What to do when sales are slow?
The busy holiday season is over now and to be honest, things have been very slow. Very, very slow. Right now is an important time to really prove myself as an entrepreneur. If you read my S.L.O.W. manifesto (hopefully you have) then you should know that now is the time to work on the ‘Oxygen’ portion of your business during the ‘Off Season.’ If you need a refresher of what ‘Oxygen’ is then you need to go here.
Ok so going back to what I was saying. It’s slow. So what should I do? Yes it is known that January through March are typically the slowest time of the year in retail. The question is: How do you determine if this is just a temporary slowdown or if this is a telltale sign that the business is in trouble. Whatever the case may be, the time is now to make some adjustments in the business and also in my personal life. Here is what I am currently doing:
1) Reducing Business Expenses
- Reevaluate every single expense of the business. Getting rid of Shopify application add-ons that have no ROI. Running a website can be very costly so even asking for discounts from vendors is worth a shot. All you gotta do is ask…or threaten to cancel your subscription =)
- Stop taking advantage of my ‘Meals and Entertainment’ expense in order to free up more cash. No more expensive business meetings at fancy places!
- Slow down on marketing that doesn’t provide quick ROI results. Some examples of this are influencer marketing campaigns, website banner ads, paying for blog content and a big one was firing the SEO agency. These forms of marketing doesn’t allow you to track your CPA (cost per acquisition.) I’m at the point where I can only offer ‘trade for free product’ rather than monetary exchanges.
2) Taking Action
- Figure out what I can do myself without hiring someone. This includes: producing my own Instagram photos, writing my own blog content, hitting the reddit forums, learning how to optimize SEO on my website and sending our regular newsletters to my growing email list
- Attend local meetups with other entrepreneurs. You can learn a lot from other business owners and even validate business strategies
- Attend as many online summits and live podcasts to learn from successful entrepreneurs even if they may be trying to sell me something in the end. Free business advice is hot right now (Thanks Gary Vee) so take advantage while people are offering!
- Master a new skill. Recently I have expanding my knowledge of how to use Amazon. Selling on Amazon can be complex as things tend to change all the time with their updates. I am currently learning how to optimize my PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns to yield better results. A tedious and fun task when it works.
- Get back on trying to read a chapter a day of one of the two books I’m reading. Reading is fundamental (duh) and can be a good stress reliever.
3) Look for new Business Opportunities
Lately, I have been working on a new product that is outside the vaping world. Why? Because I am sick of having so many restrictions- mainly advertising roadblocks. In the vape world, you cannot use Google adwords, Facebook, pinterest, instagram advertising because it is labeled as tobacco. And even though these roadblocks have made me better at obtaining free organic traffic, it takes away at least 70-80% of relatively cheap advertising opportunities I can easily automate. Believe me, understanding SEO and discovering new white hat tricks can be very draining and can eat up a lot of your time. I will tell you that my new venture is going to be in the Yoga space and I’m primarily focusing on Amazon as my main distribution channel. The LLC has been formed and I’m already in the packaging design stage. I hope to announce what it is in the Spring.
For now, it's time to prove myself. Make adjustments, stay positive and keep learning.