I meet many people whose businesses who go through 'feast
and famine'. They lurch from too much work and no time to sleep, to no work and
no money. It's a stressful way to run a business, often leading to failure
This issue of Scribbles was written on a canal boat, when I'd
spent a few days watching the world drift past at 4mph, while my business
carried on without me. In it I'll share with you some tips to get you off the 'feast and famine' roller coaster and closer to your next holiday!
Is Your Business Stuck in Feast and Famine?
If you run your own business, feast and famine is something you'll experience at some point in the life of your company. One month you have so much work you don't know how to get it all done. But you don't dare turn it away, as you don't know when the next job will come in. So you keep working really hard, without much sleep, no time to go to regular networking meetings and certainly no time for a holiday. Because you're tired, you start to miss deadlines. But you keep working, thinking that you'll find time to do things like sleeping and marketing when it gets quieter.
Because it does eventually get quieter. The big projects finish ... and suddenly you realise that you're not busy. In fact, there's little work on the horizon, but you've got more time, so you go to lots of networking meetings, send out loads of letters and make plenty of phone calls. And it works! The new clients turn up and you start to get busier ... and even busier ... until you have so much work you don't know how you’re going to fit it all in. Sound familiar?
So how do you get off the feast and famine roller coaster? Here are a few ideas for you.
Where are you going? Now is a great time to think about where you want to take your business next year. Write down goals you want to achieve by the end of 2013 – turnover, number of new clients, members of staff – and anything else that inspires you. Once you have your annual goals you can break them down into manageable monthly ones. At Appletree we have an annual turnover goal for this financial year, which we've turned into achievable monthly turnover targets.
To move your business forward, decide where you're going. Then you can make sure any new work you take on and any marketing you do will actually move you towards your goal.
Who are you ideal clients? Most people have taken on clients who are far from ideal. You think you need to do any work that comes your way, as you don’t know where the next pay cheque will come from. However, non-ideal clients will want the work done really quickly, or for less money that you want to charge. They will complain that it’s not good enough, take ages to pay and then never recommend you. To avoid this, think about who you really want to work with. What are their positive attributes – what makes them nice people to work with? What makes them tick – what gets them out of bed in the morning and what do they want to achieve in their lives? The trick is to find people who share your beliefs and values, because when you do, you’ll find people who want to pay you what you’re worth and who will recommend you. No more rushed deadlines; and less to spend on marketing as the referrals flood in.
Find out what works ... and do more of it. How do you know what works? Measure all your marketing! How many hits does your website get and from what sources? How many prospects do you meet networking and what’s your conversion rate? Who gives you the most recommendations? When you measure your marketing, you can take your resources away from activities that don’t work and put them into those that do.
Setting goals, identifying your ideal clients and measuring your marketing are three important elements of a Marketing Plan. When you pull all the elements together, you’ll find it much easier to get off the feast and famine roller coaster – and stay off it, so you can plan your next holiday!