Feast or famine is a terrible place to be in your business.
It happens for two reasons. I want to talk about what each of those reasons is and talk about some ways that you can fix them, regardless of your situation.
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So what are the two main causes of feast or famine in a business?
- The first one is just natural seasonal fluctuations, especially if you have a seasonal business or all businesses tend to have slower seasons, depending on the industry that you’re in.
- The second cause of feast or famine is actually a problem with your marketing plan.
Feast or Famine Reason #1: Seasonal Fluctuations
Let’s start off with natural seasonal fluctuations.
This is one that we think is normal and that there’s nothing we can do about it, but there actually is.
Read on for 4 ways to deal with natural seasonal fluctuations.
#1 Budget accordingly so that you’re not suffering in your slower seasons or your off-seasons.
This means making sure that you’re setting enough of your profit aside during your busy seasons. The goal is to maintain your business and your own salary or your payroll throughout those slower seasons.
Additionally, this should be money separate from your business emergency fund because this is not an emergency, this is a season.
Which means it happens again and again, and you can plan for it. Your emergency fund is for things that you cannot plan for.
Let me reiterate this.
If you have a seasonal business and you make $10,000 in your good months, and you make $1,000 in your low months, you need to pretend that you did not just make $10,000.
You need to pretend that you made $5,000 because the rest of that money needs to be paying for your business in those off-seasons.
This is why it’s feast and famine because we don’t budget the revenues and the profits according to the actual seasons. We just take it when we get it and then go without it when we don’t.
Here are a few blog posts to help you build your business emergency fund:
- How Much Should You Have In Your BUSINESS Savings Account/Emergency Fund?
- 4 Self-Audits That Will Make Your Business More Productive and Profitable
- How To Create A Business Budget Using YNAB
- 12 Recession Proof Business Tips to Help You Survive and Thrive
#2 Plan your vacation or your downtime in those off-seasons.
I know this sounds obvious, but if you’re a seasonal business, it’s easy to want to take vacations when everybody else takes vacations.
In which, taking a vacation when everyone else takes one may not necessarily be the smartest time for you and your business.
Therefore, if you take time off in your busy season, then you’re going to end up losing that revenue, not having it for your off-season.
So kind of think of it as a bonus tip.
It’s not going to necessarily even out your feast or famine too much, but it is going to help you make sure that it’s not worse than it needs to be.
#3 Use your off-seasons for planning, strategizing, and organizing.
Do not plan, strategize and organize during your busy seasons, right?
You need to make hay while the sun shines. And if the sun is shining in the summertime, you need to be putting all of your time and energy into marketing and sales, and revenue-generating activities.
Then, in the wintertime, you can do all the organizing.
This might mean in the summertime things are a little bit crazy and chaotic.
But, in the wintertime, you’re going to get them figured out and organize better systems in place so that the next summertime they’re not as crazy.
But you need to make sure that you’re planning according to your seasons. And you’re not allowing yourself to spend time and energy when it’s not appropriate for you to do so.
Make sure that you are putting all of your time and energy into making revenue in your busy seasons.
Nothing else belongs in those seasons except income-producing activities.
#4 Don’t just accept it.
Don’t just say, this is my slow season and therefore, I just don’t make that much money.
I want you to get creative.
I want you to figure out how you can increase revenue, increase sales in those slow months.
Here are a two ways to not just accept it:
#1 Ask yourself why people aren’t buying now and what they’re buying instead.
This might give you some clues as to where you could be putting your time and energy.
For example (this is probably an obvious example if you’re actually in this industry), if you do lawn maintenance in the summertime, well, in the wintertime, it’s snowing, you don’t really have lawns to maintain.
But maybe your services changed a little bit in the wintertime and you’re shoveling snow instead.
Look again to see what is the thing that’s stopping them. And then how can I make sure that I’m offering something that’s still on-brand with my business?
You know, I’m still taking care of people’s yards, but now I’m doing it in a different way on these off-seasons.
#2 Pre-sell services that you’re not going to actually provide until later on down the road or in the correct season.
Provide something like a seasonal discount or a promotion.
You can offer a discount on those services or products provided just to increase your bookings or increase your sales during that time.
Maybe you’re going to do gift cards.
If you slow down over the Christmas holiday because everybody’s money is going towards Christmas gifts, can you work that into your own business model?
You can promote gift cards for your clients or customers to buy instead.
Don’t take slow seasons lying down.
Don’t just accept it as the norm, really ask yourself, what else could I provide?
Or what could I provide in a new way to be able to increase my revenue and break this feast or famine cycle?
Even out your revenue so that it’s not all happening in one time of the year.
Feast or Famine Reason #2: Your Marketing
Now, let’s talk about marketing.
This is one that we think is normal and that there’s nothing we can do about it, but there actually is.
Read on for 4 ways to deal with business marketing woes.
#1 There might be a marketing problem.
This is where we do enough marketing to get stuff coming in.
And then we shift our energy to the things that have come in and we’re spending all of our time and resources providing the product or service that was just sold.
Ultimately, neglecting our marketing in the meantime.
