Every online business has ups and downs, but predict the quiet times and you can use the lull to your advantage

There are two Friday the 13th’s this year and today is the first of those. Why am I telling you this?

Well, because there are three types of people when it comes to superstition. The first type couldn’t care less what the date is and it won’t even cross their minds that today might be ‘unlucky’.

The second type is me – a tiny bit superstitious – won’t walk under a ladder and salutes single magpies but is otherwise pretty chilled about the date.

And then there’s the third type, those who are absolutely terrified of Friday 13th. So terrified that they simply won’t leave their homes at all today.

More than 60 million people in fact claim to be affected by a fear of Friday 13th – and there is even an actual name for this. It’s called paraskevidekatriaphobia and those who have this fear won’t go to work, drive their cars or sometimes even get out of bed today for fear of encountering terrible luck, despite the fact that they could just as easily have an accident or encounter bad luck whilst at home.

So, whilst trying to put a positive spin on what must actually be a pretty frustrating fear, I was thinking, does this mean that all those people who are too frightened to go out are simply sitting at home and doing absolutely nothing?

Or are they snuggled, nice and cosy in bed with a packet of custard creams and a big mug of tea, firing up their laptops ready to spend the day shopping online? Or is that even too risky? I’m thinking there may be a risk of broken nails whilst opening packets of biscuits, scalds whilst drinking tea, risk of electrocution by laptop….

Ok, I may be exaggerating but to put it simply there could potentially be 60 million terrified people all online today, all spending money because they are too fearful to take part in any other more potentially dangerous activities. This means that a peak in sales could be a real possibility…

If only that could be true! Seriously now though, there are likely to be many peaks and troughs throughout the year with your online sales. Friday 13th may see a ‘peak’ but if not, there are plenty of other times when you’ll see definite highs and lows with your sales.

The single most effective product to avoid peaks and troughs?

There isn’t one!

Some months are always going to be traditionally quieter while other months will see your profits rolling in steadily. What you need to remember is that it’s the same for every online seller – it’s not just you. And the key is to always make the most of your busy times but also to make the most of your quiet times too. Use the time to your advantage.

When you start selling online, you will always need to complete one full year in order to get a totally accurate idea of how things will work out for you long term.

It will depend on the products you sell, how effective your marketing is and how hard you work, but by the end of 12 months you’ll be able to see your own peaks and troughs which will allow you to predict the next 12 months and so on.

There is no single product that stops up and down sales

What if you are selling a product that is generally purchased all year round. Will you still get peaks and troughs?  Yes, you will.

Products in the baby niche are pretty much year round online sellers. Women are always going to be having babies and so the demand for baby products will always be there.

But there will still be times when sales are slower and there will be times when sales are flying. I’ve sold baby products myself in the past and know from experience that these products are definitely year round sellers but I always noticed a dip in February and again in July – this happened year after year.

The July dip I put down to holidays – if people are away they are not making online purchases – or if the weather is warm everyone is outside enjoying themselves rather than purchasing goods online, but the February dip has always baffled me. Eventually I came to the conclusion that the first credit card bill has come in after Christmas and people are generally short of cash.

So, there really is no single product that will sell in the exact same amounts month after month after month. And that’s why you should always ensure your inventory includes multiple products. This way, when one product has a lull, another will potentially be on the up.

Track your sales

The key is that throughout the year, you must mark down on a calendar or in a diary exactly when your busy times and quiet times are where sales are concerned.

When you have done this, you’ll be able to work out a much better plan of action for how you’re actually going to run your online business because you’ll know when the quiet times are coming and then you can use that time to evaluate what you are doing and work on improving your sales and marketing.

In the quiet times, review your goals, tweak your marketing and research new products so that you’re always being pro-active and you’re prepared for anything.

Running a successful business requires your attention, so don’t be tempted to rest on your laurels. I can assure you that you will be grateful for the time you spend evaluating every aspect of your business as it will ultimately bring you better results.