I once heard another work-at-home professional refer to business ownership as a “series of hills and valleys.” The hills were the times when things are somewhat quiet and for a brief moment, you feel like you might actually get caught up. The valleys happen when things pick up speed and momentum, we are slammed with work and it's all we can do hang on tightly and race towards the finish line.
Basically, it’s like riding a rollercoaster with varying degrees of pitch, speed, and tummy quakes.
I too have felt the hills and valleys of business ownership these last three years, and though there are some variables, I’ve gotten used to these lulls and hectic times to the point I can almost set my watch by them. I know now that the summer months of June, July, and August tend to be slower (for me) while months like January – March, and September – November make me a little insanium-in-the-cranium.
This may not be the case with your work-at-home business, but I would venture to guess that you do in fact know your peak times and slow times. I also have a feeling that sometimes those slow times give you cause for worry-filled pacing, teeth gnashing, imaginations running wild, and jumping to conclusions.
It’s such a bummer we can’t burn calories for those activities.
The trick is managing those “quiet” times. Managing those times when your hypothetical coaster car is moving slowly and just cresting the top of the hill. Managing those slow times when you almost feel like you are running out of work to do. Those quiet times can be a godsend, but also give us the heebie-jeebies when they seem to last a little too long.
When our workload slows temporarily it can send some of us (including me) into instant worry mode as we fear the worst and think things like; “are all my clients going away?” or “what if no one has any more work for me this month?” and so on. It’s also these times my overly-melodramatic alter ego, we will call her Countess Frantic, used to go into full freak-out mode was even known to utter sayings like, “my clients don’t love me anymore!!” But I have learned that, when these “hills” or slow times appear on the horizon, I need to feed Countess Frantic a beefy Chill Pill and call it what it is, a lull in the action.
I’ve learned to not only get comfortable with these slower times in my business but have faith that they are only temporary. I’ve also learned to cherish the little pockets of time as an excuse to read, indulge in an educational course, or spend extra time with my family.
I know I have mentioned in previous posts that one should never stop prospecting when working as an independent contractor and I still completely stand by that. Busy or slow, as a work-at-home professional you need to Never. Stop. Prospecting. I can also assure you that, when those slow times do hit, the continuation of your prospecting activities for new leads, clients, and projects will give you a sense of control over the destiny of your business, and to me, that is a priceless thing. So this last week marked yet another “hill” in my business.
Did I freak out? NOPE.
What did I do during those quieter moments?
- Wrote a guest blog post
- Visited other blogs and left comments on them
- Prospected new turf for leads and projects
- Tended to my garden
- Went for a walk
- Worked on the staggering pile of books “I need to read”
- Reached out to old clients that I hadn’t heard from in a while
- Surprised my family with a surprise impromptu visit to the zoo
- Cleaned my office
Yes, when things go quiet it can be a symptom of a much bigger problem, and if it goes on for too long you may need to take a hard look at your tactics and practices. But after three years, I have discovered these “hills” are short-lived and I have also learned to take those pockets of quiet as a gift, and a gift I shouldn’t spend too much time obsessing about it.
As I write this, it’s a new week and sure enough, my inbox is blowing up with work requests, potential opportunities, and job leads. My coaster car has just crested the hill and soon I will be screaming down the other side, hanging on for dear life and just trying to keep up.
Just think what would have happened if I would have fallen into panic mode, become paralyzed by worry and had not seized the opportunity for some summer afternoon fun and productivity?
Tomorrow still comes whether we are busy or not, it’s what you are doing about it today that matters.
What are you doing to manage the hills and valleys of your business?
“Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.”― Benjamin Franklin
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Rebecca Flansburg proudly left a 30-year stint in the 9-5 world three years ago to work full-time (from home and on her own terms) as a virtual assistant, freelance writer, and blogger. Rebecca is the Cover Girl writer for HERLIFE Magazine Sacramento & Central Valley, is an avid blogger on her own veteran blog Franticmommy and is co-creator of FREElance FREEdom-a site dedicated to helping women discover life beyond the cubicle.