Owning a business is not for the faint of heart, especially when business is slow.
While working for yourself and not answering to a boss may seem like the dream job, being a business owner has its drawbacks.
You are never guaranteed a paycheck. If the business doesn’t make enough to pay your salary, that’s all there is to it. Additionally, when business is slow, everything falls on you to pick it back up again.
However, the perks of owning your own business make it all worth it. Therefore, don’t close up shop just because business is slow!
Whether it’s seasonal or a slow and steady decline, you can save your business. It’s not over until it’s over.
1. When Business Is Slow, Take a Step Back and Breathe
The first thing you need to do when business has slowed down, and you begin to fear the worst, is to stop and breath. Take a step back.
While a healthy amount of fear can boost your drive and performance, operating out of a place of panic is never a good idea. Panic causes us to make poor decisions based on desperation rather than logical, productive thought.
If you begin to panic, take the necessary steps to calm yourself down before making any decisions. It may even be beneficial to take a couple of days off and return to the situation with a clear mind.
Once you’re in the right frame of mind, reflect on your business and its performance before everything slowed down. If your business has always been slow, there might be something wrong with the way you’re doing things.
If not, it could be seasonal, you may have altered your business formula in a negative way, or the market may be changing.
Seasons affect the majority of businesses in one way or another depending on the severity of weather changes. Although, some businesses definitely feel it harder than others.
Landscaping, construction, and holiday-related businesses are obviously going to be heavily affected by seasonal changes. They may even be non-operational during the offseason.
However, gyms, restaurants, moving companies, and food trucks are also affected. In some states where winters and summers can be especially harsh, almost all businesses take a hit.
Negative Business Changes
An unexpected decrease in business performance may very well be caused by an alteration to your business model, products, or services.
It’s vital that business owners track their performance each month so they can analyze what works and what doesn’t. Lack of attention to this data can result in needing to know how to turn around a failing small business.
If a change isn’t well-received by your demographic, remedy it immediately and get things back on track.
Changes in the Market
A market is an ever-changing place. Consumerism ebbs and flows with the wind. Products that flew off the shelf last year could sit dead in the water this year. If your business slowed down, it could mean you need to update your products.
Pay attention to trends in the market and consumerism. Stay up to date on everything in your business’s field. Stay ahead of the curve.
Find similar businesses that are killing it and analyze what they are doing. You don’t need to steal their ideas, but if they’re doing well and you’re not, you can probably learn something from them.
Finally, find out what similar companies are charging for their products and services. You may be over-priced and scaring people away. On the other hand, if you are underpriced, it may have the same effect, suggesting that you’re sacrificing quality in the products or services you offer.
Now that you have done your research, it’s time to revamp your business. When business is slow, it’s necessary to take as many steps as possible to reverse it.
Generally, a business’s performance is a direct reflection of the energy put into it. A lack of energy or energy misdirected can lead to the failure of any business.
One of the best ways to get answers as to why business is slow is to simply ask.
Ask your current and past customers to complete surveys: What did they like? What didn’t they like? What would they like to see?
You can also put out surveys to the community at large: What do they like most about your type of business? What could businesses like yours do to better satisfy their customers?
Aside from researching your market and demographics, start educating yourself on being a better business owner.
Now that you have extra time, use it wisely. Take courses, read blogs, hire consultants. Do everything you can to better yourself as a business owner.
Business Meeting / Consultant
If you have business partners and/or employees, call a company meeting. Sit everyone down and level with them. Explain to them how business is slow, and see if anyone has any constructive insight.
Make sure everyone knows they can speak freely. If you are mismanaging things, it’s vital you become aware of it.
It’s important to involve your employees. First, they probably see things from a different perspective than you and the other owners. Second, if you need to start cutting hours, they deserve to know what’s coming and why.
On a separate note, hiring a performance-based consultant that only gets paid if they provide additional net profit for your business may well be worth your time and consideration.
Depending on what you have learned at this point, your business model may be outdated.
For example, if you’re still operating a VCR repair shop, it’s probably time to change things up a bit. Don’t get stuck in the past or in your own ways.
Successful business owners conform to consumerism, not the other way around.
As we discussed above, trending products can sometimes change overnight. Even if a product breaks records one year, it may not sell at all the next.
While you don’t want to run out of product, over-stocking can be just as devastating.
Also mentioned above was the importance of business owners tracking their performance. This principle also applies to advertisements.
