4 Tricks to Grow Your Business – Even When You’re Too Busy To Market

Is your business booming? Congratulations! Your clients are giving you more work than you can handle, or the orders are piling in – either way, you’re keeping so busy you barely have time to come up to breathe.

Having a full plate is great when you’re an entrepreneur, but with it comes a certain stress. In the back of your mind, you always know that the busy streak will come to an end if you don’t keep marketing your business.

But how can you keep growing your business when you’re completely overwhelmed with work you simply can’t put aside?

1. Go back to your base

If you’ve been in business for a while, chances are you’ve noticed various ebbs and flows. If you’re a freelancer, you may learn to expect down time during the summer when your clients are vacationing. If you own a retail business, you may routinely have a lull in sales during January.

If you know a lull is coming up, take a few minutes during your busy time to plan for it. It’s easier to drum up business from your existing customers than it is to attract new ones – so if you’re short on time, focus your efforts on your existing customer base. Here, a little effort can go a long way.

For a freelancer or service provider:

  • Send a quick note to past clients to say that you’ve got room in your schedule for September, say, and ask if they have any projects that you can take on.
  • If you’ve been wanting to expand your services, take a few minutes to contact past clients to let them know about your new offerings.
  • Send past clients a piece of news or an article you think they might enjoy. While not exactly marketing your services, you’re reminding them about you, and they may have work for you in the future.

If you own a retail business:

  • Plan a promotion to run during your slow time (like an after-Christmas sale) and send out a quick blast to let your email list, Facebook, and Twitter fans know about it.
  • Send out a newsletter with a quick update on anything new in your business, and highlighting upcoming product releases.
  • Send out a VIP coupon to your best customers, for use during the time you’ll be slow.

2. Research fresh leads

No matter how busy you are, your business does depend on growth. This may not be the time to start a huge PR push or to start on that website overhaul, but it’s still crucial to set aside a few hours each week for marketing. Set a sustainable target, whether it’s sending out PR packets to two new fashion editors each week, or letters of introductions to three potential clients.

When you’re busy, research can be a good way to keep on top of your marketing without it being too taxing. Give yourself permission to flip through your industry trade magazine, or scan your favorite blogs looking for places to advertise or companies to pitch.

Don’t let yourself get distracted. Set a timer, and make sure you’re just surfing places that are actually pertinent to your quest. Otherwise, it’s just procrastination.

Use a program like Evernote or Workflowy to keep an ongoing list of potential clients, markets, and blogs to advertise. Both programs sync across multiple devices, so you can jot things down wherever you find them.

3. Search for upcoming opportunities

Is there a trade show coming up? Industry conference? Networking event? Take a few minutes of your down time to research potential opportunities to put on your calendar. It would be terrible to miss out on an opportunity just because you were so busy you didn’t realize it was coming up.

If an event is happening right now, you may not have the bandwidth to add it to your already busy work schedule.

If you’re swamped, even thinking about attending an event that’s months can feel overwhelming. Mark it down on your calendar anyway, and then set yourself a reminder closer to the date to think about attending. Now may not be the best time to make that decision, so put it off to a time when you’ll be less overwhelmed.

4. Invest in your business

If you’re flush with work, hopefully you’ve got a little extra cash, too. Be sure to put aside something to live off of when things slow down – but also consider that this could be a good time to invest in your business.

    • Is your computer on its last legs?
    • Is your website due for an overhaul?
    • Have you been eyeing a new invoicing software, or needing to update your business cards?
    • Would a new sewing machine speed up your production process?
    • Is it time to invest in expanding your product line?
    • Is there a class you’ve been wanting to take to expand your skills?

Think of these things as a reward for working so hard – and on the plus side they’ll help you earn more in the future.

Another thing that could be worth the splurge is advertising. Not all businesses benefit from splashy advertising, but if you think it could help you drum up future business, consider splurging on a full-color ad in your industry magazine, or a flashy sidebar ad in that influential blog.

What techniques have you used to keep marketing even when you’re busy?

Tell us in the comments below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lisa Stein owns FreelanceMom.com, is a college business professor and a mom to Gabriela and Elle. Lisa is dedicated to playing a part in helping women and moms run a business they love, help support themselves and their family and create a flexible lifestyle. You can find her online on Facebook and Twitter or at home burning something in the kitchen.