The Quiet Times
Back in May I wrote about blog content generators and asked for you to submit topics or titles you'd like me to write about, every now and then I get to throw one in and this week, it's the turn of 'Do you get weeks where it's completely dead? What do you do to stay motivated?'
We all have quiet weeks no matter if we're a one girl/boy band or have an army of employees. It can't be busy for everyone all the time. In the last 4 months i've been so busy I seem to have things hanging over me that move from one weeks to do list to the next, but there's definitely been days, weeks and even months last year where it's worryingly quiet.
The trouble with the quiet times is that our nasty little fears creep in to scare us. The gremlins who hide when it's going well, pop out to say 'maybe you'll never get an order ever again' or 'now you can't treat yourself to that meal out/ the shoes you wanted/ the new dining table' they like to make things difficult and bring us back down to earth with a bang. The things that I tell myself to help me stay in a happy headspace are that everyone has quiet times and that at some point, an order will come in and normally it's like someones turned the tap back on.
The way I deal with it practically, is to make a list of priorities. Figure out what's most important to get done and organised. Quiet times are wonderful opportunities to tick off all those crappy jobs on the to do list, checking all product listing for spellings and mistakes, updating product photos, making Christmas stock and all the rest of it. The killer for most small businesses is cash flow so make sure that if there's not a lot coming in, not a lot's going out either. To let the two work together, I find it best to make a list of whats most important to do and then number those items out of 10 depending on how much much of an expense it will be. If you're top priorities won't cost a lot other than time, then thats wonderful, if they are all going to drain the bank then work out the best compromise. Is there one thing you could spend money on and then do other things that won't drain the bank? or could you reduce the costs but ordering less? etc
When the busy times come again you'll be wishing for a moment to sit down with a guilt-free cup of tea so enjoy the quiet but don't waste it, use it to prepare for the mania that will no doubt follow. You'll be so grateful that you got organised when you could.
And if you need inspiration on what to do, here's a list of things I generally do when it's quiet -
- Make Stock!
- Consider, is there anything I could be doing to help sales along? Marketing, promotions etc
- Stationary/packaging order (even if I don't place it at the time, get a list ready)
- Stock/materials order (same, don't necessarily need to order now, but be ready)
- Check product listings on all platforms for general mistakes and spellings
- Design new products/ write descriptions for them and save as a draft
- Plan photoshoot, what photos am I taking, what props will I need, what order shall I take them in to be the most productive.
- Update photographs of new and existing products
- Take images for social media platforms
- Social media plan/ blog plan - when will you post what?
- Brainstorm ideas for blog posts
- Marketing plan for upcoming events/ new product launches
- Design/order new promotional materials (business cards, swing tags, postcards)
- Think about how to update existing products and implement - can I add more colours to a range?
- Super boring bits like insurance, internet providers, pension plans
- Update all accounts and expenses (which normally involved hours spend on the .Gov website)
- Write press releases for upcoming announcements/new products/Christmas range
- Attach the string to swing tags so they're ready to go.
- TIDY! <3 (a clean and organised workspace is so much nicer to be in!)
Just because orders aren't flooding in, doesn't mean there's nothing to do. It just means you need to be clever with what you do and when. Try not to get down about it, I know it's a worry but we're all in the same boat and it will pick up again. If you've done everything you can to encourage sales (without being a total pushy nuisance!) then enjoy the opportunity to leave your studio for a bit, go have a cup of tea and a piece of cake with a friend and don't feel bad about it, then head back and crack on with the everlasting to do list so you know you've achieved something and you're still working towards your goal but not under a crazy amount of stress.
I hope that helps a little bit!