What do the following products have in common:
Toilet paper, toothpaste, sandwich bread, milk and petrol.
No, this isn’t some twisted riddle (I only do them on Fridays), I’m drawing your attention to the fact that most products and services, and the businesses behind them are not in this group. Unless you are in an industry that provides goods and services used by most people, on most days, chances are that your business has some busy patches, and in between has what I refer to as “rainy day” now and then. This cycle of “feast and famine”, while it can be stressful to adjust to, can actually be a healthy and productive schedule for your business.
How? Well, you can use the quiet days to make yourself a petrol and toilet paper sandwich. Or, if that’s not how you get your kicks, you can do what smart business owners do, and use the downtime to build a better business. The list below might help.
Have you been so run-off-your-feet that your desk looks like a small mine went off? Did Sarah ask you for a file that Jocelyn said Brad maybe filed under “do next year”, which you consequently forgot about it because you didn’t have the necessary excavation devices to extract it? Perhaps your desk and office are pristine, but your emails or electronic files are beyond chaotic? Even if you are a paragon of orderly virtue, chances are that there is someone in the office who is not, and perhaps you could implement your saintly systems throughout the office to ensure no more archaeologists are needed in the future.
When organising your workspace, think of the “real estate” principle.
The space nearest to you is valuable, and should only house your essentials (pens, mouse, etc). A little further away is space for items you’ll need often, but not all the time; in my case this is files I’m working on that day, current reading, etc. Everything else should ideally be stowed away in drawers and cupboards a little further away. If you need to get up to reach it, think of the health benefits of standing up now and then instead of being a constant desk vegetable!
Build Your Online Media Strategy
This usually falls into one of two categories. The first being “so easy that it never gets done properly”, ie: you spend time on facebook, which you are familiar with from personal use, but get distracted and don’t manage to utilise as a business tool. An important point to remember here is that a poorly managed and maintained online presence can be worse than none at all. The other half of business owners tend to be afraid of social media, and put it off or delegate it to someone else – which, by the way is fine, so long as that person has the relevant information and authority.
A quiet period in your business is a great time to plan your social media. Think about who should be responsible for it, how often you will need to engage with it, and how long that should take each time. A bulk–scheduling social media dashboard program can save business owners a lot of time and worry, as it can be used schedule multiple social media posts in advance.
Some questions to ask yourself before you begin implementing Social Media as a tool:
- Which platforms are appropriate for my business?
- Do my customers, and the people I want to attract as customers engage in those platforms?
- What is in it for my audience? (This is important. If you’re going to ask people for their time and participation, they need to receive something in return, whether it’s a discount offer or your expert advice in your field.)
Work on Yourself and Your Team
Downtime gives us the opportunity to engage in training, personal development, team building, reviewing and leadership activities.
Our clients use the quieter parts of their working schedule to consult with their coach, and complete the exercises from their coaching sessions. If you don’t work with someone in this capacity you might find it similarly beneficial to consult with your business partner, a mentor or an outside business consultant or coach. As we often say, “No one of us is as smart as all of us put together”; fresh eyes can be invaluable to business issues. The end of school or university isn’t the end of reading being useful to us, or studying being a tool to produce better results. I’d be willing to bet that whatever your field, there are some great books, articles or blogs out there that could enhance your thinking, and, in turn, your actions. Read them!
Build Strong Foundations
This could include policies, procedures and systems. If your office has low systems, take this opportunity to change that. Productivity, motivation and results are all born from strong systems. A good place to start would be identifying an issue in your workplace which is often associated with the phrases “I should do that”, “Oh, I meant to do that” or “I can’t believe I forgot to do that AGAIN!” **
Another area that is crucial to look at here is your legal position, insurance and hiring policies. Are you as safe as you an be?
If you’ve already covered all of this, and you’ve read every post on this blog, perhaps this is an ideal time to take a holiday and recharge your batteries. That way, when the next busy period arrives you’ll be able to capitalise on it with extra energy.
**This last phrase was censored, in most workplaces it includes content that cannot be disclosed here.