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4 min read

How To Ride Out The Quiet Periods As A Small Business Owner

There only ever seems to be two settings when you’re running your own business, too busy or too quiet! Sometimes it can flit between the two over the course of the same day.

The ability to cope with this rollercoaster ride defines those who are self-employed as adaptable and resilient. But even the most seasoned self-employed professional can feel flustered when business is a little slow. If you find yourself in a bit of a slump when you don’t have plenty of client work to keep you busy it’s important to stay productive and try to make the most of the downtime.


Don’t give in to self-doubt

Think about how far you’ve come in your work, the successes you’ve had and the challenges you’ve already conquered. Everyone has quiet periods so try not to panic. Take positive action to quash any anxiousness.


Conduct a business review 

This is the perfect time to step back and take stock of where you’re at in your business. Ask yourself who you really want to be working with. Assess the clients who you are currently working for and clients who have dropped off who you liked working with.

  • What are you best at?
  • What are your career goals?
  • What is your niche?
  • Which prospective clients fit into this niche?

Business review checklist:

  1. Assess your list of current clients and clients who have dropped off.
  2. Conduct a competitor check.
  3. Define your niche and who your ideal prospects are.
  4. Update your website content, work on its SEO and write some blogs.
  5. Review your social media channels and create content plans.


Ask for work

When you’ve identified past clients who you worked well with and your ideal prospects, get (back) in touch with them. Ask current clients if they have other things that you could help them with (make some suggestions) and reach out to people in your network who might want to outsource work to you. 


Diary with appointments written down


Give yourself a break

Take some time off. Remember that one of the main benefits of being self-employed is the flexibility it can afford you and quiet periods are the best time to take a break. If you don’t feel like your bank balance is up to booking a last-minute holiday then have a long weekend away, or just take a day or afternoon to yourself to do whatever you want to (that’s non-work-related!) It will inevitably bring you inspiration and make you feel more motivated for work again.

10 ideas for taking some time out from work:

  1. Read a book
  2. Work on your own project
  3. Go for a long walk
  4. Take a trip to the seaside
  5. Sign up for a short course
  6. Visit an exhibition
  7. Have a spa day
  8. Go to the cinema
  9. Tick something off your bucket list
  10. Play a sport


Prevention not cure

Hindsight is a wonderful thing so put things in place so that you are less likely to have another quiet period. Gaining new clients can be very long lead so plan to do small things often in terms of building connections and relationships. Even when you’re busy, make sure you’re putting some security in place for the longer-term; saving for a rainy day, growing your database of contacts and making regular communications.

By keeping your website up to date with a regular blog and doing some work on its SEO it should be working away for you in the background, generating interest and enquiries.



Procrastination and deliberation will likely lead to worry when work is quiet. Put some decisive plans in place to ride out less busy times. Just don’t try to do too much and make sure you don’t start lots of things that you can’t finish or continue to commit to when work gets busier again. Choose one priority task that you’d like to achieve in a day and then give yourself time for a break and don’t feel guilty about it.

Prepare yourself for slower times that you know might be coming like August when lots of people are on holiday and have business continuity plans in place. Think about what advice you would give to someone else who found themselves with a decreased workload and try to follow that. If you haven’t already, consider opening a free business account to forecast your outgoings and keep on top of your cash flow.

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Sophie Cross

Sophie Cross is a freelance writer and marketer specialising in business and travel. She is the editor for London Revealed magazine and her clients include Group and Merlin Entertainments.

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