Every person who runs a small business knows it takes fortitude. Starting and running a business is not for the faint of heart. To the uninitiated, running a successful business looks easy, just like watching the Olympic gymnasts do flip after flip on the floor exercise. So many people armchair quarterback it and think — I could have done that — yea, I had that idea, too. But every business owner knows that their success only came after a lot of false starts, ‘learning experiences’ and most importantly, perseverance.
There are a number of issues that threaten your success as a small business owner. One of the biggest issues is getting clients in the door on a regular basis. When the (literal or proverbial) cash register stops ringing, the anxiety stop watch often begins. You start wondering when business is going to pick up. You start watching the door and/or the phone. You wonder if people are going to return, or if it’s over.
On one hand, you have to stay on your toes when you’re running a business — and a lull is a great opportunity to evaluate your business. You, of course, never want to get too confident and miss the fact that you’ve lost your edge — because that is a tough way to go. So a lull is the perfect time to research your competition and look at the latest trends. You should take a look at your competitor’s websites and make sure that yours is up to date. Also consider investing in marketing — are you using Facebook? Is your competition? A lull is the chance to get active with things that you have been unable to get to — so take advantage of the time and work to generate your next harvest. Just like a farmer, for every business, there is a growing and a planting season.
It is also important to have the right kind of support so that you don’t lose your mind during these lulls. The stress of worrying about whether or not you are going to be able to keep your doors open or lose everything you’ve invested can be soul-killing, and can cause a lot of unnecessary strife. Make sure that you have stress-relieving activities lined up (sports, walking the dog, playing with your kids, video games — whatever!) to keep yourself busy, and although it can seem counter-intuitive — a lull is a great time to treat yourself to things you never have a chance to do when you are busy. If you combine weekend vacation with a blank book that you can fill with notes and inspirations — you may find that it will pay off big time for your business. Keeping your mind open to new ideas is what will fuel your business for years to come.
There are a lot of opportunities these days to network with other small businesses — both online and off — which you can also take advantage of in a lull. Web.com is actually sponsoring small business forums all over the country starting in Boise next Tuesday — and there are many additional opportunities to get out and talk to other small businesses. Taking a little time to network can be so helpful — it is important to both have support in your community and to be around other people who are experiencing the same kind of pressures that you are . . . so you have support.
Lastly, make sure that when you experience the lulls that you maintain a positive attitude. Successful business owners will tell you that they never gave up — they kept a positive attitude and focused on success under every circumstance. There are many forms of support for keeping yourself ‘up’ and motivated: your local book store probably sells some great audio books on the habits of successful people, how to stay maintain a positive outlook and more. It is easy to listen to these in your car on the way to the office, or while driving around town, and they can really change your day.
Whatever you do during a lull — don’t give in to stress — stay positive, get active, network and market — and you’ll be on the road to a more successful small business and a healthier you!