Into the Desert: Being Patient & Hopeful When Business is Slow

“He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan, and the angels were ministering to Him.“ Mark 1:13

Close your eyes and picture the most productive and profitable workday you’ve ever had... You smile just thinking about it, don’t you?

I didn’t go to business school and I just assumed everyday would be like that – full of smiles, gratitude, and raking in the dough. Boy was I wrong.

In the second year of having my shop, I began to notice that I was having more slow days than busy days. I would spend my time cleaning, reorganizing, brainstorming, and anything else that was tangible. When I finished doing everything I could do, I’d just sit at the counter waiting for people while binge-watching TV shows. Weeks went by and my bank account was starting to grow cobwebs.

During my first year, I invested in so much stuff I thought I needed. For example, I would decorate the shop for every major holiday (*insert eyeroll here*). My customers would rarely notice the difference and not only did I feel like they didn’t care, but I was out a couple hundred dollars trying to make the place look jazzy.

I also hired people to run my social media accounts. I would hand over my login and passwords and any pictures I had, then they would compile content to post on my social media, which I would approve or deny, and they’d take care of posting. Super genius idea and worth the money (at the time). “I wanted my business to stand out and bring new customers in,” said every business owner ever.

I assumed I needed help because I didn’t have the time, but when things got slow, I found myself taking more and more pictures of inventory, outfits, and my shop. I was basically doing their job and paying them to do it at the same time! The company I was using was expensive, and with business slowing down, I had to take a step back and look at what was best for my business.

When you have time on your hands, your mind starts to fill up with questions: Am I good enough? Is my business even relevant? Am I hurting my business and not allowing it to grow? Will I fail, will my business fail, will all of this be for nothing? Scary thoughts, and I know it’s so easy for me to type, “have faith and hope that things will pick up.” And even easier for you to scroll to the next thing on your phone. But I’m here to be real.

If your business is not churning out profits, it’s important to think about cutting out what is unnecessary, especially during this season of Lent.

I was faced with the reality that I could sit and have faith that things would work out, or I could have faith and do something about my situation. I decided to cut my “festive” habits, cancel my membership with the company that handled my social media, and fire my only employee.

Oh, did I forget to mention that I had an employee? My bad. She worked 3-5 days a week for 3-4 hours. I loved having her. She was helpful and had great insight on so many things. Firing her was the best and worst thing ever. I was letting go of someone I cared about, but I was saving the gift God blessed me with: my business.

It still hurts me that I had to make that decision, but I was reminded constantly that I made the right choice, which ultimately strengthened my faith and revived my passion for my business. Since I let go of that employee, I’ve been working 7 days a week by myself. I’m not going to lie: I’m tired, but it’s also been so rewarding.

Business has picked up so much in the past 2 years that I’m rolling into my senior year of business with two new hires! God is so good and my advice for business owners who are currently “in the desert” like I was is to take this time to perfect your craft. Take the time to read, learn, and seek help (like I didn’t and wish I had). The great thing about the Catholic Women in Business community is that you can do that online.

When business is slow, immerse yourself in research and prayer. Prayer is the best way to help yourself and to remind yourself why you do what you do. I’m not at my shop 24/7 to make tons of money, but to cherish and utilize the gift God gave me.

When I was “in the desert” and experiencing dryness in my business, I would pray, “God, please bless me with what I need today. Nothing more. Nothing less. I trust in You.” This prayer has helped me so much and I recommend you talk to God about your business-related struggles and offer it up. He is waiting for you in the desert and wants to walk besides you. Will you let Him?

Whitney Salgado is the owner of Flipside Apparel Exchange, a resale clothing store in Springfield, Oregon.