January 14, 2014 101 comments

40 Things to Do When Business is Slow (to help grow your business)

by Regina

What to do when business is slow to help grow your business

P.S. Pin or bookmark this list, and any time you’re sitting around this year with “nothing to do” for your small business, or wondering how you can grow your business, read this list.

1. Send some handwritten notecards to clients.

Thank them, inspire them, give them some free business ideas or tips. You know … be amazing. It’s #TYTN (The Year of the Notecard) after all. Your clients will remember how much they like you and may hire you for something new.

2. Write an actual business plan.

Be honest; you never did one, and that’s okay. Just do it now. Even if it’s only a few pages. Check out my blog business plan template (if your business is a blog) or download this free Business Plan Workbook to get started.

3. Take an online class, or a cool small business class in your city.

Skillshare is highly recommended for online classes.

4. Round up some testimonials or tweet testimonials from your favorite clients.

Send out a sweet email asking for reviews, or search your business name and Twitter handle using Twitter Search, and see what people have been saying about you. Did you know you can embed any tweet in your website? Simply click “More” on the Tweet you want to embed, then select “Embed Tweet,” then copy the code that pops up and place it on a Praise or Testimonial page of your website. Bam. You have some instant irrefutable praise (in terms of the source) for your business.

How to embed a tweet

5. Revamp your website a bit.

Is it time for updated sidebars, buttons, colors? Do you need to add more valuable links within your posts to direct your visitors to your additional helpful content and other sources around the web? Does your website/blog have these 12 items? They will help you look like a pro.

6. Check in on past clients via email.

If you really don’t want to be a part of #TYTN (#1 on this list), then send past clients some emails and ask them how the _____ you made for them last year is doing. Do they have questions? Suggestions? They may want to hire you for a new project, and they’ll definitely be grateful you care enough to check in on them and answer any questions they may have.

7. Create a marketing planner that breaks down your key promotions into weekly & monthly tasks.

Here’s a free marketing planner I made for you.
Marketing Planner

8. Plan out your next blog post; try a style of post you’ve never written before.

You do have a blog right? Because if not, read this post on the benefits of a blog for your business. Also, if you’re at a loss for what type of post to create, try one of these 51 types of blog posts.

9. Identify three areas of life/business where you can start saving money.

& thus have more money available for important business needs. Can you give up cable for a while? Find a less expensive phone plan? Look for better car insurance rates? Or, perhaps … get ready for this one … live without Starbucks for a month and make coffee at home? If you want some more cleanse ideas, here is a 30-day creative business cleanse for you.

10. Buy yourself or a client an inexpensive small business gift.

Great for encouragement and inspiration. Here are some suggestions of great, useful & fun gifts for entrepreneurs.

11. Get new business cards.

If you’ve updated your logo, website url, social media profiles or any information on your business card, it’s time to order new ones.
Great business card printers: MoxyOx, MOO (you can get 10% off your first order with that link-yay!), and GotPrint
Awesome business card designer (my friend over @): Jon King Design or BMays

12. Get yourself a good book on business, social media, etc.

I own every one of these books (except the last two that I want to purchase soon), and I highly recommend them. Simply click on the book covers below that interest you to read their full descriptions and reviews on Amazon.
Likeable social media book Platform Book ProBlogger Book Grammar Girl Book Lead with a business story
Getting Started in Consulting The Well-fed Writer book Blog Inc. Book Pinterest for Business Guide Book how to sell your crafts online book

13. Make a financial plan to save up for that next item (camera, laptop, software) you need for your business.

It still surprises me what we’re capable of financially if we stop eating out, give up a little entertainment, and find other places to save money (as in #9 on this list).

14. Host a giveaway for your business and promote the [expletive] out of it.

Maybe it’s a free consultation, an email-delivered gift card to Amazon, or a small product or service you offer.

15. Do something creative (that’s not directly related to your business) to get your creative juices flowing.

Paint, write a short story, blog about something entertaining to you, cook an awesome meal, etc.

