Slow season is here. I’m feeling it and I know that you are too. I’ve had several people reach out to me, desperate for business advise because they think they’re doing something wrong. But the reality is that I’ve been telling everyone since October to work as much as possible, take advantage of the holiday season and save money for the slow season because things do slowdown in January and especially in February. Come March, things do start to pick up again and you’ll forget February ever happened!
So, what do I do during slow season? I’m going to share with you the top 20 things that I do to keep me busy but efficient.
1. The first thing is DO NOT PANIC. Understand that this is all part of the game. Even super busy businesses go through slow seasons, and this is in no way a reflection of you and your business but rather people are recovering from holiday expenses and vacations, kids are back in school, among other reasons. For me, since I’m in Orlando, Fl, it’s a little cold right now, so usually people will vacation in warmer weather and weddings typically start picking up again around springtime. In this business, I have noticed a consistent decline in orders twice a year—in February, and August/early September. For August/early September it’s because it’s end of summer, people are going back home, students are returning to school, etc. Wedding season picks up again in mid-September and continues into January of the following year.
2. Organize your business and policies. This is the time to look at all your documents. If you find anything that you’d like to add, change, or remove, you now have the time to do so! Think about what worked for you in the previous year, what policies you’d like to implement, pick up time changes, deposit requirement changes, and the most important, pricing.
3. Do inventory. I love this part of my business because it truly makes me feel very efficient. In doing inventory, I can make a list of the items that I consistently use in my business and if I’m running low, then I can make my purchases accordingly so that I’m not running around last minute trying to gather my supplies when orders do start to pick up again. I even have a spreadsheet of every single item that I use in my business, and I update that every so often. Also, by keeping inventory, it prevents me from purchasing double items.
4. Connect with vendors. You’ve been eyeing an event planner for a while, or a caterer, photographer, venue manager, whatever the case may be, but because you’ve been so busy with orders and customers, you haven’t had the chance to make networking connections. Now is the time to do this! Reach out to them in an email, or even a phone call and introduce yourself. Ask if they would like to meet up for a casual chat, coffee, drinks, light apps, and while you’re at it, bring them some cupcakes. People LOVE getting cupcakes. This also gives them an opportunity to try to cakes, and they can recommend you because they know what it tastes like!
5. Send marketing emails to your customers and THANK YOU promo. This is a huge marketing strategy that I implement in the last few weeks of February. I love to send promo emails, reach out to my customers and offer a deal they can’t resist. Especially those customers that order from me several times in a year, this is the time that they take advantage of those deals. So, I offer cake & treat packages. I have 3 options right now, but I am working on 2 other options. My smallest package is Package A and is valued at $240. I will send an email blast and offer 25% off any of the packages, but here’s the catch…it must be paid in full. If the client chooses Package A, this is $60 discount. In the grand scheme of things, to me $60 is not a big difference but it is to my client. This will bring their total to $180 and for them it’s a steal. If in the first week of my offer I book 5 Package As, this brings me $900 for that week. By doing this, although I am not producing actual products, I am still bringing in consistent income.
6. Work on dummies and your portfolio. If you’re anything like me, you have a ton of saved photos on your phone of cake designs you’ve seen that you love, and you want to recreate a version of it but because of the demand of orders you just haven’t had the time to make! Take advantage of this time and create a few of them. Yes, you’re investing money and utilizing your supplies but this is a very good investment because not only are you being in full control of the design, you are also showcasing what you can do! Sometimes clients bring us photos and it’s the same design, same theme and style over and over again and honestly sometimes I get bored! But when I get the opportunity to create and have total creative control, I can truly show my artistic talent, take all the photos and videos, and post them. Your followers and customers don’t need to know that those are just for fun, they don’t need to know that you’re going through slow season. Keep your portfolio fresh and update as you wish.
7. Prepare holiday cakes. Ok, I know this is crazy to even think about but yes! The next big holiday is Easter and while it’s still almost 2 months away, take this time to prepare the menu that you want to offer, and the mock cake & treat samples you’re going to offer. Take those pictures and videos and have them ready to post when the time comes. Stay ahead of the game! I would even go as far as creating cake designs for holidays for the rest of the year! Easter, 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving and before you know it, it’s Christmas again!
8. Read a business book. To me, reading has become a crucial part of my business. I didn’t go to business or marketing school, so I make sure that I am reading material from people that are successful in their field. It doesn’t necessarily have to be related to cake business, but you can take any business and marketing strategy from any business, and you can implement it in your own business. Here are some of my favorites:
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Unleash Your Lady Boss by Stephanie Peters
The Success Principles by Jack Canfield
Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
9. Create content. You can record yourself making one of those dummy cakes, and you can break down each separate piece and out of 1 cake be able to take out at least 5 video clips for Tik Tok or Instagram reels. You can use these on the days that you don’t necessarily have a “new” cake to post. Or, if you already have some videos saved on your phone, take small clips from them, and use those as new content. Add a trending sound or song and bam! It’s a brand new video!
