It can be good to take a breather and step back from business every now and then. I mean, who doesn’t love days off to relax, regroup, and do away with the usual responsibilities that come with being fully-booked out in your biz?
But what about those times when business is slow – and not by choice?
If you find yourself in this situation due to things that are outside of your control, I want you to take a deep breath and remember that this too shall pass.
Call me the eternal optimist, but I believe there’s good to be had in this! There are things you can do to equip your business to really kick butt when times are better, and avoid feeling the heat the next time slow-times come around (and I’m sharing those, along with a few resources for getting there in this post!)
So allow me if you will, to help you find your very own list of silver-linings for this slow season you currently find yourself in!
(And then implement it!)
We are often so busy working in our businesses that we don’t have the time or brain-space left over to work on our business! This is the perfect time to change that!
Thanks to the invention of the internet, marketing your business is easier than ever…but not quite “build it and the people will come” easy.
Even if you’ve invested major dollars/hours into creating the bombest-looking website or curating the perfect IG feed, people still sort of need to know how to find you first, no?
How you plan to attract your ideal client in the next 3 months? And the next 12 months?
While there are quick marketing wins to be had (ie. super dreamy referrals from past clients) the number of bookings or sales you currently have in your business is usually based on what you were doing 6 months or so ago.
Again, there are seasons of businesses that are slow for reasons beyond your control, but anything you can do today will go a long way in building momentum you need down the road!
So, I would def recommend taking a good long look at both the short and long-term plans you have for marketing your biz. If content creation is part of your marketing plan, use this time to batch-create and begin to build in some consistency!
Here’s a few posts to help you put your marketing thinking cap on. (Some are specific to blogging, though the tips can really be applied to any content sharing platform!)
Plus, a little on using content creation to market your biz. (Some are specific to blogging, though the tips can really be applied to any content sharing platform!)
As you start digging into the BTS of your business, you may start to see some other things that need revisiting!
If you want to make the most of this slow season, I challenge you to look at your systems and workflows with a critical eye and ask yourself a few questions:
Are there any areas of your business that you’re running reallyyyy ineffectively that could be automated or streamlined or a process created for it?
Are there tasks that are taking up so much of your time that they’re stopping you from working on income-generating activities and building your business?
Are there things that you maybe don’t even need to be doing at all because the benefit does not outweigh the time it takes to complete?
Evaluating your business now when you have fewer client-tasks or otherwise to juggle will help you to jump-start success for your next season of biz!
Here’s a few of my fav posts to help you with that:
This may not feel like the time to be investing financially in anything, but this slow season might be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to taking your business to the next level! This might look like…
Taking a course
I don’t know about you but there’s about 15 things at any given time which I think “If I was better at X, that would be HUGE for my business success!” The biggest reason we normally drag our feet on enrolling? Worrying that we won’t finish the course we buy because of not having enough time. You finally have that time luxury, so use it!
Developing a new skill
Whether in business or life, you likely can catch yourself thinking, “I wish I knew how to do that.” Well, now’s the time to learn, my friend! The off season is the absolute perfect time to sign up for that webinar, hire that business coach, read a business book, or seek out tutorials for a new-to-you software.
If you’ve ever hesitated to send potential clients or customers to your online home, it’s safe to say your site is not where you want it to be.
Maybe you already hired a professional to design your first site and the thought of having to shell out for a redesign has kept you from giving your virtual store-front the facelift it needs. Or, maybe you attempted DIY your site, but if you’re being honest, it could use a little (*ahem* a lot of) help.
Slow seasons are the perfect time to deal with website shame and make sure your site’s content and design are on point.
No matter what stage of business you are in, you need to make it easy for visitors to take the action you want them to take! Confusion kills conversion, so it’s worth using this time to sit down and access how well your website is really serving your business.
And finally have a site that works as hard for your business as you do.
My course, Squares Secrets teaches you all the tech and how-to of Squarespace, as well as all the site-building best practices you need to build a completely custom, client & customer-converting killer of a website (so you can sell your products and services in your sleep.)
Ready to use your slow season to finally check off this big to-do that’s been hanging over your head? All the deets on Squares Secrets this way…
Wondering where to go from here? Ask your audience! (And those who have already trusted you with their investments!)
Online business can get a bit one-sided, and our market research often looks like rubber-necking to get a peek at what other businesses might be up to. But those businesses are not your business, and their audience is not your audience.
So the best way to know what YOUR audience wants is to straight up ask!
What do they actually think, want, and feel outside of your assumptions of what they think, want, and feel? How is your company honestly doing in regards to them? What are their pain points? Biggest dreams? Current struggles? What content are they begging for? What content or resources are less of a priority to them?
I do love to get on the phone with past customers and engaged audience members, but my all-time fav way to collect this absolute informational gold is to create a survey!
Here’s a few good reads about how I go about running surveys in my own business:
Have you ever gotten on a consult call, webinar, live Q+A, or IG voice DMs only to realize you have no idea what to say or how to answer your potential client or customer’s questions?
