Excerpt from Character 34: Travel Agent

Book travel agent artsy resizedThe time excuse        

I can’t explain why I believed I had no time for an annual vacation, particularly in the earlier years, which are often the toughest in the life of a business. Ironically, it’s during this time that you most need the vacation you believe you can’t take.

My problem might have been the affliction from which many small business owners suffer—the belief that my business couldn’t operate without my presence and would simply unravel if I weren’t there to hold it together. It’s utter nonsense of course. It might be perfectly valid to believe that your employees can’t run the business as well as you can, but believing that they can’t do it well enough to avoid disaster for, say, two weeks is ridiculous (in most circumstances).

If you can’t take two weeks off because you and only you can run the day-to-day activities of the business, and you also can’t close the business for two weeks, you’re in the wrong business. You should get out. You can’t live a healthy life this way—it will eventually break you and your business.

You absolutely must make the time for at least a two-week vacation at least once a year. And when you do take a vacation, never, ever do what I did on my first family vacation as a business owner and call in a couple of times a day—paranoia does little more than annoy everyone around you.

Excerpt from Character 35: Graffiti Artist

From minor to profound

A real-life graffiti artist’s writing on the wall is quite often profane and unworthy of attention. By contrast, our metaphorical graffiti artist’s writing on the wall is always worthy of your small business’s attention. Some messages warn of impending doom while others point to profitable opportunities. They also range in significance from minor to profound, and ignoring any of these messages could have consequences. However, I’m going to discuss the effects of ignoring the profound ones here.

By profound, I mean serious enough to make or break a small business—the type of writing on the wall you can’t afford to ignore. In some cases where businesses collapsed, the writing on the wall would have been visible to even the most willingly blind. On the other hand, we’ll never know how some small businesses might have blossomed had they seized the opportunities mentioned in the messages. It has always been this way—some consider the writing and react while others suffer the consequences of embodying the old proverb: “None so blind as those who will not see.”