Let’s talk about quiet months… you know the ones. We’ve all had them. On a factual level they may look like this:
Most months making money and making sales is pretty predictable. You put your physical or digital ‘Come on in, We’re open’ sign out and passers by / adoring(?) and usually engaged audience popped on over and start asking how they can pay you.
However this month, your customers have either gone on holiday or are taking a holiday from buying.
This slowly starts to become increasingly disturbing as the days go by…16th,17th,18th,19th…you know you have some whopping bills at the end of the month.
You start to question how you will pay them.
When is the point you need to worry?
How old is too old to ask your family to lend you some money?
Why can’t you get the documentary ‘Pole dancing and me’ out of your head?
When is the point where things gets so uncomfortable that you can start to tweak your values?
‘Being a good business owner’
You do all the things; the positive mindset inner work…the podcasts and motivational shizzle, the deep breathing, the pep talk of ‘You can do this,dude’.
You sit at your desk with a strong and detailed to do list and for the most part you actually complete a lot of tasks.
You may even throw in a few ‘why not’ emails in there…the pitches, the ‘Heeeeey…maybe we could work together’… you know the stuff that is out of your comfort zone and you have to look away from the screen when you press send because it would be too scary to actually revel in this empowered moment.
But yet you get nothing back.
There are a lot of ‘out of office’ responders which make you feel despondent as you’ve just spent over an hour crafting that perfect ‘Yeah…I’m breezy, but keen but available but not desperate’ email.
You’ve shared some of your best work but yet nothing.
To be honest, if you had taken a picture of the inside of your laundry basket you may have evoked a more engaged response. You’ve spent lots of time putting together some ‘golden nuggets’ and ‘killer content’ but you got more ‘likes’ from passers by in the corner shop.
If you have been nodding to the above, it is ok. In fact it is normal. It is likely your business will have quiet months. Then you may be surprised and have some extraordinary ones.
June was extraordinary for me. August was slow, steady and satisfactory.
Throughout my career I know this to be the case for my industries. January and August are often quiet; many casting directors are out of London and seeing work that has already been created i.e the Edinburgh Fringe and not calling my agent with auditions and creating new work.
Likewise in the coaching industry, my clients are having and enjoying down time with their families and absorbing the summer months. It is about unwinding, switching off, being in the moment and out of routine. In fact so many of my clients state this at the beginning of working together; they want to create a business that allows them to make memories and work flexibly.
However the first time I had a quiet month (despite knowing the above) I had a melt down. Yep, the works; ugly crying, panic, irrational thinking, generally being closed, insecure, tight and slightly passive aggressive….such an appealing disposition for those around me?!
Years later, I now know for sure: Just because you have a quiet month does not mean you have to change your business model.
Sure of course, some quiet times are useful for reflection. Perhaps less 1:1 work means you have more headspace for making small changes that are going to have a huge impact. If those ideas pop into your head, go with them and action them.
But for the most part, it is a learning to sit tight and ride it out…the new season is just around the corner. Of course this can be terrifying if you have bills to pay and other people to care for.
I want you to know:
You are great at what you do. You have worked so hard to get to this point, even if it is a new business, you have been cultivating your skills and talents for a long time.
Your customers may not be ready for you now but they may be ready for you in a minute. January usually kick starts my exercise regime again as I know exercise is good for me, I don’t want to start ‘going for it’ on Boxing Day. I enjoy the indulgences of Christmas. I love that family time. Your only job as the business owner is to be available, ready and visible so when your customer is ready so you are the go to person.
Running your own business and working through challenges times can activate all your ‘stuff’ and as we know our brain finds more of what we tell it. So if you have if you have had a few ‘Not now but later’ emails and you are in a negative state, you will immediately activate other rejections; the times when someone said no, or you got dumped or that hurtful, flippant comment that still stays with you about not amounting to anything.
Sometimes we have to be firm with our thoughts, when the chips are down, it can be easy to spiral into all the other things we are not achieving or owning. Often we can be a hop, skip and jump from transporting into full on victim mode; playing small and throwing a pretty unattractive strop. Try and catch yourself before you get there. (If you do go there, go for it but don’t stay there for long). Go back to the facts always, this glum, sticky patch is as never as bad as you think.
Take the time to rest, recharge, regroup and get the creative juices going. This summer I have had not taken enough time to fully work or fully relax, I have been doing this weird jig. But I know I want to take next August off. I understand the seasons of my business much more these days and when I am busy I need to be ready to show up as the best version of myself so I am much more aware of my flow; creatively and financially.
Just because you are not getting immediate results doesn’t mean you have to change everything. You have created some wonderful offerings that are likely to have come from an instinctive and savvy place. Don’t throw all this hard work away. Focus on how you can get more eyes on your offerings.
Be imaginative, use your intuition, get technical…perhaps there is a key marketing component that is missing.
Be consistent, continue to show up as you, give oodles of value, ask questions, get to know your audience. Don’t get distracted. Everything you want is on its way but are you ready? Allow yourself to wallow, but a disproportionate amount of time is delaying your progress and withholding your talents from those who need them.
This month may have been awful. It may have made your question everything. It may have effected your mental health, your belief in yourself and your relationships. None of this is helped by seeing a feed of people having a jolly old time and living their best life on social media.
It will get better and as annoying as it is to say, these tricky months become part of your story. An opportunity to connect with your audience, to have a deeper understanding of the roller coaster of business life. You will have increased empathy, compassion and a greater appreciation for your successes when they come and believe me they are coming.
Finally despite what we see the glossy Instagram squares or the meet ups in real life where it feels like everyone has got their shit together apart from you… everyone has tricky times. Many choose not to talk about it, which is of course ok, but please don’t think for a moment you are alone or less than brilliant.
I hear you, I see you and I am cheering you on the whole way.