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Seven Ways Business Owners Can Beat the January Doldrums

Seven Ways Business Owners Can Beat the January Doldrums

Well, it's after Christmas -- and after the after-Christmas sales.

For many businesses, especially in retail and ecommerce, January can be a dead month -- even in a good economy. Employee morale may plummet, and yours may not be so upbeat, either.

How can you perk up your post-holiday bottom line? Here are seven suggestions:

  1. Have a clearance party. If you need to clear out leftovers from holiday time, make an event out of it. Maybe give customers who turn up first pick of your new merchandise, too.

    Related: How to Make Your Marketing Work Together
     
  2. Take a poll. Now is a great time to involve customers -- letting them help shape your plans for 2012. Give limited-time coupons to participants and up your winter traffic. Then, when you give customers exactly what they asked for, they'll flock back.
  3. Trim expenses. This lull is a great time to revisit all those niggling little costs that bug you, but you never have time to address. Get new, competitive bids on your phone service, insurance, copying, shipping, accounting and any other outsourced, independent services. Remember, spending less grows your net income just as much as selling more does.
  4. Network. Take advantage of the downtime to get to those networking events you've been meaning to attend. Or maybe start a new mastermind group of local business owners and play host. 
  5. Buy closeouts. Be on the lookout for stores that are closing down after the holidays, and see what you can snap up at bargain prices. You can also attend merchandise auctions, or hit closeout websites online. In this economy, there should be tons of activity for the next couple of months, as retail losers ditch their leftovers. Remember, the secret of many big retail chains' profits is end-caps full of $1 items they bought for a penny.
  6. Look for opportunities. Are new retail spaces opening up near you? January is a time when desperate landlords make deals to keep stores occupied. If competitors are going bust or scaling back, it might be time to market more aggressively to capture market share.

    Related: How to Compete -- and Win -- When Rivals Cut Prices
     
  7. Learn. Take a class, attend a conference, or connect with a mentor. Read more widely to understand trends in your industry. Make sure you're keeping up with the technology you need for success -- if you're boggled by how to make your website more mobile-friendly or how to create an app, now's the time to solve it. Increasing your knowledge and skills now will lay the groundwork for success in 2012, no matter what the economy does.

How will you beat the January blues? Leave a comment and add your strategy to the list.

Carol Tice, a freelance writer, is chief executive of TiceWrites Inc. in Bainbridge Island, Wash. She blogs about freelance writing at Make a Living Writing. Email her at carol@caroltice.com.

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