first thing opened and people always remember them. Two to three sentences that say: "Thinking about you...let's catch up soon." Simple, yet poignant. I use non-branded stationery...but that's up to you.
Read a Book:
I have heard from several different sources that if you have read one non-fiction book in the last year (that was not required by school) then you are in the top half of 1% of people in the U.S. Aside from being shockingly disappointed in your fellow Americans, what else does that tell you? It tells me that very few people are gaining knowledge from books that might improve their lives. So while others are burrowed for the winter, read 5-10 pages per day of a book related to your industry and get better while the groundhogs are sleeping.
This is a favorite of the real estate industry, but I feel it might translate well to others as well. For people in your database that might think it weird if you take them out to coffee or are hard to get in touch with...pop by their house! It's not weird unless you make it weird. Prior to Thanksgiving, buy several boxes of Ziploc-style food baggies. Tie a ribbon around a box with a little note attached. The note can have a funny explanation that the baggies are for all the leftovers they will take home and you wish them a happy Thanksgiving. Don't need to sell them anything or talk about your business. But I'll put money down that they'll probably ask!
So if your slow season is now or will come later next summer, don't sit at home and wait for the phone to ring. Fill up your calendar with activities that put you in contact with your sphere or put you a step ahead of your competitors. Because when the groundhogs decide the economy has improved enough to come out for the spring, you can be the first to welcome them to the party.
Learn more about the author, Phil Greely.
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- real estate
- phil greely
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- time management