16. Create a style guide for your blog (instructions here), and then follow your new style guide.

It will do wonders for conformity, consistency, and visual appeal.

17. Organize the files on your computer and your home desktop screen.

No, really organize them. It will help you FOCUS. My system (screenshot below) is a completely blank screen with one folder for all my “Desktop” items, and then any documents/projects that require my immediate attention + something I call “The Awesome List,” which is all of my to do items. Everything else is stored away in the most logical folder for it.

Clean Desktop
Want my same blue glitter desktop wallpaper? Get it for free here.

18. Read a free eBook on 75 Ways to Help Your Brand Stand Out.

If you like any of these 40 things to do when business is slow, you might also want to try these 75 Ways to Help Your Brand Stand Out.

75 Ways to Help Your Brand Stand Out by Regina

You get this eBook for free when you sign up for my Creative Superhero emails (you can do so at the top of my site). The free eBook is delivered after signup and you also get access to live, monthly Q+As conducted as webinars, as well as tips, resources, and discounts that I don’t release anywhere else.

19. Use Gravatar to make sure your picture shows up next to all your blog comments (instructions here).

Get your picture to show up next to your comments

20. Create a free resource for your website visitors to download and love you for.

Then create a few more and make a free resources page to help & delight your clients.

21. Create a group of resources or an epic resource (an eBook, an online class, etc.) that people can get for free when they sign up for your email list.

22. Create some standard reply emails that you can quickly personalize whenever a potential client emails you.

Perhaps your emails should contain some links or downloads of the awesome free resources you just made in #20 and #21.

23. Revamp any and all of your marketing materials that can use a change.

Design it yourself, barter with a designer friend of yours, hire a professional designer, or use a site like fiverr.com or 99designs.com for inexpensive work.

24. Write out your project/client workflow.

From the moment a client contacts you to the moment you deliver their goods or services, what should happen? How long should a client wait between each step? How will you manage the project on your end, and so on. Write out the whole process to ensure you follow the same steps each time. This will help you not miss anything and will help ensure each client gets the same quality experience from you.

25. Check Google Analytics and see which posts and pages are your most popular.

Are there any pages with an extremely high exit rate/bounce rate? Try to figure out why.

26. Do a website blog post audit.

Check that all your links still work, that you’ve linked to other content on your site whenever applicable from within each post, check that all your images are displaying correctly, check that all the information you share is still up to date, add new information when necessary, and do everything you can to continually make your blog content awesome.

27. Create some useful content you can sell.

Passive income is the life! (Think online course, eBook, printed book, etc.) A whole book or course may sound intimidating, but when you plan it out chapter by chapter and pace yourself (+ pull from all the blog posts, articles, and free resources you’ve written), you can share your helpful knowledge with the world. I created a 57-page workbook + challenge that takes you through the process of creating an information product in three days: 3-Day Create. I used the steps in that guide to create all of the workbooks and books I sell and all the classes and resources on this site.

28. Upload your Buffer queue or HootSuite account with one tweet each month for every blog post or free resource on your website.

It’s so much easier than trying to remember a post you wrote 8 months ago when you’re looking for something to tweet.

29. Start a new project, blog, or collaboration.

Most entrepreneurs and freelancers are good at more than one thing. Maybe you write engaging short stories–start a new blog. Perhaps you like to create healthy meals or give relationship/dating tips. A blog or collaboration could be just what you need.

30. Go into research mode.

Find three blogs in your industry with great information you can learn from. Or, find your favorite 10 blog posts about a certain topic and share links to them from a new blog post on your site.

31. Make sure all your blog posts and pages are optimized for search engines.

If you use WordPress, check out the search engine optimization plugin (+ other great pro plugins) on this list.

32. Clean up your email inbox, and unsubscribe from newsletters you haven’t read in 12 months.

33. Create a pretty email campaign to send out to your email list.

Mailchimp is a great, free way to do this. If you don’t have an email list, create a signup form for one and give away one of your free downloads (#20 and #21) as bait.

