The French are big fans. The Italians consider them a de-facto birth right. And the Spaniards cleverly work one into each of their legendary afternoon siestas. But are holidays a luxury any entrepreneur can really afford?
I recently put this theory to the test with a wildly overambitious European itinerary, ostensibly designed as a means to mitigate the stresses of the preceding months. Now, 4 chaotic, hair-raising weeks later, having thrown my back out working on stairs, trains, moving vehicles and in just about any other imaginable setting, I can safely conclude that holidays are not what they once were back in the protective bosom of paid employ.
Sure, you get to enjoy a welcome change of scenery. And eat a wildly unhealthy amount of cheese and bread. But forget languid lie-ins and soul-affirming sunsets – the business world waits for nobody, and you can bet that anyone with any form of financial investment in your operation is not going to be the slightest bit deterred by the fact that you’re trying to enjoy an aperitivo alongside the Colosseum. Welcome to the harsh world of always-on travelling.
So before you decide to pack your laptop and head out into a world rife with sub-par wi-fi connections, here are a few things any intrepid entrepreneur needs to bear in mind:
Business will boom
While a thriving business is what any entrepreneur aspires to, timing is everything. Trust me, the moment you decide to set foot outside of the country and render yourself uncontactable, every little lead that you’ve spent the past few months cultivating and waiting to materialise, will inevitably come to fruition. People will want meetings, proposals, cost estimates. And will likely not take too kindly to your inability to deliver on said requests because you’re ‘on holiday’.
Sure, you might be able to convince your existing clients of your need for an extended absence, but meeting a new client via a dodgy Skype connection from the bowels of a Portuguese hotel room that’s visibly on the cheap side is possibly not the best way to make a first impression.
Everyone has a different definition of WiFi
Ah WiFi, the eternal spoke in the wheel. It’s something every low-rent establishment will promise you, but that few will deliver on in any realistic way. In fact, it seems that Europe currently boasts a very limited availability of long-range routers, meaning that one is forced to contain one’s online activities to localised pockets of connectivity, which results not only in immense frustration, but also a need for intense physiotherapy.
Inevitably, these minute connected spaces are never in say, the bedroom or the lounge. No, best you know that you’re going to be forced to sit on a staircase or a toilet for hours on end if you want to bash out that urgent proposal. So you may want to pack a cushion in your carry-on.
Your out-of-office is meaningless
Remember the days when you could just gleefully create an out-of-office reply and block out the real world entirely? Once upon a time, this used to count for something, but clients have since cottoned on to the fact that no matter where you are in the world, it’s likely you’re armed with at least a smartphone. Which means that, if they bug you enough, you’re likely to capitulate and reply. And don’t be fooled into thinking that your newly minted foreign sim card protects you from inconveniently timed calls. Thanks WhatsApp, you’ve ruined holidays for everyone.
Forget the lie-in
Long, languid mornings and glorious siestas go hand in hand with holidays right? Not anymore. If you want to catch even a glimpse of the exotic lands in which you find yourself, you’re going to have to get comfortable with early wake-up calls. By rising before dawn, you’ll at least free up a few hours for bona-fide sightseeing (or weeping over an inexplicably large pile of carbohydrates).
So yes, there are ways and means to see the world whilst still maintaining control of your empire back home. It’s going to be stressful. There will be times when you’ll wonder why on earth you spent all this money to be sitting in a cramped bus seat missing the scenery as it whizzes past you. But there will also be many moments when you realise that this is precisely what you’ve worked so hard for – the freedom to be wherever you want to be, without ever having to file a leave form.