As a growing agency, you’ll experience times when business is booming and you’re slammed with tons of work on your plate. You’ll also go through slow times when you’re not sure where your next project will come from.
Feast or famine is a real struggle in this industry.
You’ll have to accept this early on in order to weather the storms to come.
Before you start second guessing everything you’ve worked hard for (What was I thinking starting an agency? Do I really have what it takes to grow this business?), just know this: we’ve all been there.
And you know what we think?
You totally have it in you. Otherwise you wouldn’t have made it this far.
When these (slower) times happen, you’ll be able to turn them into pivotal turning points for your business if you’re able to leverage them correctly. And today’s article will show you just how to do that.
I’ll show you some tips on how to stay motivated during tough times so your agency can see the digital light at the end of the virtual tunnel.
Take a Breather and Reflect
Although the stress of not finding projects may overwhelm you, you’ve got to take a step back to clear your mind, first and foremost.
Work has probably been really great at your agency up until this point.
So look back at what you’ve accomplished as a team and take a moment to admire how far you’ve come.
These accomplishments are proof that you and your team know what you’re doing.
Remind yourself of these achievements by writing them down. Share them with your team at a casual (no pressure here) meeting.
Don’t focus on the downtime just yet. Instead, take the time to reflect and be grateful for some breathing room.
Rally Together as a Team
This slow time may be the perfect opportunity to host a casual (and cost-effective) outing with your team. Take your team outside for an hour and enjoy a nice hike or walk.
Being out in nature and away from your computer and work obligations gives your brain a chance to unwind. It’s an ideal place to find clarity and it could be the recharge your team needs.
You could also find a karaoke spot, a game-themed restaurant like Dave & Busters, or a bowling alley in town where everyone can just let loose.
When planning a team adventure, keep things fun and don’t focus on the fact that times are slow.
I know it may seem counterproductive to celebrate during a slow time, but this is the best (and probably only) time you’ll have to recharge.
Visit a Conference or Brush Up On Your Skills
Another way to mentally recharge is to attend an industry specific conference or brush up on your area of expertise.
Think back to the optimism you had at an inspiring conference, when you truly thought, “I can’t wait to try this out!”
Sometimes we just need to dust off the cobwebs in order to find motivation again.
As a small agency, it’s easy to get buried in the day-to-day operations. You’re so focused on what’s due that you forget to step back and look at the whole picture.
Maybe you’re feeling unmotivated because you’re still using the same strategies as when you first opened up shop. While these strategies may still be relevant, they’ve become routine for you.
Visiting a conference or learning something new will allow your creativity to come back to life. This may be just what you need to get through a tough time.
Once you’ve learned something new, share it with your team. Hopefully your excitement and energy will rub off on them too.
You can even gather everyone together for a brainstorming session and use what you’ve learned to come up with innovative solutions for your clients as a team.
Identify What Makes this a ‘Slow’ Time
Are you really going through a tough time in your business? What do you define as a slow time?
Does a slow period mean your team isn’t bringing on any new clients or does it mean you can’t keep your existing clients happy and they seem to be dropping like flies?
Identify what makes this a slow time for your agency in particular so you can tackle that specific problem head on.
If your concern is finding new clients in order to grow the business, you may be approaching things wrong.
Instead of focusing on quantity, shift your attention to quality.
By providing your existing clients with as much value as possible, you may be able to increase your rates enough to offset the need to find new clients.
We already talked about the fact that it’s cheaper to maintain an existing client than it is to find a new one, so take the advice and run with it.
Use what you’ve learned at your most recent conference and sit down with your existing clients to come up with new strategies or update existing ones to add more value and raise your rates.
It’s far better to keep your current customers happy than to find new ones that will end up leaving due to poor performance down the line.
Meet with Each of Your Clients
Maybe you recently finished a project for a client and now you’re left wondering what to do next.
Have you considered switching them to a monthly retainer once the project’s done?
Let’s face it: clients don’t always know that they need your help. Oftentimes, they’ll come to us with a problem to solve (let’s say, updating their website), but they don’t realize that the initial problem is just the beginning.
Instead of selling them on services they don’t need, think about what issues they may face once the project is complete. Then find ways to help them moving forward.
By identifying how you can assist them, they’ll be more likely to use you and your team to tackle those obstacles.
This simple step could easily lead to more work for you, which is perfect during slow times.
Even if a project is not yet complete, it always pays to check in with your client using more than just an email or brief phone call.
Schedule a face-to-face meeting— even if it’s over Skype— and ask them how everything is going. See if there’s anything you and your team can do better.
Get Out There and Network
If it turns out that you do in fact need to add more clients to the mix, it’s a good idea to get out there and network.
You’ve got to be proactive about finding new clients when slow times are truly caused by a lack of work. But you don’t want to come across as too aggressive or desperate.
Focus on establishing relationships first and the leads will follow.
If you do this in the reverse order, you may end up pushing people away.
Whatever path you take, understand that a slow time only lasts as long as you let it. Stay positive and proactive and don’t adopt a ‘Woe is me’ attitude.
A walk outside may be just the answer you need to find inspiration for what to do next. Go ahead and step back for a bit and identify what makes this a slow time.
Keep in mind that every business goes through its ups and downs. It’s how you handle the downtime that makes the difference.