Running your own business can be great – lots of activity, lots of people to meet and help, lots of money flowing through the till.

But what happens when it all goes quiet?

I’ve been running my video business since 1993 and there have certainly plenty of busy and quiet times. In fact it’s been a regular roller coaster over the years. I’d be too busy to bother about marketing and then the work would slow down and I’d realise I’d need to do the marketing. Then the work would pick up again and so the cycle would continue.

But what happens when it goes deathly quiet? I remember it happening back after the Global Financial Crisis in 2009. I even questioned for a second if I should look for a job – literally for a second. Then I remembered I love the benefits of having my own business too much – the freedom, the variety, the control.

Of course that comes with a price – you have to generate the work, even when there’s no work around.

So what do you do? How do I generate work and find clients when it all goes quiet?

The epiphany I had back in 2009 was – what did I do when I started the business? I had to create work somehow and that was before I had hundreds of clients, a solid reputation and years of experience.

I rang people.

I proposed concepts that would solve a problem and create work for me. It was hard work at times, but it had to be done.

So I reminded myself to get over it. There was work out there. There were people who needed my services and I just had to go back to basics. I had to pull my finger out and get on with it. Make calls, talk to people and generate business.

The other realisation I’ve had is recognising where work tends to come from.

For me a lot of work is generated from referrals. So the more people I mix with the more work I seem to get. This means networking groups are an important part of my strategy. Which is good because I quite enjoy socialising so it is relatively easy for me to do.

I’ve learnt over the years networking works best when you are not trying to sell.

Being interested in what others have to offer and what they are trying to achieve is more useful than trying to convince someone to buy from you. Desperation is not a powerful sales strategy :). More often than not, after being interested and being good company, people tend to want to know what I do and how they can work with me.

For others their sales might be through a strong website with effective SEO. It might be through a dynamic social media strategy or email campaign. Check where your work comes from and keep it in mind when determining where to focus your marketing energies.

When you think back to how much effort you put into your business when it started, it’s funny to think a quiet patch could be a threat. You’ve already overcome worse and know how to cope now. Go back to what has worked before and do what is required. You know what you need to do. Get on with it!


Featured image photo credit via photopin (license)


Geoff Anderson

Geoff Anderson is the Managing Director at Sonic Sight a Sydney based video production facility; author of Amazon Bestseller “Shoot Me Now – making videos to boost business” and a presenter on using video for business.

He has been working in TV and Events production for over 20 years.

Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

If you’ve owned a small or medium business, you’ve probably heard the horror stories. The business that seemed to be turning a profit but couldn’t pay their bills. The business who lost their biggest customer and couldn’t get enough new sales to make up the difference. The business whose key employee left and took the bulk of the knowledge with them.

Any one of these incidents can leave your business bleeding—or gushing—funds with no way to staunch the flow. In many cases, a quick death seems to be the only option. So how can you prevent this from happening to your business? What steps can you take to ensure you have a financially healthy business?

1.     Plan and forecast!

Spend time to plan out how your business will operate. How will you pay your staff and suppliers? How will you collect payment from your debtors? Will you pay for everything upfront and expect the same from your customers, or will you provide and request credit for a certain number of days?

Your business may seem to be doing well in terms of profit, but cash flow can be a hidden trap for many businesses. There’s no point in turning a profit when you have no cash to pay your day-to-day bills! Use 3-way accounts, which show you the health of your business financials based on your Profit & Loss (P&L), Balance Sheet (B/S), and Cash Flow Statement. Your accounting software should be able to provide you with all three.

Forecasts, too, are valuable as they show you what to expect going forward. Look for software that can use the previous year’s P&L and B/S to forecast your finances and cash flow in the coming year.

Beyond the financial side, you should also be looking for tools to manage stock and inventory, invoicing, payroll management, and marketing. It’s important to have an overview of every aspect of your business and plan ahead based on the data on hand.

2.     Monitor your expenditure

When things are going well with your business, it’s easy to pay little attention to overhead expenditure. Marketing, supplies, utilities, staffing—these are just some of the areas where it’s easy to let inefficient spending slip through. When a business hits hard times, however, the difference between efficient and inefficient expenditure can determine if that business sinks or swims.

You should constantly check the returns on each major area of expenditure. Is the money spent well, or is it disappearing into a mysterious black hole? Are there any processes you can automate? Any cuts or changes you make in the good times will be one less you have to do in the bad. And you may find yourself with extra capital for expansion!

3.     Manage risks and plan for contingencies

One of the biggest causes of business failure is when unexpected circumstances hit, and the business is ill-equipped to cope with them. There is no plan in place, no back-up funds, no processes to get the business through.

There are many areas of risk that need to be managed, from staffing, to inventory, to finance. At the very least, you should have business insurance to protect your income. But there are plans and processes you should put in place for items such as:

  • General business operation and management
  • Disaster recovery
  • IT system maintenance and management
  • Knowledge transfer and spread between employees
  • Short-term cash shortfalls
  • Corporate governance (board of advisers)

A professional accountant or financial adviser can also provide an objective look at your business and point out the weaknesses you need to shore up. Some advisers can also help you prepare bank documentation to present your business in the best light when applying for loans or lines of credit.

Running a small or medium business can be hard. It can keep you up in the early hours of the morning, worrying about not only its future, but yours as well. If, however, you plan and forecast, monitor your expenditure and manage your risks, you will have a business that is able to weather the storms of an ever-changing market.

This was written in collaboration with Intuit. Find out how Intuit QuickBooks Online can help your small business succeed by visiting their website.