34. Find yourself a peer group.

You know … some people you can talk your business ideas over with, people who can encourage you, people who “get” you and who live the small business lifestyle as well. Find those people (good sources are friends, online communities, blogs) and talk with them once a month or once per quarter to keep you on your “A game.”

35. Volunteer some pro-bono work to a charity, business, or random organization.

It will be good for the world, good for your portfolio, and good for you to keep working. Consider making the free work a giveaway that people can nominate themselves or a friend to win.

36. Spend some time learning (really, really learning) a social media platform you think might be valuable to your business.

For example: Play around in Pinterest for a few days. Note the pins that draw your attention, read descriptions and see which ones are most effective, find some top pinners in your industry and see what they’re doing right. Learn the slang, etiquette, and way of life on the social media channel of your choice. Read a book on it (like the eBook below, or the one listed in #12), find some good blog posts on it, and then dive into creating content for your business social media profile/page.
Pinterest for Business Book

37. Get some new photos of you, your products, your office, your people at work, or your customers enjoying your products.

Whether you get some professional photos taken (which is a great idea to lend credibility to you) or you learn a few photography tricks with your iPhone or Android device, new pictures always entice readers, regular visitors, new visitors, social media followers, etc. Plus, have you ever noticed that you’re more excited about promoting something when you have an awesome image of it?

38. Make a new Twitter cover photo or Facebook cover photo for your business.

Use a free tool such as Canva, Pixlr.com, or PicMonkey.com to make your new graphics.
Twitter cover photo dimensions: 1500 x 500 pixels (for the newest 2014 layout)
Facebook cover photo dimensions: 851 x 315 pixels

39. Record and publish a free video tutorial.

Make a video on how to use one of your products, or how to do something useful and cool related to your business. Basically, make a short video that will add value to your customers.

40. Write out a detailed goal list of how you’re going to spend the 240 mornings available to you each year to make your business awesome.

Quick favor: Please share this post with other business owners or freelancers you know, so that they can be inspired during lulls in business as well. Thanks!

Photo of woman: © iko

101 responses to “40 Things to Do When Business is Slow (to help grow your business)”

  1. Julie Durand says:

    This list is great Regina! Thank you so much for putting these suggestions and instructions together… Business isn’t slow right now but I’m always striving to accomplish more and streamline things….I re-read several of your posts while going through this list, did #18, am working on #20, 21, 27, 33, 36, & spent most of today on #30! Oh, and I’m having a blast working on #29 with you! 🙂

    • regina says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting Julie. Can’t wait to see what you come up with for #20, 21, and 27!

      And yes, #29 has already been tons of fun. Just made some vegan gelato today, and I plan to make some more comfort foods over the next few days.

  2. fathima says:

    This is such a great post! Lots of those things are already on my to-do list, some are already done and some are new. Definitely saving this for myself for later, and to share with my audience.
    Thank you! 🙂

    • regina says:

      Thank you. I just love your blog. It really does make me happy to look at. You are crazy talented. Thanks for commenting and taking the time to read.

      • fathima says:

        Wow, thanks Regina! Really appreciate that 🙂
        Only just discovered yours recently and have bookmarked it as a regular, so many more awesome articles on here I need to read when I get a gap.

  3. Naomi says:

    I have decided that the much simpler process for me to soak up all of the goodness you have to offer is to just have you move next door, we can drink wine together and that way, I won’t have 27 tabs open on my browser with different things you’ve written.

    This list is fantastic and while I already have a habit of doing many of them, there are some really great ones in here. Favorites include *make some videos *organize the files! *host a giveaway and *read / learn

    • regina says:

      Haha. Thank you. Exactly, but, what city would I be moving to again? Is it somewhere cold? I don’t own any real coats/jackets (I’m from Texas) and would need to start my collection.

      Thanks for reading. “Organize your files” is my constant task because if I let it go for a week, my desktop is in utter chaos and I get embarrassed at the coffee shop when someone sees how much junk I have on my computer.

      Thanks for reading. I think we could build a pretty epic shared wine collection if we were neighbors, and that’s a valuable thing.