So this means as we’re doing this, our marketing starts to dwindle.
New things are not coming in. These things have wrapped up.
Then we come back over here and we’re like, oh crap, I have no money. And we hustle, hustle, hustle trying to get the marketing back up to par.
We’ve got to fix this problem if we want to fix the feast or famine problem. The way that I teach this in the Inner Circle is about buckets versus pipelines.
#2 What are buckets and pipelines?
- Buckets are the active things that you do to bring in new business, right? It’s the marketing and sales that require your time and energy on an ongoing basis.
- Pipelines are the things that you can create that will continue to run in the background for you.
What you get to figure out is:
- How many buckets do I need to create to get things going?
- How much time can I set aside on a weekly or monthly basis to build the pipeline?
And then make sure that you are:
- Continuing to do a minimum number of buckets every week or every month
- And a minimum amount on that pipeline on a consistent basis
Perform all of this so that your buckets initially bring in the business. This will result in your pipeline continuously bringing in new or returning customers.
Here’s the thing that matters though. Read on….
#3 Buckets are fast and pipelines are slow.
Therefore, don’t spend all your time building a pipeline, or you’re not going to have any business in the meantime.
You’re going to be in famine mode until that pipeline gets finished, which can take a long time.
You need to be hauling the buckets.
The buckets bring in business and over time the pipeline slowly replaces your buckets activities.
But one of the most important things you can do when it comes to this is protecting your time to market.
It doesn’t matter how much business you have now.
It should not take away from your ability to bring in more.
Your sales and marketing account for a certain number of hours in your week, or maybe in your month.
Take note of the following takeaways for buckets and pipelines:
- You must have that time set aside.
- You must protect that time.
- And you must not let the business that it has created overrun the marketing needed to create new business.
Or you will fall into that feast and famine cycle again.
The way to get out of feast and famine if it’s not a seasonal thing, it’s about consistency.
Make sure you know the minimum amount of time that needs to go into marketing and protecting that time at all costs. This will help you keep things coming back in.
You’ve got to remember that the marketing you do now is the business you’re going to have three, six, and 12 months from now.
So if you stop now (because business is busy), that’s really shortsighted. You’re saying, well, business is busy now, and it’s going to be busy forever, right?
That doesn’t make any sense.
The marketing you did six months ago, got you busy now.
The marketing you’re doing now keeps you busy six months from now.
Find that consistent marketing pace, that consistent marketing plan. And protect it at all costs so that you can make sure you stay busy down the road.
#4 Work on creating reoccurring revenue in your business.
Whether you are dealing with natural seasonal fluctuations or just inconsistent marketing, there is one thing that you need to do to try to fix this.
Work on creating reoccurring revenue in your business.
There are three ways to do this. I am going to list in order of the least preferred way to the most preferred way.
Option 1: Sell Ad Space
For example, if you have a building, putting a billboard on the side of it. Or if you have a blog, selling some space on that blog.
This is the least preferred because it could be the thing that dilutes what you’re doing. It dilutes your branding and your messaging for your own clients.
It’s much better to focus on marketing your own business than advertising somebody else’s.
But if there is a way that that makes sense, do it.
For example, I have a YouTube channel, there are ads on this YouTube channel that creates a monthly recurring revenue for me.
If you have something like that in your business, that can make sense for you that is a good thing to implement.
Option 2: Add Consumable Products
Next, look, to see if you can add consumable products that still match your business, match your branding, but that encourage repeat purchases.
Again, this won’t work with every business or every industry, but just ask yourself, “is there something that applies? “
Health products, beauty products, home products, something that would fit with what my business is about, and that would serve my clients and still be on-brand for me.
Option 3: Try a Subscription Model
And lastly, would a subscription model make more sense?
You can do a subscription model with services, with products, or even content.
And again, this doesn’t fit every business or every industry, but is there a way you could implement this into your own business?
What would that look like for you?
All in all, boss….
With any of these options, this creates a monthly recurring revenue that you can count on that will always pay your bills.
It may fluctuate a little bit as people come in and out of it, but it’s fairly steady and fairly reliable for you to count on in those slower seasons.
Just make sure that you’re not trying to add on more revenue streams before you’ve actually mastered or maxed out your first option.
I want you to remember more revenue streams will not fix a marketing problem.
It gives you more things to market, which means less opportunity to do so.
You want to make sure that you figured out one really solid offer before you start adding in other things and diluting your time and energy further.
And, if you want to understand more about this, make sure to check out this blog post on why multiple streams of revenue might not be a good idea for you.
In fact, in most cases is a really bad idea until you get to a certain place in your business.
Still wondering how to break the feast or famine cycle in your business?
If you want help figuring out how to break the feast or famine cycle in your own business, be sure to check out my Healthy Hustle Roadmap.
The training will show you the three mistakes small business owners are making and introduce you to the approach and strategies that I teach to help you create a reliable revenue stream, a reliable business in under 40 hours a week.
You can grab a free seat for that class by clicking the below.
What about you, boss?
Tell us your verdict. Is your business feast or famine?
Scroll down to leave your comments.