As a small business owner, I know what it takes to keep the new business pump primed. It’s an ongoing process — you can’t afford to let up for even one day. Do it right, and chances are you’ll have enough work to keep you and your team busy, or at least working at an even pace.
So what happens when you find yourself in the enviable position of having a new business pipeline that’s overflowing? You could panic. Or rejoice. Or, like most entrepreneurs, a mix of both. Or, you could relax and execute your plan for peak season. It all boils down to that old Scouting credo: Be prepared. If you’re in the creative business, here are a few things to consider:
1. Work your resources. Whether it’s employees, part-time or freelance professionals, have your bench stocked with talent. Let employees know in advance that a busy few days (or weeks) are coming. Let them know you’re counting on them to help you meet the client’s needs, but …
2. Don’t work your staff to a frazzle. Asking them to work extra hard to meet an occasional tough deadline is one thing. Doing so on a regular basis is another — and bad — thing. Know what your staff can do, when they are likely to hit a wall, and be prepared to share the load with freelance or part-time talent. Fresh eyes and attitudes not only help the work get done, it motivates your team to do even more.
3. Dig in yourself and supervise the work. You can’t expect your staff to handle the heavy lifting and manage extra resources too. That’s your job. Make sure the work being done is to your high standards. Pitch in and do some of it yourself. After all, it’s your name on the door.
4. Praise your team for a job well done. A few words of gratitude go a very long way.
5. Accept that against all odds, deadlines will often just get met. I don’t know why this is, but somehow the work just seems to get done. A hot project suddenly isn’t, or the scope changes, or someone goes out of town and it buys you a few days. Whatever the situation, serendipity often takes a hand in making schedules work out. I don’t know how or why it works. I only know that it does.
So when the pump has been well primed and business is overflowing, don’t freak out. Just execute your plan, pull in your talent, and trust the flow. It’s a good thing.