10. Catch up on self-care. This one is so tough because when we get so busy, we forget to take care of ourselves and at times our health and basic needs take the backseat. Take this down time to finally make those doctor appointments, get that pedicure you’ve been needing for so long, book that hair appointment, invite a friend to a movie, go to that restaurant you’ve been wanting to go for a while, research and book that much needed vacation, plan your kid’s birthday parties for the year, take day naps, and purposely block dates from your calendar that you absolutely will not take orders so that you can actually have a life.
11. Organize your work area. Organization for me is so important because it really helps me keep myself on track. I’m the type of person that can easily become overwhelmed, and this is true to most artists. We need a clean and organized space to work efficiently. I cannot focus on my work if I must constantly look for that fondant mold, or I can’t find those scissors. If you have a designated area in your home where you keep your supplies, find ways to organize it so that you can increase the space that you have, and label every single bin, every single drawer, so that you know exactly where to look to get what you need. Organize it in a way that it makes sense to you.
12. Write down your goals for the year. These can range from financial goals to connections.
Financial goals: how much money do you want to make in sales per month? How will you achieve this? What marketing strategies will you implement?
Connections: schedule meetings with creators or even vendors. Is there a venue you’d like to deliver to or work with?
Personal goals: lose those 10 lbs. Begin an exercise regimen. Daily prayer and meditation, daily journal.
Let go of a bad habit: smoking? Inorganization? Not responding to phone calls? – this is a HUGE one for me. I HATE answering and talking on the phone but I realize that clients WANT that phone call and that connection so my goal is to let go of this bad habit and make phone calls a crucial part of my business.
Create a new good habit: going for daily walks, eating more vegetables and fruits, smiling more.
The key to writing down your goals is to set deadlines as well. When we have deadlines, we know that we HAVE to work toward those goals, and it truly sets us up for either we accomplish them, or we don’t. It sets us up in high gear and work mode to make sure we work toward those goals and accomplish them.
13. Listen to podcasts! I’m totally not being biased by this, LOL! I promise! Prior to me starting my BAKING A BOSS Podcast, I was and still am and advent podcast listener. I prefer listening to podcasts than binging on a new tv series. Why? Because I love submerging myself into new possibilities and opportunities. I don’t claim to have all the answers, so because of this, I want to learn as much as I can about business and financial freedom. Here are some of my favorites right now:
Yo Quiero Dinero by Janesse Torres
Journey to Launch by Jamila Souffrant
The Latina Advocate by Lola Bovell
14. Enhance your website. If you have a website, take this time to update those photos, create an email list, and add or delete any products. I for instance am no longer interested in making shooters or chocolate covered pretzels. I HATE THEM! So I deleted them from the products that I’m offering moving forward. I have also updated my menu. I took a look at the most popular flavors and the not so popular flavors and I removed the not so popular. For instance, I realized that not so many people ordered the lemon cake, but I did get a ton of request for Brandy/Rum flavor. I removed lemon and added brandy to my menu. If you don’t have a website, take this time to create one. I know that it can be intimidating but it truly is not. I love to use WIX. It’s very user friendly and they already have website templates that you can use, and just change the colors or font, add or delete photos and tan-tan, you’re good to go. They also have really great website and customer support. Having a website is so important! This will also increase your visibility. We should not be relying on social media solely.
15. Clean up social media. Unfollow those pages that are not relative to your business. Celebrities, meme pages, etc. Use your personal page for that. Only follow the accounts that are relative to your business. Also, if there are any cake pics and videos that you feel like you don’t want to make that design again, take it down. Clients are more likely to order from you based on what they see on your socials and website because they will get what your style is. If there are posts that just didn’t do well, delete them. Any personal photos (you in front of a mirror showing off your new outfit) delete. As a client, I don’t want to see that. Use your personal page for that.
16. Do a live Q&A for your followers. This could either be on Facebook, Tik Tok, or Instagram. Engage with your followers. This allows them to build trust in you, get to know you a little more, your personality and connect with them.
17. Tidy up your home. Those clothes hanging in your closet that you haven’t worn in years? Donate them. Your overfilled drawers? Fold and repeat my friends! Organize your home! Get rid of clutter. Any expired medication, cleaning products, old sheets and towels, worn out jewelry, CDs, DVDs, old pillows. Toss! Clean your homes! You will feel so much better and this will allow you to focus on your business.
18. Connect with an old friend. I can’t tell you how many times my best friend and I have tried to meet up for lunch or coffee and work always ends up getting in the way. We joke around and say, “well, I guess I’ll see you next year!” Take this time and give someone a call, catch up on your friendships, bring them coffee and cupcakes at work. Your friends will appreciate it, and also, it’s a way for their coworkers to meet you and taste your products. Win – win!
19. Spend time with your family. In the daily hustle of work, I lay down at night and realize how little time I spend with my husband and kids. Between work and school and daily activities, time really does pass us by and before we know it, we are missing out. Take this time to spend as much time as you can with them. Remember this feeling and remember to block out dates every month so that you can spend more time with them.
20. Do nothing. It’s totally ok to not do any of the things above. If you just want to sit and watch tv, stay in your pajamas and sleep, it’s ok too. This is your body telling you, “I am tired, and I need a reset”. Enjoy this time. Before you know it, we’ll be busy again!