If this is your first year or so in the SME world, then brace yourself. You’re about to experience the seasonal ebbs and flows that make this type of work exciting if you know what’s going on, and terrifying if you don’t.
In the SME space – especially in the online arena – people typically get really amped up to launch and buy things twice a year: once in October, and once in March. Barring seasonal businesses, these are the two times of year when clients seem to stream through the door.
Then, come November, everything starts to die off a bit, and everyone dives into the holidays. There’s a bit of a spike again at New Year – especially for planning and resolution-related courses and products – but it’s not until March that people really seem to get their feet under them again.
What does this mean for you?
While every business is different, knowing that this relatively slower time of year is coming up means you don’t have to fall into the all-too-common end of year panic. So many SME owners get a look at their yearly goals at the beginning of Q4, see their progress, and feel like they need to really increase their hustle over the holidays, but this doesn’t always pay off.
So instead of trying to work longer hours or putting an extra effort on getting new clients in the door, why not work with the flow of the year?
6 things you can do during slow periods (that are actually worth your time)
No surprises here – the end of the year is a really popular time for planning, and rightly so. If you want to start the year off right, you need to have at least a general sense of how you want things to play out and where you want your business to go. The slower holiday times are perfect for stepping back, looking at what’s happened so far this year, and setting goals for next year accordingly.
2. Take a look at your finances
As you’re planning, make sure you spend at least a little bit of time looking over your finances. This will not only help you set realistic goals for the upcoming year, it will also leave you better placed for dealing with taxes when the time comes.
So use this time to check-in with your accountant before everyone really checks-out for the holiday – they’ll appreciate you being so on top of things, and you’ll have a solid understanding of where things stand as you begin the new year.
You know all those courses and ebooks and webinars and resources that are sitting on your hard drive? This is the perfect time to start working your way through them.
Whether you set aside a couple of days for a ‘reading retreat’, or simply take some of the time you would normally spend on client projects and devote it to working your way through your course list, this is a great time to make sure you have the skills and expertise you need to make next year’s goals a reality.
While scheduling can be a bit tricky with people going off on holiday and travelling, slower times in the year can be good for networking if you have the flexibility. And we don’t necessarily mean attending big networking events – although if that’s your thing, then go for it! But this can also be a really good time of year to connect with people one-on-one, whether through online calls or over a coffee.
Just remember the main rule of networking: it’s about connecting, not about selling yourself or your products. While that may happen later down the road, right now all you’re trying to do is get to know people.
5. Batch create content
Always find yourself too short on time to create a blog post, video, or social media updates? Then the upcoming downtime is going to be your best friend.
Use this time to devise a content plan, then sit down and create the content to fill it. Once you’ve done that, you can schedule it into your social media planner, website and email marketing software, and be done with it for the year. This will help you ensure you have a steady stream of content throughout the year, and who knows? Maybe having the pressure off will give you the breathing room you need to inspire more spontaneous content too!
You may not realise it, but your business’s greatest asset isn’t your intellectual property, products, or even your client list. It’s you. As the leader of your business, your health and wellbeing plays a huge role in determining the health and wellbeing of the business as a whole.
So take advantage of slower times to make sure you’re taking care of yourself, getting outside and away from the computer or shop for a while, and generally doing whatever you need to do to ensure you can work at your best.
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