This certainly isn’t the most thrilling task on this list of things to do in a slow season, and it may even feel silly to practice, but winging it isn’t going to do you or your potential client or customer any good.
Ask a friend or family if you can set up a mock call with them. Host a mock webinar in your living room with all of your pets in attendance. Create a running list of common questions that you get from DMs or emails and work out how you plan to respond going forward so that you aren’t having to hem and haw everytime you get the same question.
Obviously you want to avoid sounding like a robot, but developing a little bit of a script ahead of time will prepare you so that you can be fully present with your potential client, customer, or audience instead of frantically wracking your brain for what to say next!
The confidence that comes from being prepared will translate into others having more confidence that they are making the right choice in choosing to work with you.
Selling can feel icky at the best of times, but there are things you can do to make the process easier and more enjoyable for both you and your potential client. You are here to help them after all, and if they don’t know what you offer, you won’t be able to be of much use when it comes to helping them solve their problems!
(Hosting your first webinar? Here are 7 step to prepare!)
Want to improve your offerings so you can increase your prices and set yourself apart as the expert in your field? Continuing education is your friend!
Online courses are one of the best investments I’ve ever made in my business, helping me to fast-track my success and skip the years of expensive (and disheartening) trial and error.
It’s not 1991, you no longer have to make your own way in the wilderness and fight for every scrap of info you can find on the web.
Others have gone before you, and they are putting all the lessons they’ve learned the hard way into easily digestible, self-paced online courses that you can binge-watch Netflix style from the comfort and safety of the you-shaped spot on your sofa.
So if you find yourself stuck in a slow season, there ain’t no time like the present to get your hands on the online courses you’ve been eyeballing, and get to work investing in and improving your business!
My course Square Secrets Business is for you if…
You’ve read all the blogs, listened to all the podcasts, downloaded all the freebies and yet you’re still feeling totally lost.
You’re trying to piece together how to start a web design business on your own with no help and it’s leading to massive overwhelm and confusion.
You wish someone would just take you by the hand and guide you through each step of the process in building a successful and profitable web design business.
Oh and you’d love to be able to just ask an expert your questions when you’re struggling and need help
Sound familiar? Slow-season study sesh coming your way, sister! You can find all the details on Square Secrets Business below.
It can be HARD to have to make all decisions solo without a second opinion. One of the biggest misconceptions of ‘slow periods’ is that you should stop investing in your business. If things aren’t working, you have to find a way to fix it, and seeking a professional’s opinion can really help!
You work all day in your business, and it can be easy to get consumed with certain aspects while totally missing the mark on other important things. Having a second set of eyes on your inner workings can save you from making the same mistakes they’ve seen themselves or others make, saving you years of expensive trial and error.
After you’ve surveyed and chatted with your audience, consider whether there are new products and services your audience or past customers might really need.
Say you’re a web designer, and the number one question you get in your inbox each week is whether site copy is included in your packages? Is it maybe time to consider learning a new skill and building upon your offerings by providing copywriting as a service?
(Ask the right survey questions and you will have your answer!)
Or maybe you don’t want to have to fulfill a new service, but could create useful guides and fill-in-the-blank templates designed to help your ideal client easily DIY their own copy.
Which leads me to the next thing you may consider placing on that slow-season to-do list…
Maybe you’ve been dreaming of adding a passive income stream to your business for a while now, but you’ve just been too dang busy with client work, or otherwise, to really get started.
Welp, the good news in all of this is that you now have alllll the time! So this is the perfect opportunity to sit down and devote your newly-undivided attention to making it happen!
BTW, it’s not lost on me that this feels like a lot of time invested for something that isn’t going to be a quick cash grab (and thanks to this slow season you need more money like, yesterday) but putting your head down and doing the work now will potentially get you out of these sticky situations in the future.
Unlike service-based offerings, passive income products tend to come in at a lower price-point, taking away a big barrier of entry for a lot of people who are interested in what you do.
Offering something passive that is a little bit more budget-friendly is a win-win for both you and your audience. One, you’re making it easy for more people to buy from you (even during slow times) and two, you’re helping way more people with your expertise than you could with the 1:1 model because you being able to fulfill that purchase is no longer limited to the number of hours you have to devote to working any given week.
Ps. If you need a little help getting started, my Passive Income Roadmap was created for such a time as this. These are the exact steps I take when adding a new passive income stream in my biz, and I’m sharing it with you for free.
You’ll likely want to include past clients in your customer and audience survey, but there is something else that could really benefit you to make a priority in this time, and that is to reach out to past clients 1:1 to ask for testimonials!
Most people would be excited to share about a positive experience they had, but life gets busy, and sometimes they need a gentle nudge! But don’t just send them over to google to leave a few stars and one or two sentence “She is awesome. I love her.” review!
Create a list of prompts and specific questions to help your past clients and customers to be more thoughtful and specific in their responses.
Ask them about the pain points and struggles they had that led them to look for solutions for the first place. Include prompts to share their fears and hesitations when it came to choosing who to work with, and why it was they ultimately chose you over the other professionals in your industry.
Help them to describe their business before and after working with you, and to dream up where their business might be a year from now thanks to what you were able to provide.
