Lessons Learned On Vacation

Tirau Sheep
New Zealand is open for business

I spent my vacation swimming with my kids, skiing with my father and drinking coffee with great friends. My business couldn’t have been further from my mind. I closed up shop, packed my suitcase and headed to the southern hemisphere for a cool winter holiday. Did I fret over a long break away from the hub-bub? It was just what the doctor ordered!

I met an old friend for coffee. We quickly caught up on the personal stuff and then moved on to talk shop. With the kids under our feet and really limited time one phrase really struck me:  “It’s hard but every week I sit down at my desk and do it all over again”. She was referring to the daily-grind activities like sending out the e-newsletter, updating the blog and checking in on Facebook. I agreed with a sigh, these things are so important, yet so time-consuming when you wear all or most of the hats.

The following week I had coffee with another friend and small biz owner. We had lost touch for a while and she admitted she has taken a step back from the online world. “Business has never been better!” She explained that things became a lot clearer when she wasn’t caught up in the clutter of constant updates.

The key lesson? Balance. Find the online and offline solutions that work for you then stick with them. As with any task, make sure your energy is well-spent.

Customer service. Over the course of three weeks I experienced some outstanding service. It was wonderful to see so many people truly enjoying their jobs and representing their companies so well. Some even took the next step and invited me to share my views. “We’d love to see a photo of your road trip on our Facebook page!” “Send me an email to let me know if our honey makes it back to Japan with you!”

The lesson? Companies big and small companies are open to hearing the voices of their customers. Want to know what your customers think? Just ask! Is there value in good feedback? Absolutely! The good, bad and the ugly? There’s always room for improvement.

I took over 300 photos while I was away. About 90% of them are of my kids which is what vacations are all about – making time for family. At other times my business mind kicked in. Strolling around a farmer’s market I was inspired by all the dedicated growers heartily sharing their finest on a crisp Sunday morning. Snap a picture here, snap a picture there. Gorgeous packaging, innovative marketing and many ideas to mull over. I just wish I could have photographed the enthusiasm and pride.

Later this month New Zealand will host the Rugby World Cup. It’s a huge event for this tiny nation of rugby-crazy sport’s fans. The games aside it’s a great opportunity for many businesses to profit from the large numbers of international visitors. The whole country is expected to put its best foot forward and welcome the guests. This isn’t hard if you “Do what you love and love what you do”.  It’s become such a cliche but you really can’t go wrong with it.

I hope you enjoyed a refreshing summer break. Are you ready to put your best foot forward?