The chances are that you are reading this before you go on holiday or after you come back, and hopefully not whilst you are away! I had to chuckle to myself when listening to the headline news on the radio yesterday in the car. 7 days of Eurostar strikes – and the reason for the strike; the train drivers were complaining about the lack of work-life balance. What a very 21st century strike! Not complaining about poor wages or jobs cuts, but work-life balance! Many of us sometimes wish we had a job as mundane as driving a train, which would mean, unless something awful happened, the time away from work wouldn’t be spent thinking about work, which is quite often is if you, like me, are running a SME. OK I know we would all get bored after a while, but I quite fancy driving a train for a year or delivering the mail – with all that thinking time I am sure I could come up with some great ideas.
But as a second best, go on holiday. Most of my best ideas pop into my head when I am away from the business, travelling for work or away on a holiday. Sometimes we are too close to the day-to-day to see the bigger picture, so I would generally say to those that are retailers or producers, spend more time away from the business, and it may well prosper more. Too many people hold on their businesses too tightly and if they do go away are ringing into the office every day. Stop it! Your people are more than capable of running your business whilst you are away, but that’s another blog, trust and delegation. What I wanted to focus on today was being at a distance allowing you to suddenly “see” something you can’t in close proximity.
The best example of this was two years ago when we put in a new software system at Cotswold Fayre, which, as often is the case, was a complete nightmare and ruined the business for several weeks. Previous to knowing this meltdown was going to happen I had booked a holiday of a lifetime for five of us to drive Route 66, starting in Chicago and ending up at my brother’s house in San Francisco. A week prior to leaving I had actually told the children I was going to have to cancel the holiday as things were dire at work. Of course, lots of tears, but in the end two days before we were due to go, I decided the right thing was to go. We had a great holiday, and this occasion only, there were regular calls to the office to the two other people that were running the show in my absence. Things had got slightly better whilst I was away, but on my first hour back in the office I suddenly “saw” a change that needed making to the software that would instantly improve things, and it did, and believe you me, I am no software engineer! I am convinced that I wouldn’t have seen this change unless I had been away – and to be frank, no-one else had thought of it who stayed behind.
I once met a producer who boasted to me he hadn’t had a holiday since he started his business 9 years ago. “The fool” I thought whilst I continued smiling. Don’t be like him, and take time away from your businesses. Let’s face it, when you are old and grey, and surrounded by your grandchildren, you are not going to sit there in you rocking chair and say to your children and spouse, “I wish I had spent more time in the office/factory”, are you?
Right, I’m off to Malaysia, see you at Speciality & Fine Food Fair which is on as soon as I return.