Time off is the time for inspirationJanuary 24th, 2010 by mark
In September 2005, my young family and I rented a cottage in rural France for a month. It happened at a hectic time in our personal and business lives and I felt that going away for an extended break would give me some much needed perspective.
At the time, I had fallen into the common entrepreneurial trap of no longer being able to see the forest for the trees. After 5 years of running the business, I was starting to lose steam. Some time off was what we needed, but not the average “let’s take the family to Disneyland” kind of trip; we wanted to get away and really enjoy life by living in another country, away from the normal tourist attractions and without any formal agenda.
For 4 weeks, we were able to replace our normally hectic routine with more leisurely pursuits: farmers’ markets in the morning, 2 hour lunches, siestas in the afternoon, wine tastings, long hikes in the surrounding countryside, home cooked dinner, capped off with 1 hour of Skyping back with the office in the evening. It was a fabulous way to spend the month.
While my mind was at rest, I was able to start thinking about my business in a different way. During my walks in the countryside, I started developing an internet strategy that went onto reshape our entire business model, ultimately allowing us to stand out within a crowded marketplace.
Thinking back to this experience, I was reminded of Bill Gates’ “think weeks” where the Microsoft founder locks himself up to do nothing but think for the week. In many ways, our experience in France was similar as it forced me to remove myself from the day to day minutiae so I could think big about the next stage of my business.
The critical lesson I learned from this experience is that busy entrepreneurs need to stop and smell the roses from time to time (or in our case, the lavender)!