4 Things to Do if Business is Slow & Money is Tight
The Kate Show | Episode 85
Whether you're a new interior designer, home stager, or workroom owner...or you've been in business for decades, you may find a time when your business is *crickets.* No projects on the horizon, no leads coming in.... And you might start to worry. However, worry is not a good revenue generator and also tends to kill any creativity left in your brain. The decisions any of us make from this mindset tend to be regrettable. To avoid regrets and, ideally, to avoid the "famine" entirely, I'm sharing specific actions you can take to prevent, end, or recover from a dip in business.
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4 Things to Do if Business is Slow & Money is Tight
First, keep your business situation in perspective and figure out why you have a lack of new leads or projects. Did you forget to market your business during your busy season to plan for and potentially prevent the famine? It happens. Don't beat yourself up about it...and make sure you don't repeat that mistake. While it is human to be forgetful, that type of forgetfulness can ultimately ruin a business if it keeps happening.
I occasionally speak with home professionals who say they've never had to market their business because, from day one, they've had plenty of referrals - until they don't anymore. While this is a great way to launch a business, it is not a strategy for long term growth. Having never marketed themselves before and having now found themselves in a time of famine shows a lack of preparation. Ride the waves of your referrals, but don't forget that you still need to steer your ship and chart a course to follow.
Second, don't let your current state of affairs destroy your personal life. As business owners, we tend to tie our self-confidence to the level of business success we have reached. That's unfair to yourself and your family, as business is always changing. Remember who you are apart from being a business owner. A business that has hit a bumpy path doesn't indicate that the business owner is lacking intelligence as a person.
Third, be realistic about any changes in your local or national economy that could be affecting your sales. You can't control the political climate or the economy, but you can control your marketing and your service offerings. Focus on what you CAN control and don't dwell on the rest. Fortunately, there are four significant areas you can control: Your business focus, your partners, referral sources, and mindset.
1) Refocus your business services and marketing; if sales are slow, there is a reason.
Refine your ideal client
Remove any parts of your website that don't speak to that ideal client
Remove any services you currently offer that don't sell well or that you don't enjoy providing
Remove any parts of your marketing / branding that look outdated or homemade
Focus on your low-hanging fruit: Services that you enjoy providing, have the lowest level of overhead, and that are the most attainable for your ideal client
Set up a sales funnel for those services
Pro tip: Stop watching your colleagues on social media; social popularity doesn't mean they are as successful as they seem
2) Partner with or assist an overwhelmed colleague
Offer rendering services
Provide workroom assistance
Position yourself as a staging coordinator
Pro tip: There is no shame in letting your network know that you are available to help in lieu of your own projects.
3) Connect with a local vendor, contractor, realtor, or interiors photographer
Work one or two days per week as a consultant at a local paint or decor store that also serves your ideal client
Partner with a local remodeling / new construction contractor and make a short list of the ways your services would benefit them and their clients
Connect with a real estate agent and ask for an introduction to his / her colleagues or clients
Google real estate / interior photographers in your area and set up a referral partnership
Pro tip: Go directly to the collaborator who can refer you many times over vs. the client who can only hire you once and provide limited referrals.
4) Desperation-induced tactics to avoid:
Don't sign any contracts with any advertising, SEO, or marketing companies when you are currently in a state of financial worry; this tends to cloud good judgement.
Avoid joining the discounted service wagon (Havenly, Thumbtack, etc), as you'll only end up with bargain-hunting leads that will further discourage you.
Inactivity; don't wait for new clients to find you. Go find them through the tactics listed above.
Running a business is never going to be easy, but more often that not, it is completely worth it. Use this time to invest time into your business and into yourself as an entrepreneur. Sometimes we are given seasons of slow work and tight budgets to teach us something an MBA never could. Don't waste this opportunity to better yourself, get more organized, understand your finances, and re-assess your marketing.