Nothing happens in August.
I take a “coaching/pitching break” every now and then. The no-coaching/no-pitching time zone allows me to focus on other areas of my work. It also allows me to keep “fresh eyes” as I meet new founders and come across new ventures. It means that I can suggest new approaches to the challenges they face.
The last “coaching/pitching break” I took before Covid hit us happened to coincide with the summer holidays. Upon my return, I found a sea of exhausted faces and the issue that was trending and that came up at each meeting was that “suddenly everything had slowed down”.
Suppliers were not responding, advisors were unavailable, clients had gone AWOL and people had donned their invisibility cloaks. My hard-working entrepreneurs had allowed the heavy rain and the strange weather to deceive them and had not realized we were in the middle of summer and that “normal” people took holidays.
Therefore the recurring soundbite at each meeting was: “nothing happens in August”! I found myself explaining over and over again: this is the summer, everyone is away on annual leave – even my usual spot for meetings in London, a lovely French café in the heart of South Kensington shuts down for a whole 6 weeks of summer closure, because “nothing happens in August” (I still believe that 6 weeks is excessive!).
So what does one do if nothing happens in August?
Stop chasing people who are not there. And actually, why don’t you just STOP. The normal startup rhythm is frenetic. The beat is faster than any music my teenage daughters listen to. Given that “nothing happens in August”, why not spend some time stopping the action and engaging in the reflection?
Think about your journey so far, think about how much you have achieved. Think about what’s next. I hate to use the word strategy, but we all know that startup strategy tends to be MBA (Management By Accident). Set a plan of action over the next 12 months, define milestones, and think about the resources you need.
Just think. Instead of spending time in the venture, spend time on the venture.
Innovate, set yourself free and release your creative juice. Innovation happens when you are open, when you are permeable to everything that happens around you. It will not happen when you are too focused on just getting the job done and when you have locked your brains in delivery mode.
Unleash all these ideas that you have boxed away to focus on growing the business and remember that your sustainable competitive advantage is in your ability to innovate.
Invest time in your family. “Nothing happens in August” so spend more time in August with your loved ones. They are your key partners, they are the ones who are there in the shadows, very often neglected.
Invest in yourself. When is it the last time you went for a run? Or a swim? Or to an exhibition? Take time for yourself. Catch up on your sleep. Get rested.
Your competitors will have taken a vacation and they will come back full of creativity and energy and this is a risk to your competitive edge.
Your clients will have taken a break too and will come back refreshed with new demands. How can you keep up if you are exhausted?
Of course, the stress is always there. You will be hiring, sealing partnerships, closing sales, and raising money… inject some sanity in your life and make yourself more successful and more investible.
Investors do not want to invest in burnt-out entrepreneurs. Investors want entrepreneurs to be hard-working, they want them devoted and chained to their ventures – but they also want them alive and able to perform!
“Nothing happens in August”. Take a break. Take care of yourself. Take care of your family. Taking these simple steps will make sure everything happens in September.