5 Mistakes to Avoid during Slow Seasons

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There are many reasons for business to slow down in the summer. Parents are busy with their kids while they’re out of school, business owners are dealing with staff vacations, and many clients are away on vacation themselves. For whatever reason, eventually a time will come when business is not flowing like it used to and it seems like more money is going out than coming in.

woman stressed about slow business

Image © Simon Potter / Image Source – IS655-072

The last thing you want to do is panic.  Panic leads to all sorts of mistakes that can hurt your business in the long run.  Try not to view this slow period as a setback, but an opportunity for you to get ready for the busy season. As with any opportunity, when you plan for it, you minimize the risk of failure.  Many businesses miss this opportunity and make decisions that negatively affect their profits when things pick up. Unfortunately, it’s too late to rectify things then.  Correcting those mistakes will have to wait until the next year.

Here are some of the things you should avoid doing when the slow season settles in on your business.

1. Cut your marketing budget

When money is tight, everyone wants to cut corners.  A slow period in business doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to tighten the reins.  You’ll want to keep an eye on your spending, but that simply means reallocating funds to where they are needed most.

Cutting your marketing budget is a bad mistake that has been made by many business owners.  When you cut your advertising, you decrease your presence in the places that can make a difference in your business.  If you disappear, no one will think to look for you when things begin to pick up.

An organizer I know once stopped publishing her monthly ezine as a cost-cutting measure. She realized her mistake several months later when she happened to run into one of her clients, who expressed surprise that she was still in business. Her client had assumed that the newsletters stopped because she was no longer organizing. Who knows how many others made that same assumption – and how many opportunities she may have missed out on as a result?

Whatever you do, resist the urge to do anything less with your marketing campaign.  It always works against you in the end.

2. Stop promoting your business

This goes along with marketing.  To keep people interested in your business, they have to see you around.  Although some networking groups don’t meet during the summer months, there are plenty that do. With lower attendance, you and your business will stand out even more, so take advantage of that.

Your main promotional tool is probably your website.  On your website you post many things that would get a potential client interested in who you are and what you do.  Nothing turns visitors away faster than a stale website.  Fresh content interests visitors and potential clients even if they aren’t buying right now.  With things being slow, you should have time to add new content at least once or twice a week, and even to prepare some for the busier months ahead.

If you don’t yet have a blog, this is a great time to get started.

3. Cut prices on products and services

“Why is business slow?” is often the last question that is asked, but it should be the first.  Some products and services are cyclical.  They have built in highs and lows.  If business is slow, it is a reasonable assumption that it will climb back to the heights at some point.

In an attempt to change the slow season, many cut prices just to make a sale.  Look at this from the clients’ point of view.  Reducing your rates may make them question whether you were overcharging in the first place. Some may worry that you’re going out of business, and decide to just go with someone else who will be around for the long haul.

Furthermore, price cutting like this eats into your profits.  Your business may get a temporary boost, but what happens when things pick up again?  Do you raise your rates again?  What is the rationale?  That’s what your clients will want to know, too.

There are other ways to stimulate demand besides cutting prices.  Doing so undermines your own business.  Investigate other ways to get clients interested.

4. Stop buying what you need

Some of your suppliers may be going through a slow season as well.  What are they doing about it?  If they erroneously cut prices to bring in customers, take advantage of that and buy the things you need in bulk.  You will save money in the long run.   Spending money to make money is a sound business decision in this situation.  Handling negotiations during slow seasons may work in your favor as well.

5. Take the summer off

If things are really slow, you might be tempted to just close up shop for the summer. Although there’s no reason not to take a well-deserved vacation, I strongly discourage you from taking such a drastic step. Not only will your business suffer if you don’t maintain your visibility, the longer your break, the harder it is to get back in the swing of things afterwards, and you may not be ready when business picks up again in the fall.

I’ll be back next week with some more effective ways to survive the slow season. In the meantime, you may wish to read Seven Ways to Make the Most of Summer Downtime.

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Janet Barclay

A former professional organizer, I now eliminate stress for my clients by hosting, monitoring, and maintaining their WordPress sites so they don’t have to worry about security, downtime or performance issues. When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, watching movies, and cooking.

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  1. Avatar Ellen Delap on July 3, 2013 at 8:17 am

    Yes! You are so right Janet! It can be discouraging, but slow time is a great time to market more!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on July 3, 2013 at 4:02 pm

      It’s one of the challenges of being self-employed, isn’t it! And something people need to take into consideration when they figure out their pricing strategy. Downtimes are inevitable, so you want to make sure you earn enough during peak times to get you through the slow ones.

  2. Avatar Tracy on July 4, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    I find I’m usually busiest in the summer, but I have been tempted at times to take the whole winter off! Heh. I have found it’s a good idea to schedule my extended vacations around my slow times though – I took three weeks off last winter and it was one of the best decisions I made all year. I also like to use my slow times for planning for the busy times of year. I’ve found it’s easy to get caught off guard with other admin details during those busy times if there was no fore thought put into other aspects of the business during the slower times.

    • Avatar Janet on July 4, 2013 at 2:46 pm

      It sounds like you have a good system in place, Tracy! A nice blend of business and pleasure is the perfect way to get through a slow period!

  3. Ron Whitaker Ron Whitaker on July 17, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    The slow season can be a great time to focus on becoming a thought leader in your industry.

    Make a plan on ways to get in front of people–not in a pushy way–but as someone who is a true expert.

    Guest posting on blogs can be one way. Another way, and perhaps more local, is to sponsor local workshops at a library, an organization, or perhaps an organizing-type retail store.

    Then, when people are in need down the road, they’ll think of you!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on July 18, 2013 at 6:48 am

      Speaking is a great way to get the word out about your business, and there are always lots of organizations searching for people to speak. Even though you usually don’t get paid for speaking at stores, libraries, etc., not only is it a good marketing strategy, but you don’t have the burden of advertising the event yourself.

  4. Advertising a Smoother Ride on October 24, 2016 at 11:17 pm

    […] 5 Mistakes to Avoid During Slow Seasons […]

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