Vacation – The New Strategy for Growth
Did that title say what I thought it said? Yes it did! You want to grow a successful business…Go on Vacation!
I have a good friend and past client who early in our working relationship called me up because something about his business and life just didn’t seem to be working. He was a numbers guy and specifically a financial numbers guy who stay laser focused on hitting his metrics, getting solid financial returns on his investments, and building personal and business financial security. He only spent money where he could expect a sizeable return.
So I asked how his business was doing and he said it is doing great. Profits were up, sales were OK, all the cash he needed for his growth goals was securely in the bank. But he didn’t seem happy or satisfied. As it turns out it wasn’t the business that was worrying him. It was his lifestyle.
I soon learned that he was regularly working 12-14 hours a day and only took time off on Sundays (he rarely worked more than 8 hours on Sundays). I was floored. He was working 80 hours a week. I asked what he was doing during those 80 hours and discovered that while he had a handful of employees, he was the go-to for every question and for a good reason. He was extremely capable and competent. He was the best software developer, the best salesperson, the best customer success champion, the best network administrator, and the best marketer. He knew everything that happened in his business…but he knew little of what was happening at home and the only way to keep growing the business was for him to keep finding more hours in the day or night.
He was the bottleneck for his company’s growth. He was at the end of his runway and he couldn’t see any way out of it.
We decided to help him fix his business plateau by focusing on freeing up the logjam around him. We started small. He put 4 dates on his calendar, once each quarter, where he was to leave work for 1 week on vacation and spend time with his wife (don’t worry, she was in favor of this idea).
The month leading up to the vacation the question we kept asking was “What will break while you are gone?” Then he went to work building systems and training staff to mitigate those risks. The week after he returned, we asked the question “What did break while you were gone?” and we spent the next month fixing those weak links.
To make it more challenging we add one twist. On the first vacation he could take his phone and laptop but was only allowed to turn on his laptop after settling in for the night. By the final trip that year he couldn’t use either the entire time.
BY THE END OF YEAR 3 HE WAS TAKING 12 WEEKS OF VACATION AND…
- All problems were being handled by his team.
- He had a fully functional leadership team.
- They had doubled their revenue.
- New clients were signing up who he had never met.
- And successful new product enhancements were being released without his involvement.
The key is to build your people and processes for success. As you approach a million in revenue you must shift from doing the work with a bunch of helpers to enabling your team to succeed. So…if you are intentional about how you use your vacation time, 12 weeks off may be just what you need.
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