I’m not normally one to quantify tips, or really give out that many tips in general. But it just so happens that as I wrote this post, it turned out that I have a lot of ideas with what to do with business “free time.” Sixteen ideas, to be exact.
During the early days of Jess LC in Chicago in 2007 I had a tough time getting the business moving consistently. More times than I’d like to remember I simply stared at my email inbox waiting… hoping… daring… (drooling)… for an email to arrive with a new order. I was desperate for orders, inquiries, and attention. Imagine a water dripping out of a facet. That’s what the slow days felt like. And there were plenty of them.
And although the business has grown immensely and is ohsomuch busier than it was in those early days, I every so often have the same phenomenon pop up. To be honest, these days are like shooting stars, unicorns, or Big Foot sitings. Though super rare (and often non-existent) they may be, I’ve had a few days of calm this week.
So whether you are just starting out (sitting there
drooling waiting for your next new order) or you are like I am now (surprised by a rare moment of pause) I have thought of some great ways to use that time wisely.
1. Do Your Accounting
Okay, so I’m starting off with the vegetables before I get to the desert here, I know. But it goes without saying that it’s super easy to put off bookkeeping during busy seasons only to have to crunch numbers on a tight deadline later. Next time you have a moment, catch up on those numbers.
2. Reorder Supplies
Business cards running low? Packaging levels okay? Take a moment to see if you need to order supplies before they run out so you can save on pricey two-day shipping.
3. Social Media, Social Media!
I always have a tendency to be behind on Twitter, FB, and MML comments when things are crazy. Spend 15 minutes catching up on tweets, comments, and other social media outlets.
4. Delegate A New Project
Yep, if you have someone working for you, have a meeting and talk over a new opportunity and put them in charge of it. You can double your impact in no time at all.
5. Sweep Out Your Inbox
If you’ve got nothing to do, you’ve got no excuse for emails to be sitting unanswered. Take some time to see an email free screen. It’s liberating.
…At least until the next email comes in.
6. Do an Interview
Find someone to interview for your business or blog, or reach out and offer to do an interview for someone else’s blog. Outreach like this can lead to new friends, customers, and awareness about your business.
7. Collaborate With Another Business
Scroll through your twitter or blog reader and find another business you admire and reach out- see if there is a way to cross promote your companies and double your impact.
Okay so it can’t be overlooked: a nap might be just what you need. Just don’t let it last longer than one afternoon. Otherwise it will be tough to roll back into a consistently productive groove.
9. Comment On Blogs
This is different from the social media suggestion in #3 because this is where you go out and touch someone new. Make a new online friend (and be sure to link to your business/blog as well).
10. Look at Financials
Take a look at your business accounts and make sure that things are in order. Do you have enough money saved for your next quarterly tax payment? What are you going to owe in sales tax the next time around? Any accounts receivables (people who still owe you money) to check up on?
11. Find New Customers
This could mean creating a new marketing initiative, sending out an email blast with a customer referral deal, or placing an ad on a new blog. One way or another, find a way to introduce your company to new people.
12. Clean Your Workspace
When things are hectic it’s easy to overlook a pile of papers, an overflowing binder, or outdated line sheets. But when you’ve got the time, use it to get things back in order.
13. Do An Inspiration Dive
This is a fun one. Go to a high-end store – learn new ways to improve your techniques, craftsmanship, or displays. Or take a trend from one area of design and apply it to your products in a different capacity.
And of course, a blog surfing session is always great to see what people are talking and posting about.
14. Do Research
Read a business book, business blog (my favs are here and here), or take a class to learn a new skill or element of your business.
15. Watch TED or Gary Vaynerchuk
Okay, so I am biased towards TED Talks and Gary Vaynerchuk – but feel free to watch other inspiring people in industry and feed off their enthusiasm and ideas for business in the future.
16. Call a Buddy Entrepreneur
If all else fails (or is completed) call up a friend who also is self-employed. Chat about what you’re working on, struggling with, and doing well. It’s always great to talk shop with friends and see if you can learn something new. It’s also a great way to stay motivated and supported when things are tough.