If you're following along, you know we recently talked about Finding work in the slow seasons. We covered 6 important tips that help you prepare for, and stay focused and worry-free through the slow times. Of course, that's not all you can do in the slow seasons of your service business.
The slow season can be the perfect time to rest, relax, reflect, and plan for what's next.
We've talked to some folks who embrace the slow seasons as a time to recharge and prepare for the busy times ahead, and wanted to relay some key pointers they had to share.
1. You make the rules
Most people work a job. They show up to work when they're told, and go home when the boss says it's time. They don't usually get to pick their work schedules—especially not during the holidays or slow times. Most of us have stories to tell about sitting around bored out of our minds on a slow day at work. But when you run a business, you decide what to do with the slow times.
What you do during the slow seasons is entirely up to you.
When there are more jobs than you can handle, you do whatever it takes to take on as much work as you can. If you're in the habit of preparing for the slow seasons, you do this on purpose—you work hardest when the jobs are there, because you know the slow season is coming. And when the slow season hits, if you're well-prepared, you can use the time for much more than scrambling around desperately looking for work.
2. You need a vacation
You can only push yourself so hard for so long before you're going to wear yourself out. This is especially true for service businesses, because your jobs are often manual work with your hands, legs, and back, for long hours, with few breaks. Do you take jobs on the weekends because they're there, and it's hard to say no to earning extra income? If you're like many service providers, you probably do.
It's good to take a break. You've worked hard to grow your business and get jobs done. Don't forget to take time to enjoy it.
The slow seasons offer the perfect time to plan a vacation for yourself or your family. When the jobs slow down, you aren't giving up as much as you might when taking a vacation during the busy months. You naturally have less on your plate when there are fewer jobs to be done, and you can be more choosy about when to schedule the jobs you have. You might find that you can pack a few jobs into one week, and spend the next week relaxing—even if it's just relaxing at home, or catching up on projects around the house. You don't have to leave town if that's not your thing, but you do need time to rest and recharge after working hard for months.
3. Take stock of the year so far
Oftentimes, when you're overbooked and overworked, you don't have the time to spare to take a look into the state of your business and make sure it's healthy and running well. The state of your business in the busy times is just that—busy. It can be easy to lose track of simple things like checking in on past customers, offering services to people you've had to decline jobs for because your schedule was too packed, or even just making sure the checkbook is balanced and all your tools, supplies, and equipment are in good shape.
The slow season offers the perfect time to take a breath and take a look at how you've been doing as a business.
It's important to know that you've earned and saved enough, to maintain or repair and replace worn out tools, and to have time to look ahead. When things are slow, it's much easier to look at what you've been doing during the busy time, see how you feel about your work, and maybe even reflect on services you might not want to offer anymore—or think up a few new ones that you'd like to try out.
4. Plan for the year ahead
The most important skill you can learn is planning where to take your business next. You can't do this if you never take the time to think through it.
The slow season is a great time to think about what you'd like to be doing in the busy times ahead.
You can use the slow seasons to check in with past customers and talk with them about some repeat business. You can take a look at your rates and expenses, and double-check that you're charging enough for the work your doing. There's nothing worse than realizing your rates are too low. The slow seasons give you an opportunity to see how much you've made in the busy time that just ended, and make plans for the busy times that are coming up. You could even make a small bump in your rates to either free yourself to take on fewer jobs, or to save more on each job for the next slow season.
5. Avoid stress
The worst thing to let happen during the slow seasons is to get stressed out about jobs, money, or what you're going to do next.
You should embrace the slow times as your time. Make sure you aren't getting overwhelmed by all the responsibilities and the million different things you have to do as a service business owner.
If you're prepared for the slow season before it arrives, you'll find that you won't be stressed out about money or jobs. If you know that slow seasons happen, you can better avoid feeling worried about it when it sets in. You'll take it in stride, and find yourself excited about the jobs that pop up—rather than feeling stressed about how you'll fit it into your already packed schedule so you don't have to pass on the job.
You own this business. Make it what you want it to be.
The most frequent thing we've heard from folks running their own service-based business is that they love being their own boss, setting their own hours, and take pride in all that they accomplish. Sometimes, embracing the slow season helps remind them that they're the boss, and gives them much-needed time to rest, recharge, and take stock of where they've been and where they want to go next.
Your business is what you make of it. Invest your time wisely, and always take time to see how you're doing, and reward yourself for jobs well done.
We'd love to hear from you about what you do to embrace the slow seasons.