It doesn’t matter if you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Festivus—if you are an entrepreneur you probably hate the holidays.
It’s not because you’ve embraced Lean Startup and a holiday splurge means tossing an extra hard boiled egg in your ramen. Entrepreneurs hate the holidays because of the vacation days. Paid time off keeps your customers out of the office. And unless you’re selling Christmas ornaments, making money during the holidays sucks. From family gatherings and ugly sweater parties to singing Christmas carols—the only rapid growth you’ll see is in your waistline.
My company, Retsly, is feeling the Christmas crunch. We had a successful launch of our platform in San Francisco and customers were very excited. We hit the phones hard and heard great things: “We love you guys,” “Send us an agreement,” “Can’t wait to pay.”
And then we got hit by Thanksgiving. Technically it’s a two-day holiday but in reality it’s two weeks of people being mentally checked out. Retsly is our baby and our employees are our family but we often forget that our customers have lives. Their lives consist of real human babies and families that actually expect them to leave work before 8pm.
So what can entrepreneurs do to survive when Santa Clause is delivering all the presents on your list except your big enterprise customer?
- Stop calling customers. I’m probably going to get some flack for this because we all know you should never stop selling. But if you’re a startup chances are you’re convincing a customer to ditch “tried and true” for your miracle product. Don’t forget that person is probably going to bat for you and if that’s not stressful enough they have to go holiday shopping, are traveling or hosting family, and are generally more stressed than usual. Be sensitive and don’t forget people have things to do outside of work even if you don’t.
- Don’t be Ebeneezer Scrooge and embrace the holiday spirit. You probably can’t afford a big holiday bash so do something small. Buy your employees some Egg Nog, pick up the lunch bill or splurge and give them a Friday off. Just remember what your parents always told you, “It’s the thought that counts.”
- Finally, do what everyone does and go on vacation. Enjoy a home cooked meal and spend time with the people who will love you even when your startup fails. Chances are you are neglecting family for 95% of the year so you might as well give your Mom a hug while she still loves you.
So there you go, embracing the holiday cheer isn’t on most of entrepreneurs’ road maps. But I’m going to try and take my own advice by gaining a few pounds and some much needed sleep.
Ho ho ho!