Making the Most of Slow Times in Business
Guest Post by Daniel Matthews
A business is like a shark. If it stops moving, it dies. From sales and customer service to production and supply chains, if a company slows to a halt, it simply can’t stay in business. Nevertheless, there are times when the busyness of business can slow down to a crawl. Whether it’s a specific time of year, an economic crisis, or anything in between, most business owners have to face times when activity is sluggish, work is light, and income is lagging.
When this happens, it’s important that you do your best not to twiddle your thumbs waiting for things to pick back up again. Instead, find ways to utilize that time in the best way possible. Use the following tips as a springboard to come up with ideas to make the most of the slow times in your company.
Conduct a Business Review
When business is peppy, it’s easy to let details slide through the cracks. Organization can ease up and following procedures can become lax as you attempt to focus on things like customer satisfaction, closing sales, and even details like shipping and handling.
When things are slower, it can provide a great opportunity to tend to non-customer facing areas of your operation. Start by reviewing how your business is operating. A few questions to ask include:
- Are your finances in good order or do they need to be organized?
- Do you have overhead costs that can be reduced or even eliminated?
- Are there any R&D or other innovative activities that you can focus on?
- Is your supply chain operating at maximum efficiency?
- Is your brand consistent across all of its customer-facing channels?
- Are your internal activities working smoothly or do they need an overhaul?
- Have you conducted a risk management assessment recently?
By asking the right questions, you can identify areas ripe for improvement during slow times.
Invest in Uptraining
Most modern employees expect to continue to have opportunities to develop their skillset. Sluggish times can provide the perfect opportunity to offer them just that.
Start by reviewing your existing software. From communication to accounting, presentations to payroll, is your staff well-trained with the tools that they use on a regular basis?
If you want to take things further, you can offer things like IT certifications or digital marketing classes to allow employees to add completely new skills to their repertoire as well.
Take Time to Reorient Yourself and Your Team
Often busy times can slowly lead to a team drifting apart. As each employee struggles to manage a large workload, they can slide into pockets of self-absorbed isolation. This is especially easy if you’re operating in a remote work environment.
When things are slow, it can give you the perfect chance to reorient your company. Address things like communication and collaboration. Remind your team about your company’s values, vision, and mission. You can even focus on things like mental health and productivity.
Whatever the topic, use slow times as a natural breather. Seize on the occasion as a chance to reset both yourself and your team, so that you’re ready for whatever lies ahead.
Preparing for the Next Busy Season
At the end of the day, slow times don’t have to be periods of business that you simply “try to get through.” When looked at positively, they can also provide an ideal situation for internal reflection and improvement.
From working on your team’s communication and skillsets to reviewing the general state of your business, there is always plenty to do when the sales aren’t keeping you busy. So start with a review of the state of your company. Look for areas that are in desperate need of improvement. Once you’ve shored up your existing operation, look further. Find team-building exercises and training courses that can help to sharpen your team’s abilities as you prepare for the next upswing in business activity.
Author Bio: Daniel Matthews is a freelance writer from Boise, ID who has written for Social Media Today, Switch and Shift, Triple Pundit, and others. He specializes in company culture, sales and marketing, as well as tech, with a sprinkle of anything super-interesting in the world right now. You can connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.