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How to Survive Small Business Slumps

worried young woman

Winter business slump have you worried?

Anyone who has ever owned any type of business, home based or not, can tell you that there are seasons where your business will go through a slump. Sales will be lower, you’ll gain fewer clients, and those clients you have may be slow to pay. For most businesses, this slump occurs in the winter months (most typically January and February).

There are a few businesses where the slump might occur during other months, like summer. You can apply the principles below to any season of the year. Start planning now for a potential slump and you shouldn’t see much of a loss of income during that time.


If you need a steady income and are terrified of a slump, then you’ll want to put a backup plan in place. If your sales are almost nonexistent in January, what will you do to make money? There are many ways in this world to make money. Some are ideal and some are not, but remember that your slump should be short term. Here are some ideas for ways to make quick money in a pinch, whether you’ve planned ahead or not.

  • Get a seasonal job at a local retail store: Nearly every retail store hires extra staff for the holiday season. This is exactly the type of work you want. You don’t want anything permanent or in the rat race, but you need to survive your slump so you can continue to work from home. As an added bonus, many of these stores offer an employee discount which you can use to buy your holiday gifts for friends and family.
  • Sell arts, crafts, books, or whatever: Find the closest flea market. Today’s flea markets often rent space by the month. You can rent a small space and sell arts, crafts, your books, or just about anything else you can think of. You might even want to offer Christmas present wrapping services or personal shopper services during the busy December season.
  • Take on work for hire jobs: While writers shouldn’t sell themselves short or give their work away, if it comes down to feeding your family this month or doing a few articles for Associated Content or Demand Studios, then a few articles might not be a bad idea. If you can work fast enough to write an article an hour, you will make about $15 an hour. Another option is to take on work through sites like eLance.


Another option is to entice your customers to go ahead and buy your product or services by offering a limited time sale or a pre-sale. For example, if your business is promoting local businesses, then you might want to offer a two promotions for the price of one sale and give them a year to use the service. You won’t want to cut into your regular business, so you may want to think of services or products your clients use infrequently and entice them to give it a try. Another option is special promotions you wouldn’t normally do. Create a local holiday shopping newsletter and sell ads in it, for example.


If you plan ahead, you can likely take on extra work during your busy season and put that money back for the slump. If you are able to do this, you can use the slower time to promote your business and seek out new clients for the coming year. Many business owners also use the slow season to go through old files, do some basic organizing and figure out ways to streamline the process so they can work more efficiently.

If you have other ideas for overcoming small business slumps, post them below in the comments section.


Lori Soard has worked online designing websites, writing, editing and promoting clients since 1997. Through Promo Warriors, she's consulted with over 100 clients to help them figure out what online presence works best for them. In addition to helping people learn how to start their own businesses, she writes feel-good books about the way love and the world should be.