Q: How do I protect myself from income fluctuations? When I started my business, I had so many customers, I didn't have time for marketing activities. But now I've gone into my "sophomore slump," and I'm struggling to get enough business. What's the balance between serving customers and getting new ones?
A: You're fortunate to have started off with so much business. But it's important to focus on acquiring new customers, too. For many entrepreneurs, this means going to networking meetings, creating and maintaining a blog, making phone calls, putting out a newsletter, and participating on listservs and in online forums.
To find the balance you need to keep your business afloat, use our 5-5-5 marketing formula from our book Getting Business to Come to You. Initiate five different marketing activities each day. We suggest a mix of activities, because when you're starting out, you're not sure what methods will work best. Then, follow through every day on five activities from the prior day or week. For instance, if you sent a mailing to someone, follow up with a phone call the next week.
To keep business flowing despite the fact that you're busy, initiate and follow through on five activities per week instead of five per day. If there's a seasonal pattern to your business, you'll want to provide other types of services during the down period. Alternatively, use your lax season for more intensive marketing, or offer off-season specials.