This is an article from our regular real estate columnist Rachelle
I’ve been self employed for most of my career. It can be very exciting at times and offers a lot of freedom with your time that conventional employment doesn’t. You must also have an inordinate amount of faith in yourself and what you are doing. Whenever you start a business it takes a long time to get established and during this period you will often be labouring on your own, by yourself, and the only way through is to put one foot in front of the other.
Kevin O’Leary for example developed his educational software in his parents’ basement. I’ll bet his mother asked him more than once when he was going to get a real job. Most successful entrepreneurs have similar stories.
In my business of leasing apartments there is a lot of waiting and being patient involved. I spend most of my time waiting for prospective tenants to call, keeping myself available to show the places when people want to see them, which is usually evenings and weekends after work.
The business of property management is very similar. If you have great tenants who pay the rent there’s little to do on a daily basis. If you do property management properly, it’s pretty boring.
Then there’s times when being in business is exciting such as last year in July and August when I received no phone calls to rent any apartments at all. I can assure you that it was very unpleasant. The word panic comes to mind! After being through a drought like that one, you find it very difficult to turn down work.
Availability When You’re An Entrepreneur
I’m not sure you noticed a trend but most of my work involves being available to do things and not very much doing. This means that I am on call for extended hours both for potential tenants and owners. Renting property is time sensitive. No owner wants to sign a listing then discover that I’m taking a hiatus. In many cases they hire me because they are not sufficiently available. I am rarely without apartments to rent and I have properties to manage so this usually means no vacations for me.
When I was in the construction business, it was pretty much the same. It was a different business but the same concept. Until your business gets to a certain size, it becomes very difficult to take time off. By then, micromanaging becomes a habit.
Staff Taking Your Place
What about staff? Well any small business owner can tell you that no one cares about your business like you do. If your staff had the skills that you do in problem solving, or your work ethic, they’d be perfectly suited to start their own business and they probably would.
So what leads me to write an article about vacations? This is a subject I know almost nothing about. Last week I took off for a few days to visit my family. They live in Northern Ontario. Across the street from my childhood home is a beautiful deep lake perfect for swimming. Then my mom took me blueberry picking out in the woods. I spent another day boating around on Lake Temagami (http://www.temagamivacation.com/) . My mom and sister decided they needed a bunch of driftwood so we went to a nice beach and picked up sticks for a while.
My phone and email didn’t work up there. It was awesome to be free of these devices. I truly got to rest my brain.
Benefits of Vacation
- Mental Rest
- Passion for your work
- Good ideas
- Doing different activities
Taking Care of Your Best Asset – YOU
If you are self-employed, you are the business. Taking good care of yourself is of utmost importance. No right-minded business owner would expect even the most devoted employee to work the way they expect themselves to work. You are your most valuable asset.
Drudgery is the enemy of creative thinking and ideas. I have good ideas on a regular basis and those ideas don’t come from thinking hard. None of my creative ideas come to me while I’m actively thinking about them. Most of my eureka moments actually happen while I’m showering.
If I’m gnawing on a tricky problem, I read up on all the conventional information then when my brain feels so full it’s going to explode with relevant information and I’m starting to think in circles and totally frustrated with my inability to figure things out, I’ll go take a shower and stop thinking about it.
Research Other Industries
I have also found that reading and learning about other industries and businesses is very helpful. Often times reinterpreting solutions used in other circumstances and applying those ideas to your business can be very helpful. Chances are that someone somewhere has tackled a problem and solved it.
Many innovations come from accidents or adversity. In the case of penicillin a bunch of mouldy oranges contaminated Alexander Fleming’s experiment. This has also proved true for me as well. For instance, I started writing when my husband became ill several months ago. I discovered a skill I didn’t even know I had.
More Vacations For Me
Even though it’s impossible for me to take several weeks or a month off of work, I’ll be taking more days off, shutting off the phone and giving myself the rest I need. If you consider that not thinking about a problem leads to creative solutions, perhaps getting away from your business is the best way to run your business. Lesson learned for me. This way I can be more creative and ready to tackle anything my business has in store for me.
While I’m not ready to stop working hard, I’m willing to try to take it easier and enjoy myself more often doing activities that have nothing to do with real estate in order to be better at real estate. That’s an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one. I can’t argue that I did come up with a number of new ideas on marketing my business. Now that I’m rested I’m excited to try them out!
What do you think?
Is it possible that not working occasionally and taking vacations will lead to better productivity and creative ideas?
About the Author: Rachelle specializes in renting property on behalf of landlords and is the blogger behind Landlord Rescue. She also works with investors to find good investments in Toronto and surrounding areas. Her passion is bringing multi res properties back from the brink and maximizing profitability. Check out some of her other real estate posts on MDJ.