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How to Make the Most of Your Slow Period

clock stuck at 3'o'clockFor small businesses, the holidays are often followed by a slow period. It’s tempting to spend this time relaxing (and you can, and should, to a certain extent), but there are ways to maximize your free time to improve business in the future.

Play catch up

The first step is to get your store back into working shape after the tornado that is the holiday season. Stock up on missing inventory, work on the tasks you’ve been putting off, like balancing the checkbook. You may want to do some deep cleaning if the foot traffic through your store was particularly heavy.

Brainstorm the next big thing

Innovation is the name of the game as a small business. Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to focus on that new idea you’ve been turning over in your head. Maybe it’s time to start planning a new location, or a partnership with another local business. It could be as simple as redesigning the patio for the warm season. Whatever it is, it’s not going to make itself happen. Sit down and determine what steps you need to take to make it a success. Stop dreaming and start doing!

Rethink your strategy

A slow period is a good time to reflect on current strategies. Think about the policies and procedures you have in place. Is everything functioning optimally? Determine If there are some areas that could use improvement, from the way you perform inventory to your social media strategy. Is there a platform out there you aren’t using that could bring in new business? Could you place an ad in the local paper? There’s a little bit of strategy in everything your business does, and small changes can yield big results. It could be as simple as making a promise to tweet more often.

Focus on training

Your staff may already be in top shape, but they can always be better. Have a get-together. Talk about how the holiday rush period went and if there were any trends you noticed. Are there any books or resources you can point to that would help them do their jobs better? Take the opportunity to help your team develop. If you’re planning on launching new initiatives, projects, or menu items, now would be the time to make sure your team is ready to roll. Training isn’t just for your employees. You can spruce up on you business skills too. Check out Kabbage’s list of books for business owners, which range from books about leadership to marketing and everything in between.

Build relationships

Small businesses are even more likely to thrive when they can work together. Less time dealing with the ins and outs of the business means more time to network with peers. Take some time to get to know the other businesses in the neighborhood, and considering joining a networking group relevant to your industry. If no group exists, get in touch with some business owners you respect and start something. Use social media, join your local chamber of commerce, or simply go door to door to find like-minded individuals. As a bonus, according to American Business Magazine, customers tend to have a higher opinion of businesses that are involved in their local chamber of commerce.

Find creative ways to boost sales

The slow season doesn’t have to be unproductive. Come up with some ideas to get customers in the door, whether it’s a buy-one-get-one promotion, an event, or pop-up shop. Start a referral or rewards program to encourage your most loyal customers to stop in and see you. After you’ve made some new business contacts, consider planning something together.

Even if sales are down from where they were, a slow period can be a great opportunity to make your business even better. Take advantage of the leisurely pace and come up with some great ideas to increase success.

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