Like clockwork, you arise at the crack of dawn, complete your morning routine, and put on a brave face that you finish off with a bright-yet-delicate smile.
You take a seat at your home office. Or maybe you opt to work from a local coffee shop. Maybe you dare to go into your showroom or office where your rent is past due, hoping to avoid the building's landlord.
You spend your days oscillating between earnest hope ("Today could be the day!") and utter despair ("Another day of no progress"). Business is slow. There are no new customers or clients. No new projects to help you build your revenue back up. And no new job offers.
You're smack dab in the middle of a business famine.
Whether you're an entrepreneur, freelance contractor, or an employee that is currently in between jobs, there may be times when you find yourself on the famine end of the feast-or-famine work cycle.
It's normal to experience fear and discouragement in these times, but it doesn't have to be your norm. Times of famine can actually help us to reset and focus on the more important aspects of life.
There is more to achieving the ultimate work-life balance, there's more to YOU and your life than simply living to watch the digits increase in your bank account.
Here are nine ways to thrive in times of a business famine:
Enjoy a little R+R+R
If you've suddenly gone from working 40 or 60 or 70 hours a week to spending your days mining for new business, you should enjoy the ability to sleep in a little later, or take naps, while it lasts.
A well-rested body is a body that will be more efficient, effective, and productive when your workload once again increases. When you work for yourself, it can be easy to forget that rest is a necessity, not a luxury that you can't afford. Your business (and future work) cannot afford for you to skip out on rest.
The slow season is a good time for you to reconnect with yourself and the people you love. Take up that hobby you've been interested in. Accept, and initiate, social invitations that may not otherwise fit into your schedule in busier times. Do the (affordable) things you enjoy with the people you love, and who love you (even when you're buried under a mountain of work)—your supportive spouse, your darling children, the parents who have been cheering you on.
Be present. Make memories. This will motivate you to push through in the busier times ahead.
Billionaire Warren Buffett estimates that he spends 80% of his time reading. When asked about the key to his success, Buffett reportedly pointed to a stack of books and said, "Read 500 pages like this every day. That's how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest."
Invest in yourself. Expand your knowledge and increase your lexicon. Fiction. Biographies. Thoughtfully-researched articles. Industry magazines. Reading provides exposure and can help facilitate making creative connections later on.
The endorphins released in your brain during exercise will help you beat the slow-business blues. A challenging and consistent exercise regimen will also help to instill and reaffirm principles that can be applied to your business. Principles like discipline and perseverance. Regular exercise will also help keep you healthy.
You can't do your job, or build and run a business, if you're bed-ridden. A healthy body is always good for business.
When you're busy with work and your business is thriving it can be easy to forget how much your community needs you. One of the best ways to overcome discouragement is to be an encouragement to others. So in times of business famine, get active in your community! Give to those in need. Use your specialized skills to help a nonprofit. Mentor someone interested in your field. Serve with your favorite organization. You can make a difference. And chances are you'll meet some great people along the way!
Sometimes all you need is a change in perspective to better see the big picture. The wisdom that can be gleaned from nature can help to reduce any anxiety you may feel. Disconnect from technology. Go offline. And spend a few minutes outdoors. Soak up some sun on your lunch break. Listen to the birds chirping. Take in all the fine details of the soothing sights and sounds of nature.
There's something about nature that reminds us that in time everything will work out and be okay.
Learn a new skill
There is no better time to invest in a little professional development than in a slow season. And it doesn't have to cost you and arm and a leg. Tools like Skillshare, Coursera, and Udemy offer affordable, and sometimes FREE, courses.
Explore a new skill that would be complementary to your current offerings. For example, photography to go along with graphic design. Or graphic design to go along with copy writing.
Sharpen your old skills
No matter how good you are as what you do, you can always get better. Perfect practice makes perfect. Increase your efficiency. Shorten the time on completing a certain task. Start a personal project that will allow you to utilize the skills that may be lying dormant and then use it to showcase your abilities.
You won't be in a work famine forever. One day, sooner or later, the tables will turn again in your favor and you'll be feasting on the fruits of your labor.
But what if that day is today, would you be ready to handle it?
Strategic planning and making preparation for the influx of business you envision is just as important as completing common tasks. Use this time to prepare and set yourself apart from the competition. How can you better manage your time? How can you incorporate customer service that goes above and beyond? What materials will you need?
“Downtime” is the perfect time to work on creating those new products, packages, or systems.
You’re expecting rain, but did you dig your well?
When Jamaica native Cara-Marie Findlay is not using her blog Findlay House to inspire, or snorting from laughing too much, she is harnessing the power of words to create positive change. She is an accomplished freelance Editor and Writer, specializing in publishing and nonprofit clients.