Why Taking Time Off Can Vastly Improve your Career

It’s weird. I just worked for what seemed like 72 hours straight at a con. I made tons of great connections, a decent little stack of change, and added a huge amount of people to our mailing list.

I earned a day off. 

And yet here I am writing this blog post, updating my website, unpacking from the convention, and feeling guilty about not doing more. I feel pangs when I’m not working on my business. This is something I see in every entrepreneur and in every facet of business. 

It’s something I read about at least once a month.

And yet here I am adding my name to the din. I don’t have any new insights you haven’t read before, so I won’t bore you with the medical reasons rest is good. 

I will tell you a story though, because that’s what I do. I’m a storyteller. This is a story about a struggling business that had no idea what it was doing. 

In 2015, when we seriously launched Wannabe Press and I left my previous job…things were not so great. 

I spent every day struggling to keep my head above water. Even when our Kickstarter blew past its goal and people enthusiastically bought our books…I still couldn’t figure out what I was doing or why I was having success. 

Then I decided to take the entire month of December off last year to figure out how to make my business grow and why we were having success in the first place. 

That sounds scary right? 

I mean a month off dedicated to thinking is insanity. I’m sure most people reading this are shaking their heads at this frivolous luxury. And yet, it was that month that turned my entire business around. 

That month away gave me the clarity to find all the levers in my business and build a rock solid plan to exploit them. 

I found that I did best at conventions and that online was a money pit, so I decided to increase my shows exponentially. 

In fact, I decided to make shows the cornerstone of my entire business. I never thought live events would be where I would be expending almost all my marketing effort, but the numbers don’t lie.

I found that the people I spoke to at shows were creators trying to build a career. I needed to provide information for them specifically and they needed a voice to give trusted advice. 

I found that the other creators exhibiting with me needed a resource to help them sell better at shows and an outlet to get them more exposure. I could provide that for them.

That led to the creation of my podcast The Business of Art, dedicated to helping creators build better businesses. It’s one of the best decisions I ever made in my career and it only happened because I took time off to reflect. 

I found that the people I wanted to serve really didn’t care about one of the products I was building. That product was going to be the bedrock on which the rest of my company was based in 2016, and it was a dud.

By taking that month off to focus on the big picture of my business, I was able to figure out how my business worked, the levers I needed to pull in order to increase revenue, what was eating all my money, and who I was serving. 

I found the best way for me to get new customers, meet new fans, and help more people. It was not doing Facebook ads or hiring marketing companies, it was getting out to live shows and providing information in order to serve my audience. 

It led me to scrap my big project. It led me to find new books and expand our line-up. It led me to book dozens more shows than I would have otherwise. It led me to launching a podcast, and this blog you are reading right now. 

It helped us design of ideal customer avatar, our mascot, and figure out what the people who cared about our message wanted to hear. 

It led to the most successful and profitable weekend we have ever had at Wannabe Press. 

It led me to cut the fat on my bloated marketing budget and focus on core brand. 

It led to the realization I could do this, all because I took time off to think for a minute. Now, we are generating more revenue and buzz than ever before and are on pace to hit our revenue goals for this year. 

I can’t recommend taking time off to think about your business highly enough. So right now that’s what I’m going to do: rest, figure out what worked, and make sure we are ready for what lies ahead.