Never Say You Are Too Busy
Being a business owner is busy work. This should be expected, especially if you are running a small business that is having a great influx of work. This is a problem that many starter businesses wish they had. Yet, when the time comes, many small business owners decide to stop taking clients or express how busy they are. Perhaps in hopes of conveying to their clients that if any work was turned in late, they should remember that it is a very busy time and not something that happens normally.
This makes sense to the business owner. But to the clients, it is interpreted differently. Whenever you say you are too busy, you are giving the impression that you are not capable of carrying out the duties that you made yourself responsible for. This is a big red flag for your business and referrals. And it can cause permanent damage to your business and client-base. Even when we think that being busy is synonymous with being "desired", it is not. Being busy and being productive do not necessarily go hand-in-hand.
One of the most common solutions to having a busy season is to stop accepting clients for a definite or indefinite time. This hurts a business's ability to grow and expand. You shouldn't expect those clients that once reached out to you, to be there when you are ready. By the time your business stabilizes again, they will have established a relationship with another organization and it will be too late. All the work you did that led to these new clients being referred to you is now lost or severely affected.
Another common solution is to warn clients that it is a busy season and they should be patient. This is not a good idea. As much as we like to think we have a great relationship with our clients, they are still expecting what is promised and they paid for a service to be done in a prompt manner. Not only, will they be apathetic about your current situation and cry, but they will be concerned that you may not deliver on time. This causes many clients to part ways or stop adding additional tasks or work.
What Do I Do?
First, breathe and relax a little. Being busy is a good thing and chances are, you are experiencing normality instead. As I mentioned above, every business owner is busy. This is something that you want to experience and rejoice on slower days later, rather than the other way around.
- Time Management - Start by adjusting your time to manage your projects in a more accommodating timeline. Most clients will be fine with the initial timeline you provide. If you promise the job will be done too quickly, you are not giving yourself time for any hiccups you may experience along the way that can affect that timeline. This includes allowing for personal time, emergency time off, walk-in clients, training time, etc.
- Internships - Most college students need to build a portfolio or some experience before they dive into an already extremely competitive market. Putting an add on the local paper or contacting your local college offering internship opportunities can open your schedule to allow for an extra set of hands. They are free and all you need to do is evaluate their performance and teach them the ropes.
- Keep it in the family - If you have a mom-n-pops business, you could do some digging through your younger relatives to see who would be willing to make some extra income temporarily.
- Hire staff - This can be an extreme and some times needed measure, however it comes with a huge tax overhead and laws. But only if you hire full-time workers. Consider hiring part-time temp workers. You will not be required to provide benefits and they are aware that they are hired for a period of time only.
- Local Paid Help - In some industries, such as construction and contracting, many people are willing to help for a day or two on a specific project. There is no payroll requirement and it is often a daily rate.
In conclusion, there are many things you can do besides the ones I mentioned. You just need to be creative and accept that being busy is just what you really want to be. Adjust your schedule for 6 hours of work a day instead of 8 hours, seek help, move all projects at an equal pace instead of one at a time. Do whatever you have to do to keep clients coming in, but do not under any circumstances stop accepting clients or complain about being too busy. The last thing you want is to not be busy at all.