10 Things to do When Business is Slow

By MBO Partners | October 17, 2023

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Key Points

There are many reasons business might be slow including time of year, holidays, changing trends, or a lack of projects.

Take advantage of downtime by reviewing your business plan, updating your online presence, or creating new content.

Boost your pipeline by teaming up with another independent, adding new service offerings, or connecting with past clients.

When business is slow, there can be many factors at play. It might be the time of year for your industry, the holiday season, changing consumer trends, or a sign your pipeline needs a boost. As an independent professional, work can ebb and flow from month to month. One day you may be swamped with projects, meetings, or events, and the next you may not receive one call.

So, what can you do to recover from these slow times and get business booming again as quickly as possible? Follow these six tips to make the most of your time when business is slow.

1. Connect with Past Clients

When business is slow, a personalized email or phone call can be an effective way to remind clients that you’re available for work. Send a friendly email or give past clients a call asking how they are doing, if they have any questions on the last project you completed for them, or if they need any new work. They just may surprise you with an opportunity for a new project.

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2. Create New Content

If you have some downtime in between projects, try producing content as a way to attract new clients. You might write an eBook or white paper about a relevant topic in your industry and then add it to your website as a free download. Longer form content can be a great piece of thought leadership and can help position you as a subject matter expert among your peers. Use the eBook or white paper download to build your email-marketing list. This will help broaden your online audience and build your pool of potential new clients.

3. Volunteer or Offer Pro-Bono Work

When business is slow, it’s important to continually grow your network and keep your creative juices flowing. Volunteer to do some pro bono work for a nonprofit organization or offer to teach a workshop or course for a local school or business center. You’ll make new connections, show off your talents, and do some good while you’re at it. In addition to getting your name out there you may end up gaining some clients from your new connections as well.

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4. Expand Your Network

If business is slow during certain stretches of the year like the holidays, use this time to do some networking. Reach out to friends and colleagues and ask if they have any recommendations of people who would be helpful to talk to in your line of business. if there’s someone you’ve always wanted to connect with on LinkedIn see if you can find a mutual friend for an introduction. Or search your area for local networking events, talks, or meetups. Getting your name out there by talking to new people can be a powerful marketing tool. Growing your network and group of contacts helps create a stable based for your business.

5. Team Up with Another Independent Professional

While business may be slow for you, it might be in full swing for another small business peer. Teaming up with another independent to share business can be a great way to get new work. Reach out to your network to see if someone needs assistance on an upcoming project or help pass leads back and forth if someone has too much on their plate.

You might also consider partnering with someone who does work that is complementary to your own, such as a writer partnering with a graphic designer, so you can both present a comprehensive slate of offerings to clients.

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6. Review Your Business Plan

You probably created some sort of business plan when you first started your company, but when’s the last time you looked at it? A slow period of time can be a great opportunity to review your business plan and update your goals. Consider the reasons why you started your business. Do these values still hold true, or can you adjust them to match how your business has evolved? If you want to get back to some of your core values, how might you adjust your business activities to do so? Look at your short- and long-term goals. Are you on track to meet them? If not, what steps can you put in place to achieve them?

7. Update Your Online Presence

Keeping your online presence up to date can be a challenge when you’re busy, so take time now to update your social media pages, blog, digital portfolio, or personal website. Write and schedule out blog posts, social updates, and other content marketing you use months in advance, and check to make sure your branding is consistent across social profiles. A strong marketing strategy will help keep your business visible and draw in potential clients, so use this spare time to your advantage.

Joining an online consulting job marketplace like MBO’s to expand your reach to potential clients. Establishing a presence in job marketplaces gives you an opportunity to promote your skills and experience and showcase your business.

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8. Investigate New Service Offerings

If business seems to be slow due to a lack of project opportunities or interested clients, it might be time to investigate some new service offerings. Review your target audience. Are you truly connecting with them in the right way and in the right places? If not, consider how you might adjust your audience to better fit the services you are offering. Think of other ways you can supplement your core services. Perhaps that takes the form of selling online products like a training course, e-book, or subscription-based content. You might also consider restructuring your services to a recurring model. if you can sell clients on a monthly retainer or package, this can help stabilize your income.

9. Pursue Client Testimonials

A good client testimonial can be a great way to build business credibility and land new clients. But a testimonial can also take time to pursue and put together. This can be a good project to tackle when business is slow. Start by reaching out to a past client who you have a good relationship with and ask if they’d be willing to work with you on a testimonial. Make it easy for them to provide feedback by giving them a form to fill out, asking if they’d be willing to answer a few questions in a short video testimonial, or seeing if they would work with you on creating a short case study.

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10. Learn Something New

A few extra hours in the day can go far. Consider taking a class, pursuing a certification, or learning how to use a new technology. Not only will you be able to add this skill your resume, but you may also find inspiration in your newfound abilities and generate some ideas to help you start pulling in clients.

With your testimonial in hand, be sure to thank your client and then put it to good use by displaying it on your website, or highlighting it on social media.

The next time your business hits a slow stretch, don’t hit the panic button. Apply a few of these tips, take a step back, and make the most of your downtime.

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