By J.J. Long
(Image credit: Pexels.com)
As creative entrepreneurs we’ve all been there. Business is going great, sales are steady, freelance work is consistent, and then all of a sudden we hit a bump in the road where sales might drop off the deep end, customers/gigs stop knocking on our doors, and we lose the momentum we once had. It hurts, it’s depressing, and some of us might even consider throwing in the towel because we can’t deal with the ups and downs of an inconsistent paycheck.
Being an entrepreneur is definitely a roller coaster ride for a multitude of reasons, but when the money stops coming in, we tend to get worried and can start making drastic choices that could cripple our already fragile businesses. Today I’d like to give you 3 Tips on how to “weather the storm” so to speak when you hit these slow months and how to keep a positive outlook on things when so many of us might fall into depression or want to call it quits.
1. Prepare For The Slow Months
Anticipating that you’re ultimately going to have slow months as an entrepreneur is the first step towards solving this issue. When we first decide that we’re going to become self-employed or start up a company, the energy is usually electric. Working for yourself is something new and exciting and we can feel unstoppable in the beginning. I do believe in optimism and wishful thinking, but the reality is that more than likely you’re going to have some slow months in your business, and you want to be prepared for when this happens. Even Apple and Disney have slow days, so try to be humble and understand this is just part of the process of being a business owner.
If you know when your slow months are approaching, like maybe your company is a bit slower in the summer season, etc., than that’s even better! By having this knowledge ahead of time, you can adequately prepare for this and you can still survive and get by during these slow times.
A lot of entrepreneurs, when they have a great month of sales, instead of anticipating slow months ahead and putting money aside in an emergency fund, they tend to overspend and celebrate with their spoils, most likely because they’ve been deprived of income for so long and they feel like they deserve a little splurge (believe me, I’m guilty of this as well).
Immediate gratification feels great, but when you do this, you’re ultimately hurting yourself down the road. If you can slowly build up a little bit of a cushion during the peak months, then you can survive off of that cushion during the slow months. I know this might be a difficult habit to develop at first, but start off with something small, like put aside 5% of your sales and watch that grow over time. Sometimes just having that extra $200 in the bank account can go far during a slow month, especially if it’s the difference between paying rent or not.
(Image credit: Pexels.com)
2. Learn How To Be Frugal
Contrary to popular belief, being frugal doesn’t mean being cheap. Cheap people focus on spending less money and tend to sacrifice quality when it comes to their purchases. Frugal people prioritize their spending in alignment with their dreams/goals and put value and quality over price. Frugal people are also very resourceful when it comes to their spending.
An example of a cheap person would be someone that spends copious amounts of time cutting coupons out of the grocery store flyer because they are more concerned about saving a few dollars, even if it’s on items that they don’t necessarily need at that moment. The bottom line for them is saving money. A frugal person also likes to save money, but when they go to the grocery store, they still buy the products they want.
A frugal person tends to spend less money on the things that they don’t care too much about, but is willing to spend more money on the things they value the most. For example, a frugal person might buy the store brand aluminum foil because it’s the cheapest and they can’t justify spending more money on an item that seems to function the same across different brands, but when it comes to their favorite brand of coffee, they will always go for the Folgers because it tastes the best to them and it’s an important part of their morning wake up routine.
The reason I bring up frugality when it comes to your creative business is because this is a great skill to apply when you’re in a slump or going through a slow month of income. Maybe instead of buying a bulk order of paints or canvases for your painting business that would normally save you money over the long term, you might buy just what you need to get through the month and you might be able to shave off say $50 off of your typical monthly expenses.
Maybe instead of doing $40 worth of paid Facebook ads for your business that month, you can drop the price down to $20 a month. And even in your personal life, maybe instead of hitting up Starbucks every day, you can make your coffee at home and bring a travel mug. Or now would be a great time to finally get rid of that gym membership that you’re not using so you can save another $65 per month, and just decide to workout in your living room or start to pick up jogging outside. There are many ways to be resourceful and frugal, you just need to think outside the box a bit.
3. Focus on Sales Driven Behavior
If you find yourself in an unexpected slump, the number one thing that you should be trying to do is generate sales and find resourceful ways on how to make money as fast as possible. When I say sales driven behavior, I don’t mean spending time to polish the website, work on a training manual for your employees, or plan the company picnic. If you’re in a slow month and it looks like no sales are in sight, you need to do everything possible to generate money NOW!
Some quick ideas to generate immediate cash might be to launch an impromptu sale on one of your products or services. Maybe you can finally offer that loyal customer discount you’ve been thinking of doing and that might spike some sales. Or maybe start up a referral program which could help generate some more leads and sales. Another idea is to start massively doing outreach to new customers with an aggressive email campaign.
They key here is to not increase expenses at all, crossing your fingers hoping that just investing a little bit more money will increase your chances of making more money. That is a gamble and not something you should really depend on. When sales are non- existent, you need to focus on getting into the positive, not more into the negative. Stick to the tactics that have worked for you in the past and those that you can rely on.
To Wrap Up
Slow months are inevitable as creative entrepreneurs. It’s better to be prepared for the storm that we can’t see yet rather than to be swept away by the chaos when it arrives. Being frugal is not the same as being cheap, and it pays to be resourceful during difficult times. Lastly, if you find yourself unexpectedly caught in a slow month, throw out the fluff tasks and really buckle down and focus on sales driven behavior that will bring in money immediately.
What are some strategies that you all have used to get through the slow months? We’ve all been there and I’d love to hear your ideas. To leave a comment, click on the blue “comments” link underneath the facebook and twitter buttons where you can leave a reply. Thanks for tuning in friends!
J.J. Long is the founder and CEO of JJArtworks. J.J. has been professionally painting, singing, acting, writing, teaching, and doing voiceovers for over 13 years. The purpose of our blog is to help artists thrive in their own businesses by sharing valuable and sincere content.