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How to put the small business slow times to best use

If you’re in professional services or a city-based coffee pitstop, you know to expect tumbleweeds blowing through your workplace from mid-December. So what’s the best way to ensure this time of year isn’t a revenue-free waste?

According to new Prospa research, for 28% of small business owners, the end of year period is a quiet time for business.

But just as a farmer always has a fence post to fix, so too does a small business owner always have an overdue task to tick off.

“This period of time is definitely an opportunity for us,” explains Sydney-based Lisa Hayes, owner of All in All Parties, a children’s party planning business.

“It’s important as it allows us to refresh and get ready to take on the next round of parties.”

Successful business owners usually use this period three ways: to catch up, plan ahead or to rest and recharge.

Catch up and review

Joe Daley, who co-owns AJ Insurance Services in Western Sydney with wife Amanda Daley, says his business usually uses the quiet holiday period to catch up on paperwork and complete file audits on customer correspondence.

“We also complete risk reviews of our customers’ insurance programs, looking at their exposures unconsidered and the like. We aim to start from scratch at the start of the new year essentially,” says Daley.

Hayes meanwhile likes to review areas where her business could improve in the year ahead.

“We use the down-time to look over the last term and look into what could be done better,” she says.

Planning ahead

Once Daley has caught up on the year that’s just been, he starts planning on the year ahead.

“The biggest benefit of the holiday period is the organisation time,” says Daley.

“We are able to put a plan in place for marketing, streamline processes, and improve our pipeline for new business and renewals.”

Likewise, Hayes uses the time to research what her business can do better going forward and evaluate how it’s stacking up against competitors.

“We use the down-time to look at new party trends and where we’re placed in the market,” Hayes adds.

“It also gives us a chance to work on our marketing strategy and refresh themes for the new year.”

Take a break

Last but certainly not least, don’t forget it’s the summer holidays.

It’s crucial to take the opportunity to rest, recharge and spend time with the family, says Brisbane-based Azaria Cohen, who keeps incredibly busy throughout the year with two small businesses: Go Bars and Classic Car Hire and Tranquil Kids Yoga.

“Have some down-time. By spending a bit of family time, I become a happier, healthier person when I come back for the new year,” says Cohen, who admits she also sneaks in a bit of work on her website and other admin during this period.

And, finally, don’t forget to encourage your staff to rest up as much as possible too – that means no emails, calls or bothering them on their break.

“I keep everything ticking over,” says Daley, “This allows our staff to come back fresh and firing after New Year’s to have a really productive time.”

A little more inspo

Here are five more ways you could put the upcoming quiet holiday period to good use:

  1. Spring clean, fumigate, renovate or even move your premises.
  2. Surprise your favourite clients with a festive season card and/or gift.
  3. Look into processes you could outsource or automate in the year ahead (e.g. invoicing, payment systems, etc).
  4. Update your website, business cards, signage or any other promotional marketing materials.
  5. Ask clients for testimonials or write up some case studies.

If you’re worrying about cash flow during the EOY down-time, talk to a Prospa small business lending specialist about how a line of credit could help. Call us on 1300 220 215.

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The information in this post is provided for general information only and does not take into account your personal situation. Nothing contained in this post constitutes advice or an endorsement or recommendation of any kind by Prospa. Any links to third party websites are strictly for informational purposes only. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from financial, legal and taxation advisors. Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of the information as at the date of publication, Prospa, its officers, employees and agents disclaim all liability (except for any liability which by law cannot be excluded), for any error, inaccuracy, or omission from the information for any reason, including due to the passage of time, or any loss or damage suffered by any person directly or indirectly through relying on this information.

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