Running an internet home-based business provides unique
challenges. You may have to stretch your funds to last a
year when you are only bringing in cash for six months or
nine months. Summer is usually a slow time, but the winter
holiday time can be too.
You must learn to prepare for the busy seasons and figure
out how best to use your slow season to your business's
advantage. And finally, you have to mentally prepare
yourself for the rough times, even though you may not know
when they will strike.
I've learned a few money survival strategies over my years
of self-employment. The most important is to live within
your means. This means not spending big when you're making
big money, only to fall back on using a credit card during
the lean times.
Live frugally when you're first starting out, defer
spending, buy used, barter when possible, until you are able
to roughly estimate a year's income, then spend according to
an annual budget and save during the boom times.
Pessimism will usually get you pessimistic results. A
positive outlook generates enthusiasm. The first impulse is
always to cut back on spending when business is slow. It's
important to not slip into a downward spiral of spending
cutbacks alone, because this will weaken your organization.
The weakest entrepreneurs wish and pray for better days
while making no lasting change. The strongest use the
situation as a catalyst to create long-term change that will
support growth well into the future. So don't dwell on your
lack of sales; continually focus on new products, new
technology or bettering your relationships with your
The weakest entrepreneurs reduce prices without a reduction
in costs. When price reductions don’t work, deep cuts are
made in business expenses to keep the business afloat. What
are usually the first to go are customer service and
marketing. Unless this cycle is broken, companies may get
caught in a downward spiral of repeated price cutting and
The strongest entrepreneurs simultaneously reduce costs and
improve the process, becoming more efficient and improving
the product. This is the time to automate your follow-ups,
begin a newsletter, write or update that ebook, actions
that support both the short-term goal of survival and the
long term goals of strength and growth.
Creating something new will deliver MORE value to your
customer, and this value will further differentiate you from
your competition. In other words, if ANYONE is going to
buy during this slow period, they will be buying from YOU
because you offer them the best value for their money.
Slow times are also a great opportunity to:
- Revise Your Business Plan:
Re-examine your markets, marketing techniques and maybe even
your website -- and document your future course.
- Design a Survey:
Ask your website visitors questions about how satisfied
they’ve been doing business with you, and ask them to offer
at least one suggestion for how you could improve your
product, service or customer service. You should offer those
who fill out the survey a free gift.
- Write Articles or a Book:
Regardless of what business you're in, you want to be known
as the expert in what you do. Once you become an author,
people will assume you must know what you're talking about.
Building your reputation is a perfect downtime activity.
- Educate Yourself:
Now's the time to catch up on all those ebooks you've been
filing away, or visit your library and borrow that
bestseller you've been wanting to read. Maybe there's a
seminar you've been dying to attend...go!
- Take Time for Yourself:
Play catch-up--or don't. Straighten up your desk, organize
your files, read, or don't! Remember why you went into
business in the first place?
- Enjoy your family and friends, rest up, exercise more or
spend time on a hobby.
Take a vacation, even if all that means is turning the computer off for a couple days a week.
- Strengthen Client Relationships:
Email people you already know, brainstorm, commiserate on
lack of sales. You'll feel better, re-energized.
- Branch Out:
If you enjoy writing, offer your services as a copywriter or
editor, for example. If you find that summers are always
slow, then find a part-time job. This bit of socializing
is just the ticket for curing the isolation blahs that can
set in when you work by yourself day after day, month after
One theory of seasonal slumps is that there are none--only
"a lack of creativity." A person who feels they have a
slump should look at it from a different angle or find a
niche they haven't reviewed before.
Just think and play with ideas. Study and read a lot of
publications outside your category so you're familiar with
what's going on in other industries.
So yes, there really is an upside to your down-times when
you are working at home. After all, this is what being your
own boss is really all about, having the flexibility to
choose your own business style and hours.
You can either diversify and stay busy year-round, or work
your tail off during the busy times and make enough money to
relax and do what you want during the low times.
Remember to take the time to enjoy those benefits you wanted
when you started this business: freedom, family, friends,
About the author:
Glenn Beach is a poet, writer and home business entrepreneur
in Nova Scotia, Canada. Free newsletter, more articles, and
business start-up info at:
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