The 20 Percent Edition Nr. 13: Breaking the Feast or Famine Cycle in Business

Hello friends, and welcome to this edition of The 20 Percent.

Early human societies were largely dependent on foraging and hunting. The food supply was unpredictable, and humans had to deal with feast or famine cycles—periods of abundance followed by periods of scarcity. With the advent of agriculture, life became more planned, and feast or famine cycles infrequent. 

Similarly, in business, a feast or famine cycle happens when we lack control of the client flow and turnover, often because of ineffective marketing.

Feast or Famine Are Two Faces of the Same Coin

As an entrepreneur, feast or famine means you’re either overwhelmed with work or don’t have enough work to do. Neither of these situations is ideal.

Having your schedule booked with one-on-one sessions leaves you with very little time to do anything else. Receiving too much interest for a limited-seat workshop forces you to make space in your calendar for a second event.

Being too busy managing abundance is what creates future scarcity.

Challenges of “feast-type” business periods:

  • Time pressure puts you in danger of not delivering on all of your promises to your clients.

  • Keeping up with a regular marketing process grows more challenging. Everything beyond servicing your clients becomes a second priority.

Challenges of “famine-type” business periods:

  • Long-stretching famine periods pressure you to switch priorities. It is challenging to stay true to your vision when you chase cash flow.

  • Reduced cash flow doesn’t help with maintaining a regular marketing activity.

Dealing with either of these forces can be challenging in its own accord. But when scarcity and abundance alternate, they create a state of constant stress that can seriously hinder business growth.

Breaking the Feast and Famine Cycle

When we are in a feast or famine cycle, we merely react to changes in our environment. Breaking the cycle is what sets us free to carry out our vision.

Step 1: Maintain consistency with a Minimum Viable Marketing plan

Maintaining a regular marketing activity is difficult for solopreneurs. Juggling between networking, content creation, and following up with leads requires excellent organization skills and energy.

Because of that, it’s easy to put it on the back burner during periods of abundance (when we are too busy managing our success). It’s important to recognize this tendency and create a weekly plan with your minimum viable marketing (MVM).

Your MVM is the minimum marketing activity that you commit to carrying out each week, no matter which phase of the cycle you are in. In periods of abundance, you may choose to stick closely to your MVM, and in periods of scarcity, you may decide to double down on specific marketing activities.

Step 2: Use predictability to your advantage

One of the great things about online advertising is that you can get marketing exposure predictably. It’s easy to establish the cost for a micro-conversion, e.g., a podcast subscription, a book download, etc., and fine-tune your budget to match your marketing visibility goals each month.

When it comes to SEO and Google reach, we can estimate the average number of monthly searches for a keyword. In turn, we can predict how many visits a high-ranking article can bring to a website and plan our content calendar accordingly.

Best of all, these marketing activities don’t require your constant active participation to scale. They unlock more time in your Minimum Viable Marketing plan, so you can do the things that only you can do (e.g., networking, following up with leads, etc.).

Final Thoughts

Breaking the feast and famine cycle brings freedom. If you ever find yourself in such a situation, start with a Minimum Viable Marketing plan. Make sure to stick to it during both periods of scarcity and abundance, then scale it with predictable marketing activities that don’t require your time to scale.

Stay inspired,