  4. Naomi says:

    Well, for now it’s Florida, so you’d be fine! Over the summer though, we’re moving to the DC area, so that may be a bit cold for you.

    I’m planning to do the organization of my files today, although to be honest, it scares the bezeebus out of me because I put awesome things in random places and when I come across them later, then I feel OH SO TEMPTED to divert my focus and lose track of my task at hand.

  5. Nessa Jay says:

    I love this list and will be sharing it with a lot of fellow small business owners! Thanks for putting it together, there are a few things I’ll be starting on right now.

    • regina says:

      Nessa, thank you for coming by to comment and I apologize for taking so long to respond. I appreciate your time reading this and thank you for sharing. About to go check out your blog, Lala’s Party, now.

      • Nessa Jay says:

        Thank you for checking it out! I just revamped it this week and I’ve started working on new types of content for the future. Very exciting! I hope you like it.

  6. […] Read the rest of the post here: ByRegina:  What To Do When Business is Slow […]

  7. I am so happy to have found this post via Pinterest! I’ve been marketing my small businesses for years, but found so many new ideas I hadn’t thought of before. I am committed to being a full-time sales and marketing professional for my business during the downtime (my biz is mostly seasonal, and the colder months are slower), and this post gave me so many awesome ideas!

    I wrote down all the ideas I think will be helpful to me, and now just need to pick the ones that I think will give me the most bang for the buck (although most require no bucks, just time), and get working on them ASAP. Thanks!

    • regina says:

      Just checked out your business, which is too cool by the way. I wish you had a second location (bus) in Austin. Such a neat idea.

      I appreciate that you took some time to check this post out and thank you so much for the comment.

  8. carol dunlop says:

    Totally awesome list! I am sharing this for sure, because it has so many actionable items that make sense. Thanks for showing me how NOT to waste my time because there is a lull in my client roster.

    • regina says:

      Thank you Carol. I appreciate that you took some time to check it out. Just checked out your site and what you do is so important—so, thank YOU for choosing a business and lifestyle that will help others be healthier and happier. Hope this list helps even in some small way.

      Thank you for your comment.

  9. […] http://byregina.com/what-to-do-when-business-is-slow/  Pin or bookmark this list, and any time you’re sitting around this year with “nothing to do” for your small business, or wondering how you can grow your business, read this list. […]

  10. Lian says:

    Regina, you’re like an oracle to me. Have written it all down (to get it set in my mind right away) and came up with onspiration immediately. Super thanks for this wonderful post!

    • regina says:

      Awwwwwwwsies, thank you. And your Etsy shop is all sorts of adorable. If only I could be crafty. It means a ton to me that you took some time to read this post and to comment. Thank you Lian.

  11. La Tonia says:

    Thank you! I love the generosity of this article and the how you made the active links available, with some benefit to your brand. Everyone needs a YOU in their life. I will stay connected and will determine the best way to use all of your offers. You have many entry points to consider!

  12. Lindsay says:

    Awesome article Regina, thank you!!! Your site inspires me to pursue my business and really get excited about it. I cant thank you enough 🙂

    • regina says:

      Lindsay, wow, that’s the best thing I could hear. Thank you for saying that. Thanks also for taking time out to comment. I’m in awe of your SEM skills, not my strong suit at all.

      I appreciate you + I love the profile pic.

  13. Thanks for all the tips, I really appreciate all the information you give! Been throwing around the idea of adding a premium subscriber section to my blog, something I really want to discuss with a professional once I get my next adsense deposit. Don’t really think I’m going to make a fortune, just want to be able to pay for my photoshop cc subscription, hosting, design, and domain. I would love to have a consultation with you after the new year. Happy Thanksgiving!

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  17. Thank you! Most of these are on my January List already, but it is a good reminder to get going when things are going slowly – and you included a few that I had not thought of.

  18. Glye says:

    Awesome! Thanks for this helpful info… and i downloaded the free planner! Wish me luck…. 🙂

  19. Wow! Great ideas. I pinned this post but have already employed “Focus” as my screensaver. Focus is my word for 2015. I plan to check off many more ideas from this list. Thank you!

