When it comes to founding and running a successful company, most entrepreneurs believe that hard work is king. After all, shouldn’t the boss be the first in and the last out of the office? Don’t successful CEOs make their hard-earned millions through blood, sweat, and tears?
Maybe. But maybe we’ve also taken this idea a little too far. While hard work is incredibly important, I personally have seen many friends sacrifice their own happiness and effectiveness by letting themselves work to the point of burn out.
I believe that learning to operate a successful business goes far beyond the office—after all, what’s the point of negotiating a great deal if you are creatively exhausted and suffering from a lackluster family life?
Since founding the Sharper Image, I have found that the way I balance my office life and home life can have a huge impact on my entrepreneurial success. One of the biggest lifesavers I’ve found is the mini-vacation.
What is a mini-vacation?
Don’t have time for a long, relaxing vacation? I suggest taking some time every once in a while to mimic the best parts of vacation in order to strengthen your business with a “mini-vacation.”
A mini-vacation is any kind of refreshing or relaxing variation of your everyday office routine.
A mini-vacation could look like taking the morning off, working from home in your favorite chair for the day, heading to your favorite coffee shop to alternate between reading and answering emails, or even using a long car ride to make a few calls on the way to a hike.
Ultimately, a mini-vacation still allows you to be tuned in to some degree, but allows you to break from the norm. I believe this sort of compromise vacation can have tremendous benefits for both your professional and your creative life.
Mini-vacations help leave room for creativity.
When I go on vacation, I find that I often solve problems I could never solve in the office. I’ve spoken to other friends, and they’ve agreed: vacations are some of the best thinking times for entrepreneurs. You will see your business better when you’re a little bit further away from it. I’ve also received some really good ideas from other people while on vacation.
For example, when The Sharper Image was more of a men’s store, I used to go to a spa resort that attracted a fairly high percentage of female guests. When I asked them what they thought about my stores, I heard consistently that they were unappealing—too technical, too cold, and too gray.
A mini-vacation could be the exact jump-start you need to solve a work problem, approach a situation from a different angle, or even gain a new perspective on a relationship with an employee or co-worker.
Mini-vacations help you avoid burnout.
Mini-vacations can be essential for avoiding burnout if you’re a business owner because you may not be easily able to take real vacations. Burnout won’t help your business grow.
Remember that the growth of your business is like a marathon, not a sprint. You may have to sprint at times, but in general, it’s better to pace yourself so you can stay relaxed. You have probably noticed that when your stress level is even a little too high, it can limit your productivity.
Mini-vacations will help you keep your workload slightly below the stress level and keep you energized. As your business grows, avoid letting your stress grow at the same pace.
Mini-vacations help you prioritize your family.
Many marriages break up over one spouse’s dedication to working—or maybe over-dedication to work. You probably know people who got divorced because one partner was too preoccupied with business. The mini-vacation will help to avoid this, too.
Let’s add family and children to this mix. I am a complete believer in the value of family. I really believe in sitting down with my family for meals, going to my children’s performances and sporting events whenever possible, and doing all the wonderful things that make family life great.
Business is a marathon, not a sprint.
The moral of the story is that we are only here for a limited time, and there are a lot of valuable things to do. Work is one of them, but don’t spend so much time working that you neglect time with your family and yourself because not doing so is actually most people’s regret when they look back on their lives.
Although you may feel like spending more time in the office is the best decision for your business, I’d encourage you to take a step back and try a mini-vacation. This sort of code-switching may actually turn out to be more productive than staying late or showing up early. Sometimes, the paradox of a mini-vacation can actually be lucrative.