A smart business owner will always track how their various forms of advertising perform, not just when business is slow.
On that note, if you are not trying different angles of marketing, you need to. You need to try not only different methods but different approaches.
For example, while using Facebook advertising, try three or four different ads in a monthly rotation. Try serious ads, funny ads, ads with attention-grabbing pictures, etc.
Facebook keeps track of how each one performs. Use it to your advantage and double down on the ones performing the best.
Part of revamping your business may mean revamping your website. Your website needs to be user-friendly, aesthetically pleasing, and interactive.
When potential customers visit your site and are met with a clumsy interface and blurry and grainy pictures, it won’t attract them to your business.
This is incredibly important as 65% of consumers look to the web to determine the validity and quality of businesses, companies, and products.
As we are on the topic of websites, your internet presence can make or break your company.
You need to understand what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is and how to optimize yours online. SEO helps your business come up in search engines when people research products or services you offer. The stronger your SEO, the more people will find you online.
5. Double down on Your Marketing Efforts
Everything about business is instilling your brand and presence in the market. Make sure people know you exist, where to find you, and what you have to offer.
Focus on how your company is different from others. When business is slow, it’s time to double down on marketing.
Promotions are a fantastic way to generate some buzz about your business. It’s a way to get customers, old and new, excited about your services and products.
A great way to get your name around and get potential customers is running a social media contest.
Make a raffle for free products or services. In order to apply, people must like and share your page or the ad. At the deadline of the raffle, you will have to give away your services for free, but you will have generated a lot of interest in your business.
Get creative and make a series of promotions.
For existing customers and clients, create a referral system for your company.
Be generous with this offer so your people will really want to help your business grow. You could run a competition where the top referrers get a ridiculous reward.
Advertising is expensive. Even giving away your products or services to your top referrers will be much cheaper than doing it the old-fashioned way.
The importance of social media cannot be overstated. In America, 80% of the population is connected to a social media account.
Take advantage of social media by being active on it. Create a business page on Facebook, and post on it frequently. Ask for people to like and share your page and posts.
Use the social media’s advertising platform to reach out to your community. Facebook and Instagram are incredibly useful for businesses.
If your business is slow, use the time to master social media.
Email campaigning is one of the most effective marketing tools today.
These emails go out to people who have subscribed or used your services in the past. They let your customers know you’re thinking about them and gives them exclusive offers.
Email campaigning is heavily relied upon for converting advertising to sales.
While business is slow, reach out to other businesses. They don’t have to be similar businesses; it’s just good to be connected.
Often, businesses will affiliate with others and use each other for free advertising and recommendations. Offer 25% off for anybody recommend by your affiliates.
The more affiliates you have, the more you will be recognized.
While many people believe traditional advertising is dead, it’s still very much alive.
Newspaper, local TV and radio stations, and direct mailing are still viable sources of advertising. Don’t count them out just yet.
Pictures and Videos
Most of us are very visual people. Simply put, we enjoy things that are pretty and attention-grabbing.
Additionally, we are kind of lazy by nature. Therefore, we are much more likely to watch an interesting 30-second video than sit and read a few paragraphs.
If you want repeat business, let your customers know they are appreciated.
Keep your company and products on their minds by mailing out or emailing exclusive promotions and free tips and advice on whatever you specialize in.
For example, gym owners could send out healthy recipes or free workout plans.
6. Find a Side Hustle
When your business is slow, it might be a good time to develop a nice little side hustle. Especially if your company tends to fluctuate with the seasons, it would be nice to have a second or third source of income.
You could start a blog and try to monetize it, linking it to your business if it applies. However, it takes a lot of work and know-how. If it’s worth your time, it may be a very beneficial investment.
You could also search for remote internet jobs such as content writing, call services, etc.
If you are not incredibly tech savvy, you could start a smaller side business, such as a lawn care or cleaning service, or you could always get a part-time job.
The opportunities are endless.
The Benefits of Performance-Based Consultants
Most small business owners are not yet experts at running companies. They may never be. Small business owners operate out of a passion for what they do, otherwise, they wouldn’t do it. Therefore, nearly all small business owners can benefit from hiring a consultant, especially when business is slow.
Performance-based consulting is a modern way to get the help you need as a business owner without the risk of paying for no results or attending lengthy and expensive seminars.
For performance-based business consulting, contact The Business Turnaround Group.