Don’t Dis Your Downtime: What to do during a wavering workload
It’s inevitable. As a solopreneur, especially one in the freelance professional services arena, there will be moments of “feast” and others of “famine”. Generally, the longer you’ve been in business (provided you’re delivering quality service at a fair price), the less you’ll be faced with slow periods. But for entrepreneurs who are still building momentum, it can be scary when projects are wrapping up and there’s not much sitting in wait in the pipeline. In my experience, I’ve found that the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s typically brings a cycle of fewer projects. Being a B2B solopreneur, my workload goes from a sprint to a crawl because of clients’ end-of-year budget constraints and vacation schedules. Sound familiar?
When you’re faced with that situation – the most worthless thing you can do is worry about it. Instead, take the initiative to turn your downtime into a productive professional development period and an opportunity to polish your online image.
What can you do to make “slow” an opportunity to “grow” as a solopreneur?
1. Update your website – Refresh your copy, add new testimonials and samples to your portfolio, upload new images, update your credentials and achievements… Your website should reflect the present, not old material that no longer represents you accurately.
2. Synchronize your profiles on your social networks and online directories – Check your profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Manta, Hot Frog and wherever else you have a presence to make sure you’re delivering a consistent and current message about who you are and what you do.
3. Brainstorm blog post ideas – Use your powers of ideation to arrive at some solid topics and use your new-found time to flesh out drafts of introductory paragraphs for each.
4. Read – Pick up (or download) one of the must-read books out there about social media marketing. Who knows, by using some of the tips and tactics, you might find this is the last time you’ll have any downtime to read another one!
5. Give some new technology tools a try or get better at using them – Oh boy, do I have a few on my own personal list! TweetDeck, Evernote, BufferApp…In no way do I use them to their full extent. Surely, untapped efficiencies are there for the taking with just a little more time and effort on my part. What’s on your list?
6. Cross-connect with the professionals in your social media networks – Which LinkedIn connections have Twitter accounts, Facebook Business Pages, and Google Plus Pages? The more places you connect, the more opportunities you have for staying top of mind.
7. Reflect – Take some time to think about your own professional strengths and weaknesses. What are you most proficient at? What essential skills and knowledge do you lack? What impact do those things have on your business – and to what degree? Seek out and use technology tools, workshops, webinars, books, blogs, or other professionals who can help you enhance your talents and enable you to compensate for where you might be falling short.
However you decide to spend your limited-time project downtime, don’t dis it by ignoring the developmental and “catch up” opportunities it affords you. By taking the initiative to achieve even when work is slow, you’ll position yourself and your business for even greater success when the slump has passed.
Do you experience any seasonal slow periods in your business?
How do you make your downtime productive?