This is also the perfect time to follow up with past clients and offer additional services. Maybe you have a new offering that wasn’t available when they were working with you and therefore might not be aware? Maybe they were considering another one of your offerings, but those add-ons just weren’t in the budget when they originally booked you or purchased your product.
Maybe you have a new product that address the pain points in the more advanced stage of business they are in now, that they wouldn’t have been in a place to benefit from a few months or even years ago.
Ps. Need some help reaching out to past clients for future client-winning testimonials? Check out An inside look at collecting sales-winning testimonials.
Got an inbox on overflow? Business receipts scattered throughout your house? And how’s your physical workspace lookin’?
These things may not be the bread-winners in your biz, but they are just as important to take care of on the regular. Slower seasons of business are the perfect time to take off the blinders when it comes to your business, and really do the work of cleaning it up.
But it’s not just working on the physical and virtual clutter BTS of your business! This is also the perfect time to reflect on your priorities and direction, and how what you’re doing in the day-to-day aligns with the type of life and business you are trying to design.
Need a few prompts and pointers? Check out my post How to tidy up your online business for more organization and joy.
You know all those photos of client projects on your desktop that you’ve been meaning to add to your site for ages now?
A slow season is a fabulous opportunity to gather up all that before and after goodness, and put it where actual eyeballs will see it!
Your ideal client will likely evolve and change along with your growing business, so your portfolio needs to reflect the type of client you are currently trying to attract!
Pro-tip: not every single project you work on needs to go in your portfolio. Especially if it doesn’t represent the direction you know you’re biz is headed!
If you are a web designer looking to makeover your portfolio, I have just the post for you: Strategically building a portfolio to attract your ideal Squarespace web design clients .
Whether you are a service-based or product-based business, chances are you find yourself having to do some tasks on repeat. Nothing is more frustrating than feeling like you have to reinvent the wheel with every new project you start.
So, why not use this slow time to save time in the future!?
Creating your very own set of systems and processes will help you to streamline and automate your business so that when things do pick up, your time is freed up to take on more clients, or focus on other things that actually move the needle in your business.
My favorite tool for setting up my BTS systems is Asana! Their starter account is free forever, and pretty feature-heavy, so if you have yet to add a project management system to your business, this slow season is the perfect time to get on board!
For more on how and why I use asana in my business, check out:
How’s your CRM looking? Are you using it to its fullest potential?
Ps. Not sure what a CRM is? It stands for Client Relationship Management, and it’s a software you need if you plan to run a client, service, or project-based business.
A CRM is used to help you automate your client process from start to finish, and can do away with a lot of the back and for that comes with locking down sales and bookings, as well as on-boarding and serving your clients effectively.
How do you currently keep track of potential client inquiries and make sure to follow up? Do you have a solid follow up sequence that you follow every time? How do you handle invoices, proposals, and contracts in your business? And do you have a process in place for after a project is finished so that your clients get a pleasant send-off every single time?
CRMs go a long way in improving your client experience and making your business seem more legit and professional all around (making it easier for them to recommend you to future dreamy clients!)
Remember, automation = time saved in the future (and time is money, friend!) So if you don’t already have a CRM, it’s time to research which one might be the best fit for your business. If you do have a CRM but there are features that you aren’t using because you’ve put off learning them, now is the time to binge every single tutorial your CRM company has made available to you and start making the most of this software you are most likely paying big bucks to every month!
Not sure which CRM might be right for you?
When I was offering 1:1 custom web design services, I used Honeybook (yep! That’s an affiliate link!) to keep inquiries and client projects on track and organized. It’s where all my contracts, proposals, invoices, and email templates lived, as well as any files/homework that the client had to submit in order for me to get to work on their project!
Honeybook is more than just creative entrepreneurs, btw! They are perfect for anyone who needs a way to keep all the digital aspects of a client project in one handy, easy-to-track place.
(They have so many useful features that I’ve continued to use their software, even after moving away from the 1:1 service model in my biz!)
Ps. I snagged you a discount! Use this link to get 50% off your first year of Honeybook!
I’m a big fan of outsourcing and passing off those $15-25/hr tasks, or the things that you simply don’t know how to do or haven’t taken the time to learn.
Outsourcing gives you more freedom as the creator and heart behind your business to really focus on the actual income-generating things, rather than getting tied up in the day-to-day pixel pushing that often comes with running an online biz.
But I’ve also been known to bootstrap when outsourcing just isn’t in the budget or when the ROI might not be worth it in a particular season.
Have more time than money? This is your chance to roll up your sleeves and DIY the things you typically pass off potentially saving you big $$ in your slower-seasons.
Don’t worry, you can always hand those tasks off again when things turn around.
So there you have it! Just a few tips and to-dos for working in the back-end of your business so you can hit the ground running when things start to pick up again!
I originally wrote this guide exclusively for past students of my courses to help them through the tough times many of them are experiencing due to the effects of COVID-19.
But if you are currently struggling to stay afloat, or are worried about how your business will weather this storm, I want to make sure you get access to this for free.