It’s fall…as a business owner what should you be focusing on?

Fall is such a distracting time for me. The weather changes, there’s excitement because it’s football season, and on the coast we start fishing more.

It’s so hard as business owners to pull our heads out of the day-to-day or week-to-week grind of running a company. We’re too distracted by client deadlines, tasks and managing employees to look into the future far enough to be intentional in our businesses.

Being intentional means looking ahead and doing what needs to be done today, next week and next month to set up leads and projects for the next four months. The other option is to continue to drift through the weeks, and panicking when times get tough.

It’s the beginning of fall, let’s think about how we can make our businesses secure until winter.

Is winter your slow season?

When we were a web development shop, we found that after October 30th, no new large contracts were signed. This happened due to our clients’ budget constraints, vacations, the holiday season, and the general procrastination of “We’ll start in the new year.”

I love watching the TV show Mountain Men because they’re in a constant state of preparing for winter, storing up food, readying their homes, and organizing for their “slow season.” Your business requires food/fuel too–it’s called “money.” Start preparing your business’s cash pad and examining your cash flow.

Stock up. Winter is coming.

Many clients’ budgets start over on January 1. Maybe they’ve been conservative in their spending this year and they have some budget left. Follow up with all your clients and pitch them ideas of how they can use their remaining balance with you.

Many smart business owners are also preparing during this time for spring promotions and launches. If they’re planning to promote themselves in the spring, winter is the time to design/build/architect those promotions and launches.

Don’t just send one email, use followup.cc or boommarang to send them at least three emails about a potential end-of-year project before giving up.

Ways to promote yourself in the holiday season?

For most of us, including me, trying to get “new clients” is painful because it’s a stretch of our personality. Doing something different is outside of my comfort zone. So I feel your pain, but here are some ideas.

You’re the expert to your clients, so teach them something. Find where they hang out, such as online forums, Twitter, co-working spaces, mastermind groups, and maybe even their local chamber of commerce. Offer to teach them something (in a non-salesy way). For us, we’re offering free bookkeeping jumpstarts for our AutoPilot program. My pitch is you should sign up for our autopilot bookkeeping program to avoid bookkeeping hassles and headaches around tax time next year. FYI: I’m teaching you something right now in exchange for telling you about our bookkeeping program 😉

Promote to Your Existing Clients

This goes along with my previous section. What should your clients be doing right now to get ready for next year? You’re the expert, teach them what you know. Use SendBloom.co or Outreach.io and set up an end-of-year drip campaign that sends them one tip per month on gearing up for 2016.

Get New Clients

  • Ask for referrals: it’s never a bad time to ask for referrals. Here’s an article on how to ask for a referral.
  • New advertising channels: remember this time of year is noisy for your clients and they might miss your advances. Try something new, maybe that’s retargeting, or Twitter ads, or Facebook ads.
  • Local clients: if you have local clients, you’re in luck. A silly idea would be to buy/rent a Santa suit and show up at their offices and hand out candy to their employees.
  • Use email: send your clients something via mail as a surprise. Check out this article on unique client gifts.

Setting up easy sales for mid-January.

Okay, some clients just aren’t going to buy during the holiday season, but how do you prime up a client for a sale in January when things calm down?

It takes work, because each situation is different. Something to think about again would be setting up an email drip campaign for each client that expressed interest. These emails are spread out over the course of a few months. They don’t sell your product–they build the client’s interest, ideas and project momentum.

Example: let’s say you’re a web designer and you think a client is likely to buy a redesign in January. Starting now, I would set up a drip email campaign (using the apps mentioned previously). These emails would link, summarize articles about new trends in design, explain A/B testing, talk about new ways to handle content marketing, etc. You’re slowly educating the client, slowly giving them ideas, slowly selling yourself as the expert in the space. Then in January you swoop in for a sale.

Tax planning? Call your accountant.

Ugh, taxes, stop pretending they don’t exist. Be proactive with your accountant to avoid tax surprises next year. Let’s be adults and not bury our heads in the sand and whine about the consequences later.

Schedule a call with your accountant and discuss getting prepared for tax season. A good accountant can help you ease the pain of your past procrastinations. If your books are a mess, hand over these tasks to us with our bookkeeping autopilot program.

Don’t let seasonal distractions prevent you from planning for next year. Take a lesson from the farmers who harvest in the fall and plant in the winter, so they can reap the rewards in the spring of the new year. It’s October, start now!

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