I’ve noticed a cycle of seasons, some where I am fully booked and other times that generally tend to be less busy.  The fall always greets me with an increased workload as many clients want to launch or relaunch at the top of the new year. Summer months can be a little slower as we work around vacation schedules and other commitments. Then there are years where strange things happen that are totally beyond our control – a recession or an industry shake up that can impact projects.

It would be great if business was always steady, but the reality is you’ll probably have super busy seasons or months, and times that things are much slower. It’s one of the biggest challenges small business owners face – one month you are busting at the seams with work, the next, you’re waiting for someone (anyone) to call.  If you are used to a steady schedule and then all of a sudden business is at a slow down, here are some tips to stay productive.

Take a class
Is there a business or technical skill you have been wanting to learn? If your workload is lighter, consider taking a class. You can explore taking a class or workshop from a local college, a continuing education school, or better yet, an online service. I love Skillshare, Udemy and Skillcrush for easy to follow and relevant online classes. These site all provide classes that are affordable, and offer a convenient way to get a new skill. Learning a new skill may allow you to offer additional services or refine your current offerings.

Get organized
If you feel like you are flying by the seat of your pants when your workload is heavy, take some time to get organized when things slow down. Think back on your workflow, figure out what documents and processes might make working with clients or running your business more efficient.  Some of the things that you may want to organize include:

Work on an info product
Ever considered launching a product of your own? If business is slow, now may be a great time to give it a go. You can write an ebook, create an online class, make an informative video series or even launch an online community. Looking for a great plan to get started? Check out this series from Melyssa Griffin on launching an online product.

Look back at strategic goals
If you are feeling like you aren’t sure what to do next, it may be a good time to pull out your business plan (or any strategic planning documents you have created) for review. Many times we’ve already written down action items that may help when business is slow. There have been so many time I actually created notes and plans with new marketing ideas, only to put them away and forget about them. If you don’t have a business plan or you are not sure where to start? Download my mini business planner to capture ideas and goals.

Look into partnerships
Sometimes two heads are better than one. If business is slow, consider finding a strategic partner. This may be another business owner that offers services that are complementary to those that you offer. You can do joint workshops, create marketing initiatives together or cross refer potential clients to each other. Look for partners that may have a similar customer base as yours but need different services.

Get ahead on email marketing
If you send out emails to your clients or list, take advantage of downtime by planning and writing all your upcoming emails in advance. Once  you get busy again, you will already have your emails created and ready to go.

There are so many inspirational and how-to books on my radar I miss when I am busy. So when things get slower, I find it’s a great way to a few minutes to reading things that are relevant to my business. Looking for some titles? Check out my reading list. You never know what you will read that will inspire your next big project.

Business is always cyclical. Taking advantage of lulls and slow downs can help prepare you for the future.