For an entrepreneur, the summer lull is quite an ambiguous time.
While it’s great to (finally) get some rest, it is always accompanied by the unsettling feeling that time is being wasted when there’s so much to do (that new feature you’ve yet to develop or that potential investment you’ve yet to pursue). There’s always something, but the reality is that you’ve got no one to work with. Everybody’s on a holiday, especially in Australia, where summer means Christmas and New Year’s and generally a great excuse for a month+ of annual leave. So what can you still do with that time so you don’t feel like it’s being wasted?
Here are 6 suggestions for your hectic minds to delve into:
Take the time to truly plan and get ready for next year. By this time, you probably already have a business plan (and maybe even a marketing one) set for 2018, but chances are that it was written sometime back in August and hasn’t been revised since. Review your strategy and make sure it is aligned with what you wish to accomplish next year, that you’ve got all the necessary action items in place, and that you know you are actually capable (resources-wise) to handle it all. The paper takes it all, but try and be honest about the feasibility of what’s written there, and if it seems like too much – priorities.
Take the plunge and dive deeper into a skill you’ve only been scratching the surface with so far. It doesn’t even have to be 100% related to your field or market; on the contrary, try to choose a skill that is relatively remote from what you’re doing, something that will enhance your overall business / management skills and will serve you well in areas you’re less comfortable in (like negotiation, interviewing, public speaking, etc.). Read about it or even take on a course or a mentor – whatever suits you best.
You remember that stack of papers lying on your desk that keeps getting higher and messier and is becoming sort of a monument? It’s time to break it down. Take a day or two to do some sorting, filing, and tossing. Who knows, you just might find some surprising docs in there, like a discount voucher for something you need or a payment you still need to claim from a customer… In any case, starting the year with a “clean desk” (physically and mentally) is always ideal. You don’t want those meeting minutes from 8 months ago to get stuck on top of your acquisition offer agreement somehow… 😉
We all have these never-ending to-do lists that are neatly organized on our favorite task tracking tool (I like @Trello personally). However, we never get to the bottom of them because new, more urgent, and potentially more positive ROI tasks keep popping up, taking most of our time and attention. But if you look at that list from the bottom up, you’ll find that some of these “neglected” tasks are either irrelevant by now, solved by now (or can be easily solved), or a great idea to work on right now. In any case, you’ll be able to shorten that list, which is always a great thing. The sense of productivity that results is invaluable.
I guess this part relates to tips #1 and #3 as well, but if you choose to ditch those two, at least stick to this one. I did it myself this year and I already see the benefits of it. Create a simple annual chart that shows all the relevant events / summits / conventions / hackathons / showcases / meetups / etc. you would like to participate in next year (according to what you know at this point in time, of course) and start thinking of what actions you need to take in order for it to happen. Do you have to buy tickets in advance? Do you have to sign up for it? Do you have to polish your pitch or create marketing materials for your booth? Do you have to contact someone in order to get in there? This simple table will help you see the full picture and determine which events are the most important ones for your startup and where you should focus your time, efforts, and resources. It is important to keep track of this chart throughout the year, as new events will arise and priorities might change, but having an annual overview will help you make better, more informed decisions, rather than the impulsive ones we all make when it comes to an event that we think might benefit us.
Yeah, I know this is no news for you and you definitely don’t need me to tell you about the benefits of a good rest for your body and brain; I’m sure you’re well aware of that. However, if you’re relatively new to the entrepreneurial way of life, you might not be aware of the fact that in the entrepreneurial world, you never know when your next holiday / chance to rest will come – so if it’s here now, use it! Some of the most successful entrepreneurs I know have learned this lesson the hard way, when their body betrayed them at the most hectic time of the year. So let’s learn from their mistakes and treat ourselves with a well-deserved, highly-needed rest!