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Does your business ever sleep?

The nice thing about the Internet is that your business need never close–you can serve customers every minute of every day. The bad thing about the Internet is it gives us the idea that we shouldn’t ever personally shut down–we feel guilty going off the grid for even a few days. Today is Christmas and I am not going to be working (after I post this) and I won’t have any posts until January 5. (You’ll see some posts from some of our contributors, though.) Why am I telling you all this? Because I want you to commit to yourself that you’ll get some rest.

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Christmas might not be the day you’d pick to shut down your business. It’s one of my big religious holidays, but you might have a different religion or none at all. And if your business is a restaurant or a bakery, you better not be closed today.
So, stop thinking about whether today is the right day for you to shut down. Instead, commit to yourself that you will shut down at some point. Promise yourself that you’ll take that vacation (a real one, not one where you take a couple of meetings and empty your inbox every day).
I know, I know, it’s hard to take much time off when the economy is going to hell in a handbasket. (I’m not terribly certain how a handbasket makes going to hell any worse, but let’s just play along.) But how do you think that you’ll make it in a bad economy? Do you believe that you’ll “out-work” it? Just redouble your efforts?
It won’t work.
What you really need is a better approach than your competitors. You only have so many hours, so you can’t really out-work them. But you can do things that are closer to what your customers want. You can surprise your customers (in a good way). You can figure out what they need and do it better.
None of this requires more work from you, although hard work is always needed to some degree. What is does require is you being at your best, at your most creative, and at your top inventiveness. And you only get that by recharging—”sharpening the saw” as Stephen Covey would say.
So, stop being available 24 hours a day. Stop catching up on your e-mail every day of the year. Instead, find some time to think, to relax, to be yourself. Catch up with your family and friends.
After you do, when you come back to work, you might be more effective. Which is what you really need, especially when economic times are bad. Don’t let the feeling that you need to be doing something force you to waste your time with stressed-out unproductive labor. Instead, focus on what’s important in your life, trusting that you’ll figure out how to build your business, too.
And Merry Christmas or whatever your holiday is. See you next year.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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