Monday, January 3, 2011

Working through the holidays

This year, Jodie, Mike and I have all worked through the holidays. This is not an ideal situation but it's the reality of running a startup. The lead up to Christmas saw record sales days and weeks and this year it seems all the normal business development work hasn't slowed down much either. Mike's in China at the moment and literally hasn't taken a day off. Jodie and I have spent the last 2 weeks with family in Lismore and on the Gold Coast and friends in Lorne but have spent a lot of it on our laptops.

The situation came home to me in Lismore visiting Jodie's cousins and their 1 year old little boy the Wednesday before Christmas. I was tempted to stay at Jodie's parents place and continue working but at the same time wanted to catch up with the family so I worked right up until the moment we walked out the door at 4:30pm and had to explain I needed to be home by 6pm for a Skype call with a company in Europe. When we got to Jodie's cousin's place a number of other cousins arrived carrying a swing set they'd just bought for the little boy for Christmas and went on to discuss landscaping the new house while drinking beers on the porch. I joined in but was partly pre-occupied trying to find the right place to stand to get a 3G connection on my phone to send off a quick email.

I managed to switch off a little better and spend a bit more time with family over the next few days, but I still worked at least 8 hour days over Christmas.

I guess one advantage of our business is that it doesn't require that I be in one physical location all the time. I can be just as productive on the couch with my laptop while half joining in family conversation as I can be in our office. It's also great that I really love the work, so I'm not being forced to do something I don't enjoy. That said, this is still not an ideal situation.

I'm not entirely sure what the solution is. The 3 of us are lucky that our families are very understanding and don't mind too much. And at least we're aware that this is an issue so hopefully in future years, as we grow and hire more people we'll be in a better position to prepare for Christmas and manage our time more effectively to ensure we're able to take a break.

If your startup or work picks up over the Christmas period are there any strategies you employ to ensure you're able to switch off?

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  1. We also worked over the holiday period including public holidays. It was less about work having picked up (though it has) and more about taking some time to work on our own projects and to get setup for 2k11.

    I'm glad that we're putting in the hard yards in a competitive industry (marketing / product development) - hopefully it will be a part of our edge.

    That said we're all looking forward to taking our holidays later in the year.

  2. Hey Michael - have you read "The E-Myth Revisited"? If not, highly recommended for entrepreneurs like yourselves. Worth making the time to read as it will highlight what changes you need to make in your business to ensure you can enjoy your holidays next year...a classic that will give you the perspective you need to ensure Shoes of Prey continues to be successful as it grows and matures.

  3. Hey Paul B, that's such a coincidence, I was given a copy just a couple of weeks ago... looks like I better get reading!

  4. I worked straight through too. There were some challenging times where I was trying discretely to use my iPhone under the table on Xmas day but when opportunity strikes you have to seize it.

    My mantra:
    "Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won't, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can't."

    Ditto on E-Myth Jodie, you won't regret it.

  5. I read E-Myth quite a few years back and remember liking it but it sounds like I should revisit it as the updated title suggests! Cheers Paul.

    Mike, the first half of your mantra is spot on for us so far, let's hope the second half is too! ;)