I know the occasional slow period is a normal part of life as a soloist, but when one hit recently, I was unprepared for the anguish I’d feel when not generating new business! Fortunately I now know a short amount of down time is not a disaster.
I wish I could say that slow times never happen, but that would be pretending. I’ve been doing my solo thing for three years now. And like most new businesses, it has taken time to build a client base and establish a foundation.
During the early days, there were times when I wasn’t doing much client work, but I made up for it because I was still planning, exploring my market, refining my offer and slowly generating new business.
I thought that some of those early times were slow, but they were nothing compared to a eight week period I went through late last year. The phones literally stopped ringing, the emails stopped arriving, all my leads dried up and I stopped generating new business.
I wondered what I was doing wrong. I certainly hadn’t stopped any of my usual marketing activity. I was out and about at plenty of functions, following up on prior contacts and staying in touch with prospects.
There was just nada. Zip. Zero
I tried to respond positively, telling myself it was one of those slow times that people always talk about. I told myself this 100 times, but I still felt as though I was doing something wrong, as though my business was no longer viable.
Christmas was approaching with all it’s extra expenses and, let’s face it, I was really worried.
My response was to find some new markets to operate in. So I introduced myself to a bunch of people who didn’t know about me. I spent some money on a marketing consultant and a plan, which was duly executed.
And then suddenly, the phones came back…with a vengeance. I was busier than I have ever been generating new business. And none of the new work came from my new marketing campaign. It all came from the people I’d been in touch with previously.
For me, the lesson in this experience was that no matter how long you’ve been in business, you will get the slow times. The trick is not to panic, not to necessarily go and try a whole lot of new things, just keep on with your regular marketing activities and stay positive. Downs are always balanced with ups. And having just come out of my most successful six month period ever, I’m looking forward to some slow time!
My plans for my next slow period are: go to the movies!
This article first appeared in Australia’s online magazine for solo business owners, www.flyingsolo.com.au.