June 23, 2011

Summer Vacation!

I’m sitting here staring down the barrel of what promises to be a lovely 13 day vacation and yet rather than looking forward to it I’m exhausted and overwrought.   Many people start small businesses thinking that it will give them the freedom and flexibility to come and go as they please.  The truth of the matter though is that for many of us food entrepreneurs, these businesses are our babies and no matter who we leave in charge it still feels like there’s a laundry list of things we need to get accomplished before taking off.

Last weekend my to-do list ran two pages long – front and back, single-spaced.   Being the truly Type A person that I am, the list was broken down by categories such as Home, Dogs (who will be watched by a dog sitter while we’re away), Company (my business), PT Gig (stuff I need to finish up for the part-time job I work at a nonprofit), Blog (yes, even this blog had a to-do list), and Writing (for the book that’s in the works).   If you’re a list maker like me then you know that sometimes even just looking at these lists is overwhelming, especially when it seems like you just add more things to it then you actually cross off.   And for a moment you might even consider ditching the whole vacation thing entirely because it’s just easier that way.

While it may be easier I would argue though that it’s really not the best thing for your business in the long run.   An entrepreneur who is exhausted and hasn’t had a break in months or years is not an entrepreneur who has the bandwidth to anticipate new trends or see new business opportunities.  Just like some of the best ideas occur in the shower, some of the best business insights happen when you’ve unplugged for a few days and aren’t focused on the day-to-day workings of the business.

So despite the fact that my to-do lists threaten to swallow me whole, completed or not I will be getting on that plane and taking a much-needed break.   I’m heading to Tuscanyfor a week and then will be spending a few days in Zermatt Switzerlandon the way back.  My family is doing a family-reunion of sorts in Tuscanyand we’ve rented a house that we’ll use as our home base from which to explore the region.  Then we switch families and spend a few days with my husband’s side in Zermattwhere we’ll be yodeling and eating more cheese fondue then anyone should be allowed to eat.

One thing that I’m really excited about for both places is the chance to see what the small food businesses in those regions are doing.  WhileEuropecertainly does have big agri-business, they never went as far down that road as we did and small mom-and-pop food businesses still, for the most part, stayed as part of the landscape and lifestyle.  Plus the newfound ‘handcrafted’ movement here in the US has been going on for centuries in Italy and Switzerland. 

Never fear though, just because I’m heading out of town posts will continue to appear here.  Thanks to the power of the internet I’ve written some posts in advance and others I’ll write form the road.  I’m planning to travel light which means no computer so you won’t be subjected to endless summer vacation photos…at least not while I’m away.