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Stay productive with these smart tips.

Regardless of your business type or industry, you’ve probably experienced a pattern of ebbs and flows. When things are busy, it seems like there isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish it all. Yet as soon as things slow down, you may spend your time worrying if business will pick up again.

Even during your slower seasons, your time and talents are valuable commodities, and there are several things you can do to keep propelling your business forward. Consider tackling the following: 

  1. Take some time for yourself: Owning a business is a way of life, and for many business owners, free time is a rare occurrence. If you’ve hit a work lull, view it as an opportunity to take some personal time and establish a better work-life balance. If you can take a few days off, go for it — even a brief vacation can help you unwind, recharge, and return with a renewed sense of energy and inspiration to put back into your business.
     
  2. Think about your products or services in a new way: Slow spells can give you some time to analyze your business and brainstorm new ideas. Have your customers’ needs changed — and is your product or service meeting those needs? Could your company play a role in another industry? Is there a way the product or service you offer can meet seasonal demands? Are there any related products you can provide?
     
  3. Consider chatting with some of your regular customers and suppliers to get a fresh perspective. In addition, take a fresh look at your competition, and read industry magazines and newsletters online and in print to stay current on business trends that can impact your offering or approach. 

  4. Work on your website: If you’re like many small business owners, this project is already on your to-do list. If you need to create, redo or refresh your site, now’s the time! Use these 6 tips to guide you through the design and management process. Consider hiring a freelance developer (you’ll pay, on average, $30–$32 an hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) or offering to provide products or services to a web developer or designer in exchange for their work. Have a company blog? It’s a good opportunity to research and write a few entries (you’ll be happy to have them when business picks up). If you’re struggling to find a steady audience, Small Business Trends’ tips can help you use your blog to connect with and engage customers.
     
  5. Build your social media presence: Nearly 40 percent of small businesses spend between six to more than 21 hours on social media each week, according to a survey from VerticalResponse. A business lull can be a great time to boost the frequency of your posts on Facebook, Twitter and other social sites — which will help you showcase your industry expertise, stay on your customers’ radar, and promote your products or services. Ready to get started? Follow these 6 tips to maximize your social media ROI.
     
  6. Learn new skills: Brush up on your business know-how or add to it by attending a conference, workshop, or online or in-person course at a local college, library or other institution. Find out how you can take advantage of continuing education options for small business owners — many of which are offered for free.
     
  7. Talk to your customers and suppliers: Customer and supplier relationship management is a key part of any successful business. A slow business period can provide an opportunity to reach out to current and prospective contacts to do some relationship building and brainstorming. Your initial communication could be as simple as an email or social media post — but be sure to get in touch so you stay top of mind.
     
  8. Get busy networking: Whether you’re a relatively new entrepreneur or a seasoned pro, it’s always a good idea to keep up your networking. Now that you have the time, consider the following:
     
    • Send a few thoughtful thank-you notes.
    • Meet up with old contacts, peers and mentors.
    • Seek advice from other professionals or business coaches.
    • Look into conferences, events and trade shows where you can learn something new while building your business.
       

    Struggling to get started? Check out these no-fail networking tips for ideas. 

  9. Evaluate your marketing plan: Perhaps you have ads running in a local paper, radio station or online. Regardless of whether or not you currently have a strong marketing platform in place, now is a good time to reevaluate how you promote and market your business across all channels. This would also be a good time to extend a special offer to customers to try and generate more sales. For more advice, find out how to make your marketing dollars work as hard as you do.
     
  10. Looking to make a public relations splash? Contributing an original article to a business trade publication or distributing press releases can also help market your work. Use tips from the National Federation of Independent Business® to learn how to craft an effective press release and check out these websites on Mashable that can distribute your release for free

  11. Get organized: Whether it’s filing receipts for tax season, taking care of accounting tasks or decluttering your office space, take advantage of the down time to organize your business. By de-cluttering both your mental and physical space, you’ll be better able to focus.
     

 

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