Fewer customer visits and little to no sales happening can really get shop owners in a funk. This is actually very normal in business but maker businesses tend to take it more personally. One month businesses are soaring with YOY sales increases and then BOOM traffic slows down and sales drop off leaving shop owners reeling with confusion and worry.
Craft-preneurs don't usually look at slow times as normal business practice but instead their train of thought usually goes something like this:
- "Oh No! People stopped liking my things"...
- "Etsy/Amazon/Etc MUST have changed SOMETHING without telling me!"
- "What am I going to do....I don't want to have to get a "real" job
- I am going to be HOMELESS!"...etc etc etc..
- "Maybe I should just throw in the towel"
Cue the mass hysteria of creative business owners not used to the ebbs and flows of online commerce. As amazing as it would be to have month over month increases in business, that usually isn't what happens. Sales fluctuate with some months up 300% and alternatively monthly numbers down from the year before. Of course it's concerning to have a drop in sales but it's important to know that the drop was likely due to outside variables not under the shop owners control. Politics, the Economy, Weather and World Events all have an impact on business and shop traffic.
Successful handmade businesses use the slow times to double down. They use the time to work on all the things they "didn't have time for" during the busy time. Some use it to make new things, work on new collections or product development, many use it to plan for the upcoming busier times ahead and others use it to take a much needed rest that they haven't been able to have in months.
It's best to focus on what can be controlled during slow months. First work through the basics:
- Is the business staying fresh?
- Are new products or collections being developed?
- Are holidays and seasons; important to the audience, being celebrated?
- Is advertising and promoting being done on a regular and consistent basis?
- Are the sites and social networks optimized well?
If those questions are being answered yes perhaps instead it may be time for a check up from the neck up. Having a growth mindset is key to growing a successful business. Shop owners who commiserate about all the reasons why they are failing don't have time to focus and work on all the reasons why they could succeed. When the focus is put on the positives and the possibilities...mountains can be moved. Businesses will have no other option than to succeed despite the occasional set back or slow down because they only see success, failure simply isn't an option for them.
When your head is hung low you are looking at the ground and that isn't the direction you want you or your business to move in. The only thing permanent in life is change, the saying goes when you find yourself going through hell, keep going....you don't need to stay there. Hold your head high, take a deep breath and move your focus forward....sales, opportunity and the rest will move to catch up to you.
When sales are down, go through the basics to ensure you are doing what you can to keep busy and then check in with how you are feeling. Is your eye on the prize? Are you feeling inspired? What CAN you do to keep moving forward. Doing this inventory of business basics and mindset can help get you through those sales slumps and keep you moving forward.