  20. Silke says:

    Awesome tips in this article 🙂 I do #5 ‘Revamp your website a bit’ all the time, maybe a little too much. Thanks to you I have lots of other ideas now. I have shared your article on my Small Business Marketing Pinterest board.

  21. Onida Cruz says:

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  24. This is an awesome set of ideas. I’ve shared it with a number of other small business owners that I know.

  25. […] 40 Things to Do When Business is Slow to Help Grow Your Business @ Regina […]

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  28. Robyn Petrik says:

    Lots of great ideas on this list, thanks for putting it together. There’s lots here that can be really beneficial for growing your business, drawing in new clients, and widening your audience. I especially love the types of ideas (here and otherwise) you can do in 10 minutes or less. It’s nice to be able to do something during a short downtime and build the benefits quickly.

  29. Catherine says:

    This is awesome, thanks Regina

  30. Joy says:

    Thank you! This was so helpful and inspiring!

  31. one if the best and useful articles I’ve read in a good while. Lots of tips I will be instigating!
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  33. Awesome post Regina. I would like to add another item to your list if I may…

    41. Spend heaps more time at byregina.com for more gold nuggets that you can implement into your business. Regina always posts amazing content and I am constantly getting ideas and aha moments for my business 🙂

  34. Anglea says:

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  36. […] Ideas to keep you productive when business is slow. I discovered “By Regina” a few months ago, and am impressed with how consistently she gives stellar advice. Even if this article doesn’t quite fit you, this is a great blog to add to your reader or to Bloglovin. […]

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  41. Rachel says:

    Thank you for such creative ideas on how to broaden your business’s impact when times are slow or you’re just starting out, it’s definitely something that I’m using to try and promote my new blog. I particularly loved your idea to challenge yourself and write an ebook, I will be giving that one a shot this summer! Wish me luck?! But anyway, I really just wanted to say thank you for all that you do to help new bloggers out with this post and your many other posts! I for one really appreciate it.

  42. […] | A bit of down time? I loved this list of 40 Things to Do When Things Are Quiet. […]

  43. Tiffany says:

    Thanks for the great tips – this is definitely helpful since I am just starting a blog!

  44. Dave Russ says:

    Great list! Indeed very helpful!

  45. Marie Hunter says:

    Stumbled across your blog yesterday via Pinterest and I’m kinda in love. Thanks for posting such useful tips and showing us all how words + design are a powerful combo. Looking forward to more of these gems!

  46. Contacting old clients and checking up on them is a great way to help keep momentum, or at least prevent things from getting awkward.

  47. Hope says:

    Thanks for these simple tips that can be done by just about anybody TODAY!! No excuses.

  48. Maxime says:

    What an awesome list!
    I definitely needed it right now, summer is my low period. Great tips, this will be my checklist for the upcoming month. Thank you so much Regina! 🙂

  49. […] 40 Things to do When Business Is Slow to Help Grow Your Business by byRegina.com […]

  50. […] 40 Things to Do When Business is Slow (to help grow your business). These are great tips + activities for your business as you grow. biz creative” height=”” width=”728″ /> Via: byregina.com […]

  51. Tatjana says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am in the process of developing my blog (sheasobject.wordpress.com) and have my own company Mena Group ltd, so your posts are such a booster!
    Wish you all the best,


  52. Kristina A says:

    Thank you!! This list is awesome! My husband is joining his son in business. He recently did his LLC filing and we are going to add another component that brings me into the picture a little more, and earlier, than originally planned. We are going to have to do or own business plan and you have so many resources in this one article that will be very helpful.

  53. Not sure where I got your link from but I am SO HAPPY I FOUND YOU!!!This is an AWWESOME list…it sparked some ideas I could try before I even got to #10. Evernoting the whole list!!Thanks so much!

  54. […] Source: http://byregina.com/what-to-do-when-business-is-slow/ […]

  55. Elizabeth says:

    Awesome ideas for this very down month 🙂 Thanks!

