Slow times are scary.
No customers, no prospects. Hope dwindles out like a burnt down candle.
So how should you fill your extra time? Should you go on a vacation? Close up shop?
Instead, there are lots of tasks you can take care of in this glorious free time that will help you feel prepared, accomplished, and start fresh in the New Year.
Here are just a few ideas:
1. Re-connect with Old Contacts
When business is slow, it's the perfect time to reach out to past clients, vendors, and acquaintances just to say hello and happy holidays. At the same time, you're making your name and business fresh in their minds-- it might even lead to a business conversation. Take the time to stay in touch with your contacts.
Write a hand-written holiday letter or card
Send out some personalized e-mails (no group messages, please!)
Make a lunch or coffee date with a few old clients
2. Take Time to Strategize
Since you're able to step out of the daily scramble of detail work, this period is perfect for some big-picture thinking. This is a time to set goals for the coming year, to review your numbers and progress, identify areas where improvements can be made, and to plan for future projects. Take a hard look at where you've been, and from there, decide where you'd like to go with your business.
Set a revenue goal for 2015
Plan improvements for your marketing materials
Study industry trends to identify where your market is headed
3. Get Ready for Tax Season
Nobody likes preparing for tax season, but if you can get everything organized and ready to go, you can get your tax return sooner than ever. This is also a great time to look back at the year of finances as a whole and see where you may be able to trim back certain areas (and where to invest more heavily moving forward.) No more scrambling at the last minute in April!
Get your invoices and receipts organized by month
See what deductions you might be overlooking
Make a year-end donation
4. Refresh your Website
Website looking a little stale and outdated? This is the ideal time for you to plan a website refresh with new content, images, and updated information. You could even plan out an editorial calendar and get a jump start on blog content that will be scheduled and published at a later date. Even if you're just making a few minor tweaks, the changes will give your website a fresh look and feel.
Make sure your website is mobile-friendly
Hire a freelancer to help generate blog content
Update your staff section with fresh headshots and current bios
5. Read a Business Book
With your extra free time, you can expand your knowledge and get the ideas brewing with a good business book. If there's an area you'd like to gain some greater expertise in (like social media, marketing, or leadership), now is the time to get reading! In fact, we've already put together a great, curated book list in case you need some ideas.
If you're in the car quite a bit, get an audio book to listen to during your drive
Pop in headphones during your exercise and try a business podcast
Join a book club (it can even meet online!)
6. Create a Lead Generator
Whether it's a helpful eBook, a few free templates, a guide, or another awesome tool to help you attract new potential customers, when business is slow, it's time to pour your energy into creating a lucrative offer for your website visitors. This form of content marketing will help you grow your email subscribers and help you keep in touch with contacts at all levels of the buyers journey. And if you don't feel like you're up to creating a piece of content like this on your own, you can always hire a freelancer to help flesh out your idea.
Put together a free guide that outlines 'How to be a better ______.'
Create customizable templates that make life easier
Write an eBook on your area of expertise (and include case studies!)
Keep Working Hard
Now, don't get me wrong. I think that everyone deserves a little break during the holiday season, and there's no reason not to reward your hard work with some relaxing days away from your work. But like Gary Vaynerchuk says, 'Time is the one asset none of us are ever gonna get more of.'
Right now, if you have time--so use it! Maximize that precious resource and get ahead of the game.
And, of course, take time to reflect on the fact that you have the luxury of dictating your own schedule. Being your own boss is the greatest gift ever, don't you think?