FEAST? OR FAMINE? WHICH ONE ARE YOU?

Posted by the7stages on June 11, 2014
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FEAST? Or FAMINE? WHICH ONE ARE YOU?

Make Your Small Business a Winner: Sales cycles: feast or famine

Most business owners would love to be so busy that clients are lined up waiting for their services. Do you want to know how to smooth out the ups and downs of the Feast-or-Famine Syndrome?

Many business owners are familiar with the term feast or famine, especially when it comes to operating a business. Feast or famine indicates the extremes associated with the highs and lows in sales revenue.

DEFINITION:

Feast or famine usually refers to a business operating the entire year which experiences extreme highs or lows. During the peak months more than enough opportunities, sales, services and products for income exist. It is during this feast one must beef up production, hire additional employees or expand hours of operation to meet the demand and many times, must place customers on a waiting list, or turn away business altogether.

Yet, all too often a recurrent theme is realized: feast or famine. The weather now cold or wet with its unfavorable climate has declined the demand for seasonal goods. In spite knowing that the famine, or the slowest and sometimes hardest time of year is approaching, many business owners continue to find themselves struggling.

If you’ve experienced feast and famine, you will know that a feast is more like a treadmill, whereas famine is more like famine! This phrase is applied most often to service organizations, but it can happen to any business.

At feast time you are rushed off your feet, thinking only about delivery. You will have no time for building your pipeline and finding your next new customers.

When famine hits you may just have emerged from a busy period, with no prospect of an order in sight. It will be hard to cope without the pressure you’ve been used to. You may lose momentum, or worse, motivation.

WHY FEAST AND FAMINE HAPPENS IN THE BUSINESS WORLD?

First:

It starts when you finally figure out or learn how to bring at least some clients in. It works, and clients arrive.

Eventually you get busy with these clients, and you do less of, or stop doing entirely, those things that brought the clients in. But it’s okay, you’re loving working with your clients, and getting paid!

Second:

Then, inevitably, one of your clients completes with you and moves on. “Okay,” you say to yourself, “No sweat. It’s just one client.” Then another completes. And another.

Soon your schedule is a bit more open than you are comfortable with, so you decide it’s time to go and get some clients, so you start doing those things again that worked last time.

Too late, the famine is upon you. Some mighty lean weeks or even months crop up. You work really hard, and clients start coming back in again. And so the cycle repeats.

WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD I ASK MYSELF?

  • Do you have feast and famine months in your small business?
  • Times when you’re so busy you don’t know where to turn and then times when it’s so quiet that you’re desperately willing the phone to ring with a new customer?
  • Are you putting so much effort into providing top notch service to your existing customers that you don’t have time to get out and look for new ones?

AVOIDING FEAST VS. FAMINE

When you’re in a “feast” situation, it’s often hard to find time to get out and look for consulting work.

  • When you’re in a “feast” situation, it’s often hard to find time to get out and look for consulting work.
  • Get another job
    • Deal with downtime by getting another jobs. Many successful consultants have turned to office temp work, part-time jobs, and casual work to get through slow periods. 

10-strategies-for-managing-the-feast-or-famine-job-shop

Avoiding the feast and famine cycle is one of the hardest parts of small business sales and one of the key early focuses of my small business coaching.

It’s hard because in the famine times:

  • you’ll be frustrated at the lack of activity
  • you’ll be stressed about maintaining cash flow
  • you’ll doubt your ability and business idea
  • you’ll waste money with knee jerk advertising

WHAT IS THE SECRET?

The secret, of course, is never to stop growing your business; never to stop looking for the next

opportunity, no matter how busy you are now.  Either that, or plan positively for a period where

you will survive on the proceeds of the feast, and not expect to earn much, instead putting a huge

effort into marketing and sales. If you take this route, do it in the knowledge of how long it takes

you to win business.

EXAMPLES:

a)      As a consultant, you average 9 months before you close a big project, then with no pipeline, you might have to plan for a year of famine – can you cope with that, both personally and financially?

b)      If you are a manufacturer, you’ll be able to more accurately estimate your production needs, thereby reducing inventory and improving cash flow. Or if you are a wholesaler, you’ll be better equipped to manage your buying volumes throughout the year, and so forth.

c)      Even the best writer goes through the feast-or-famine cycle. It can be a scary ride, but if you plan right — and trust that there’s always work out there for a good freelancer — you’ll be just fine.

Carl Gould is a business strategist, and growth expert. He has written 5 books in the area of creating business success, and is the co-host of the weekly radio program, ‘Quit and Get Rich’ (www.gteamradio.com). Carl and his team of experts advise companies and organizations to grow to the next level. What is the next level for you?

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