  56. Hello!
    I checked the date and realised that you published this post around one and a year half ago, but I just discovered it! All these tips feel so fresh!
    I’ve blogging for several years, I keep blogging as a hobby. Though, sometimes it feels really inspiring to read tips on how to become better!

    Best Regards,

  57. Elle Ay Esse says:

    I love these tips and like to keep this particular article bookmarked to come back to when I need a shot of inspiration.

    I have a set schedule for doing a ton of these things on a daily level but I often find myself doing them quickly and thus overlooking some in depth ways to grow during my off time.

    Thank you for sharing this. You have been such an amazing influence in my blog and design career!

    – E

  58. Dave Russ says:

    This is an awesome idea to put up an article like this. It really inspires me. Thank you.

  59. Amanda Sue says:

    Oh my goodness I love this list! I’ve got a lot of these down, but I’m going to poke through the list. I need to turn it into a checklist or something. 😀

    Sidenote: On the start page, where the image for this blog is shown, it just links back around to the start page and creates one never ending loop. I was however quite motivated to find it, so I googled the exact title. But I’m kind of weird like that. lol

  60. Amanda Sue says:

    Also, the link for the marketing planner isn’t working. *sad face*

    I’m sorry to be the bearer of all the frustrating news…

  61. Danie says:

    This is such a wonderful list! I especially loved your suggestion of creating a style guide for your blog. I’ll certainly be implementing that within the next few days. Thank you so much for the inspiration!

  62. Jeannr says:

    I found this via Pinterest, what a great list. Lots to take in!! I am in the process of launching a blog and have been doing a lot of research over the past couple of weeks. Thank you for the excellent content!

  63. […] 40 Things to do When Business Is Slow to Help Grow Your Business – byRegina.com […]

  64. Anjasmara says:

    Great post Regina. Love it & very informative. Keep up the good work ! Jas from Malaysia. 🙂

  65. Sanjay says:

    Amazing article. It is a great article for business owners who are going with difficult times, it can help them. Thanks

  66. Your advice is always awesome Regina! Thanks for the inspiration on how to continually improve and think differently about business. As an Etsy shop owner, a lot of this advice is still really relevant! Another avenue that I’ve been putting a lot of effort into as a small business owner is ways to streamline my processes. I like to work — but I also like to make that work as easy as possible. I always tell my friends and family who own businesses to look at the processes that they’re using. Is there a way to automate? Or delegate? For example, a few months ago I found a listing automation tool (Best Auto Renew) for my Etsy shop that has saved me several hours every week! I also use social media automation. Would definitely recommend taking the time to look into these things because it’s going to save you SO much more time in the long run!!

  67. Rachel says:

    Wow, I love this! Really helpful for those who are lone Rangers.

  68. Jeff Babcock says:

    Can I get a copy of the Marketing guide listed in idea #7? Looks like the link was removed?

  69. […] 3) Post: 40 Things To Do When Business Is Slow (Note: This is one of Regina’s old posts, but I bookmarked it for later in 2014 and want to […]

  70. DNN says:

    It is tough sometimes to create quality content when your brain goes blank. Writer’s block is hopefully a stepping stone that’ll inspire content marketers to be better in their future writing.

  71. cfx says:

    Old post but interesting

  72. […] she writes is SO AWESOME. Let me share a little of the love by recommending this post about 40 Things to Do When Business is Slow. We all need that little push sometimes to keep our business growing, to keep things in […]

  73. Thanks for these amazing tips. You have a great blog! Everyone’s business has slow periods, so this is great advice to implement.

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  75. Very good information. I always read your articles. Thank you.

  76. Rene Bergado says:

    Thank a bunch! This inspires us to do something creative and plan ahead of time for our business. Keep posting 🙂


  77. Helga says:

    Great read – scheduled for sharing @odysseyonlinemanagement

  78. This is an awesome and super practical post! Thank you 🙂

  79. Richa Sethi says:

    Wow, such an awesome post. I absolutely loved it 🙂

  80. dream says:

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    My web site looks weird when browsing from my iphone4.
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    If you have any recommendations, please share.
    Appreciate it!

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