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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You get this eBook for free when you sign up for my Creative Superhero emails. 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).
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.
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.
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