Feast and famine.
The phrase is thrown around often, but it’s only once you work for yourself that you truly appreciate what a rollercoaster it can be.
One minute, work is coming in faster than you can keep up with it. You’re working day in, day out, evenings, weekends and even through the night. Taking a day off seems impossible and the thought of a holiday is unimaginable.
Suddenly, things ease off.
You can breathe again. And you start thinking you might have finally got this business malarkey sussed after all…
Then you realise there’s barely anything in your pipeline, your biggest client has gone off the radar, and the project you had scheduled in next week has fallen through.
The good news is you’re not alone. And the even better news is that there are some things you can do to make the fluctuations less severe.
Understand the magic numbers
Most problems occur because business owners don’t understand their magic numbers.
How many clients do you need to win each month in order to cover your overheads and pay yourself the amount you want? What is your conversion rate and the average length of time from enquiry to invoice? How many enquiries need to be generated each month to hit your target?
If you know these figures, you can forecast for the months ahead, predict when a quiet period is coming up, and feel confident enough to turn away the projects you don’t want.
Pay yourself a set amount each month
When the work is flooding in, it’s tempting to spend a little more than we should. It’s great while it lasts, but when the work quietens down, it can leave us wondering if we’ll be able to cover the mortgage next month.
I’m a big fan of the ‘profit first’ way of working. Rather than paying yourself whatever is left at the end of the month, you take out the profit you want first and then invest what is left into your business.
Of course, if you want this to work, you need to have figured out your magic numbers.
Manage your marketing
When you’re busy, it’s easy to neglect your marketing. When you’re busy, you focus on the work you already have, not on winning more.
The problem is, once you’ve completed all your current projects, you’re left with nothing in your pipeline except tumbleweed.
So what happens now? Well, you go back to everything that worked last time of course.
You have a real push on marketing and advertising and networking. Your follow-ups are awesome, you spend hours putting together detailed proposals, and you take time to go and schmooze potential new clients.
All your hard work pays off at once, and you get an influx of work. Brilliant!
And now you’re back to being too busy to manage your enquiries properly, and you’re working on a load of projects you don’t really enjoy.
And so the cycle continues.
Up, down, up, down, round and round you go.
Take control of your pipeline; don’t let it control you.
To ensure consistent sales, you need consistent marketing.
Even when you are crazy busy, take time to nurture future clients. And when business is a little scarce, don’t fall into the trap of taking the projects nobody else wants.
It’s time to get off the rollercoaster
If you’re struggling to break the feast and famine cycle, I can help.
Every business needs a system.
A system for making sure you’ve got enough cash. A system for generating enough sales. A system for making sure you’ve got enough time to live your life. I work with you to create that system.
If you’d like to know more, check out the free “Hacker’s Guide to Quitting your Job”
Photo by 2Photo Pots on Unsplash