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12 Things to Do When Business Is Slow

Each day is a series of meetings, phone calls, fire drills and you-have-a-minute mini-sessions. But inevitably, there comes a time when there’s a lull. A period of time when all that stops and we’re left staring at each other looking for something to do.

Deep breath… Ahhhh. This is nice. For a minute.

Then comes the “Oh Shit” moment. “How do I keep my employees busy?” “How do I make money when it’s slow?” “This is a disaster for our bottom line.” What should you do when business is slow? Here are a dozen ideas.

1. Clean Your House

Yep, that’s right. Throw on that comfy t-shirt and dig in. Let’s open up the fire hose on that office. We’re going to dust. And file. And purge. And organize. Maybe you can try cleaning up that email inbox. Or organize your cloud server. You’re most likely not going to have a better time than now to get things in order. Take advantage of it.

2. Advertise

Now is the perfect time to make an investment into your business. If your entire industry is slow, most of your competitors will be cutting their ad spending. Capitalize on it.

3. Brand/Rebrand Yourself

There is no better time than now to tell the world, and your employees, who you are. Ready to refresh that tired logo? Do it. Are your Mission and Vision statements feeling a bit stale? Re-energize them. Feel like you need to make a shift in your overall direction? Take the wheel. It takes time, patience and careful consideration to create a brand. Now is the time.

4. Create An Internal Campaign

Work sucks. Seriously. Even if you like your job, it still sucks. So make it not suck so much. Talk to your employees about what would make their job more enjoyable and efficient. Create a committee of people from across all job functions within your company and let them work on ideas to create more team unity. Create a series of workshops that allow your employees to see the greater vision of the entire company so they can own their role in its future. Invest inside and it will show outside.

5. Volunteer

Take half a day and have the entire office work at the Food Bank for an afternoon. Arm your staff with hammers and paint brushes and spend the day helping Habitat for Humanity. Encourage your employees to contact the American Red Cross (1-800-RED-CROSS) and schedule an appointment to donate blood. There are no shortages of things you can do to give back. Who knows, you just may bring the people in your organization closer together.

6. Educate

Been thinking of taking those online classes? Maybe having that productivity expert share tips and trick with your staff is a good idea? What about having someone within your company conduct a Lunch and Learn? It’s a perfect time to invest in the personal growth of the people within your organization.

7. Self-Care

Speaking of investing in people, why not give them the opportunity to do what they need to do to recharge. Perhaps you give everyone a four-day weekend? It beats having everyone sit around with nothing to do wondering what’s coming next.

8. Competitive Research

We all have a pretty good idea who the competition is. But do we really know the competition? What they do? How they do it? What are their strengths and weaknesses compared to yours? When it’s slow, it’s a great time to look at how you are positioned in the marketplace in respect to your competitors.

9. Build And Strengthen Relationships

Imagine having dinner with a client just to share time with them. Or taking a key vendor out to play 18 holes of golf with no hidden agenda. Or maybe it’s a simple hand-written card asking how they are doing. Sometimes, getting to know a professional contact on a personal level can pay off in the long run. Then again, if it doesn’t pay off, the worst thing that could happen is you make a new friend.

10. Office Makeover

Jim has been staring at the same painting outside his office for years. Rhonda’s squeaky chair has gone from mildly annoying to downright infuriating. Toss the painting. Trash the chair. Move the cubicles. Swap offices. It’s a great time to breath some new life into the company. It does not have to be expensive to be impactful.

11. Review Benefits

Ugh. That sounds awful. But it has to be done from time to time. Is there a better healthcare plan for your employees? Can the 401k plan be enhanced a bit more? Is there an opportunity to renegotiate the parking garage rates? There never seems to be a good time to do these things. Until now.

12. Explore New Revenue Streams

We’re starting to see this idea more and more. The law firm that opens a microbrewery. Or the coffee shop that sells those hilarious t-shirts. Maybe there’s something your company can do? A new product line? Another professional service? Open a second location? Who knows, opportunities may be closer than you think.

The moral of the story is we all appreciate a break every now and then. But when things are slow, too much of a break can take a toll on morale, productivity and the bottom line. The key is to use this time responsibly. Gautama Buddha said it best, “To be idle is a short road to death and to be diligent is a way of life; foolish people are idle, wise people are diligent.”

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