10 ideas to finding opportunities during business downtime

Downtime can be scary. No business wants downtime. Yet, for better or for worse, you’ll likely find yourself facing a slow day, week, or, as many businesses know all too well as of late, month or even year. While you can plan for some business lulls – such as holidays when most of your clients are out of town, you can’t plan for all of them.

What’s important is how you handle your down time. Do you twiddle your thumbs when things are slow? Spend hours on Facebook with one eye on the clock? Take the time to catch up on some of your favorite TV shows online?

OR, do you look at these less-than-ideal slowdowns as an opportunity? I humbly suggest you go this route, and I’ll tell you how.

First, you’ll want to create a simple Downtime Plan of Action. This can be as easy as typing up a bulleted list of things you need to do for yourself or your business but can never find the time for.

Here are 10 easy-to-use suggestions to get the ball rolling:

  1. Conduct a competitor analysis. Identify your top five competitors and do some research on them. What are their strengths and weaknesses? What do you do better than them? What should you be doing better than them? How does their media coverage compare to yours? How does their website compare to yours? Are there things you can do to better compete?
  2. Develop new business. Call up your local chamber or other professional organization and ask if you can serve as speaker for an upcoming workshop. Network. Reach out to business leads.
  3. Build a stockpile of blogs or articles. You know you need to publish blog and article content regularly. Publishing new, fresh information related to your industry positions you as an industry expert and also creates valuable backlinks that increase your search engine optimization. When times are slow, write some new content that can be published at a later, busier, date.
  4. Choose something in your industry that you’d like to know more about but haven’t found the time to really learn. There are a number of great, and free, webinars and training programs available to you if you’re interested in gaining a competitive edge.
  5. Update your website. Go through your site page by page and target the items that need to be updated. Are your most recent honors and awards listed? Are your bios up to date? Have you launched any new products or services that haven’t made their way onto your site?
  6. Ramp up your marketing efforts. It’s going to be mighty difficult to attract new business if no one knows you exist. Slow times are the best times to spend some marketing dollars.
  7. Do something nice for your clients or customers to show your appreciate them.
  8. Come up with new ideas for your clients or customers. (Although this is an effort you should be doing on their behalf anyhow.)
  9. Organize your paperwork. When tax time comes around, do you literally spend days on end organizing and hunting for all those loose pieces of paper you know you put … somewhere? Take the time to create a more efficient filing system. You can literally save yourself hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars by ensuring your tax documents are in order.
  10. Create a more efficient work environment for yourself. This can be as simple as de-cluttering your desk, office or e-mail Inbox or as complex as replacing systems that aren’t living up to standards.

There are many more things you can do during a slow period, but the above ideas should be enough to get you started.

Melissa Rothermel serves as Director of Media Relations for Imagine Marketing.
E-mail Melissa at mrothermel@imnv.com.

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