Ran Out Of Work? Take These 5 Steps Right Now
Pick up old ties, form new ones, and reconsider previous projects
When starting a small business, momentum is key. The best way to achieve that momentum is by consistently turning over project after project.
But sometimes, work can begin to slow down, and at worst, completely stop.
Sustaining this momentum is a small business’s biggest problem and greatest challenge.
Get That Flow Going
You need to get a steady flow of work and regular clients. Having more work makes you more money. The more work you put out, the more you advertise yourself, which in turns brings in more potential work.
A steady stream of jobs helps to keep spirits and motivation high within the business. It will keep things exciting. It will help you to knuckle down and get shit done.
Work = Momentum = Potential Success
Unfortunately, sometimes it can be tough to get going.
For whatever reason, less leads start coming through the door and the pipeline begins to dry up. A lack of jobs turns up the pressure on the business and puts a strain on those involved. As the inquiries box remains empty, your cash flow begins to dissolve too.
A lack of work, and therefore momentum, can be the death of many small businesses.
What Can You Do When Work Dries Up?
Most importantly, don’t panic, and don’t give up!
Below are a few tactics to deploy in an attempt to plug empty voids with projects and jobs.
1. Reconnect with old clients
A brilliant method for breathing new life into your pipeline is to send a catch-up email or message to old clients. Choose those who you had a strong relationship with and who were happy with the work you did for them before.
Even if you just reach out to say hi, sometimes a conversation can lead to an, “Oh, I was actually meaning to ask you…”
And bingo. Potential lead.
2. Venture into different opportunities
Sometimes a dry spell is the perfect time to dip your toes into something new. How long the dry spell lasts before you branch out is your call. Whether it is a couple of weeks, or three months without work, everyone hangs on for different lengths of time.
This isn’t to say you need to pack up your bags and try a new business. Instead, branch out a little and explore what other possibilities exist.
Maybe there were opportunities you were unsure of taking on because they were a step out of your comfort zone. Or perhaps they didn’t sit quite right with the company portfolio.
If there is downtime available, using it to try different avenues could potentially open up many more doors for you.
If you have other interests or other skills, this is a great time to dabble. This is the era of the ‘side hustle’ after all — so why not learn some new skills and take on a different kind of work?
3. Take up projects you’d previously avoided
Similar to above, you may also have had opportunities in the past that at the time you didn’t want to get involved with.
We’ve all had those offers.
The kind of jobs you leave on the table. The ones that are forgotten the moment you find a job that excites you more. That’s understandable. It is, after all, one of the perks of running your own business — choosing your own path.
You can take these jobs up when there is nothing left on the table and do them to help boost cash flow and momentum. You may be surprised. Sometimes they even turn out pretty good.
4. Shameless self-promotion
Some companies build such good momentum that work finds them. Word-of-mouth, regular clients, whatever it is, they have it down. My company’s workload is almost entirely found through word-of-mouth. That is a great place to be.
But on occasion, we have had to shamelessly promote ourselves in the public space in the hopes of getting new projects.
If the jobs have stopped falling into your lap, it’s time to do some shameless PR. Print flyers, business cards, and posters and put them around.
Put up social media feelers, and let people know you are looking to take on new work/clients. (Try to not to make it too obvious this is due to no work, though. Always give the impression you are steady).
You might just get a bite on the line.
5. Make Time For Networking Events
Yes, they can be cringy and awkward. Yes, loads of them are a total waste of time. But in your situation of need, you have to take some chances.
It could happen over an on-the-fly fly meet-and-greet, or a sit-down conversation over a beer. “What do you do? Oh, that's great, we actually need this done…”
Whatever happens, make sure you are prepared. Have your pitches ready. If you have some branded clothing or promotional materials, make sure you have them on or at hand. You might only get one shot to land yourself some work, so be ready to grab it.
If you can grit your teeth enough to get through it, you might just catch your deserved break. Your network is your net worth, after all.
As mentioned above, work and momentum are tied together. With momentum steadily building, success becomes more and more achievable.
There is nothing to be ashamed about when work dries up — it happens to everyone.
The shame would be in sitting back and hoping it sorts itself out. It seldom will. So buckle up and push yourself out there.
If you dangle the golden carrot — in this case, your work and skills — someone will come over with interest. Then, you’ll be back onto that forward momentum in no time.