It’s summer. People unplug. Investors, who happen to have families and personal lives as well as the ability to offer you feedback or write you a check, also unplug, which is why you don’t see them on as many panels come summer. It’s a frenzy until the end of June, then dead air until after Labor Day. You know the drill. Same one every year. Wash, rinse, spin, repeat.
As one investor friend of ours put it, “summer is reserved for families & personal pursuits = LIFE!”
That doesn’t mean that founders or the team can bugger off. In fact, here’s your opportunity to use that so-called down time wisely, efficiently, and to GSD, which roughly stands for Get uh, Stuff Done.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Find a mentor. As someone who actively mentors in accelerators, we will tell you that it does make a difference. Some mentors are subject matter experts who can show you points that you missed or help you when you get stuck or hit a roadblock. They’re a set of fresh eyes on the subject, and may be able to make introductions that you need, to people and companies to whom you might not have ready access.
- Note that they’re called ‘mentors,’ not volunteers. Their time and expertise is valuable. Make sure to compensate them appropriately. There is no freemium model here. Also make sure to respect their time. Some mentors will accept equity. Some prefer payment. Some may request payment and equity, depending on the level and time commitment required. Mentors/advisors do tend to be especially motivated when they have skin in the game.
- Test your marketing. Or put together your marketing plan. You know who else unplugs/take vacations or staycations in the summer? Potential customers. Good time to focus on building your customer base. If you need a starting point, consider this: Marketing is not about your company’s value. It’s about your customer’s value – and aspirations.
- Send an update to your investors. They have time to read them. Of course, you should be updating them regularly, but if you’ve been heads down in work, take a few moments or an hour or two to update them on your progress or unexpected pitfalls. They may be able to help and even have time to respond. Just a heads up.
- Do your research. Good time to look into industry trends. Read some history as well. Or as Wayne Gretzky, who is considered to be one of the greatest hockey players of all time, put it, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” History also tends to be a cycle of wash, rinse, spin, repeat, although there are times when we may witness a bit more spin than at others (come on, couldn’t resisted).
- Take a break. Take at least a few days off. Don’t think about work, or try not to. Always good to stop, recharge, and come back to it all with fresh eyes.
- Consider a company or team retreat. It’s great for team building, and to get to know your team outside of the workplace. Taking them for drinks is great after a particularly tough stretch, but a few days away from the office and outside of a familiar environment is a whole different thing. And good for morale. For companies in the New York metropolitan area: Consider a long weekend in the Hampton, or Montauk. Know who else is out there? Investors. Don’t seek them out or stalk them, but if you happen to run into them at the Talkhouse or the Amagansett Farmer’s Market, be friendly. Don’t pitch them, but if you happen to have seen them on a panel, read their blogs or followed their twitter stream and there was something that struck you in particular, thank them. Great opener and great way to start to get to know them. Again, do not pitch them.
- Attend events. It may be a beautiful summer night and people just want to get out and be with people. You never know who might be in the room. A potential mentor? Client? Maybe even your next employee/ consultant, or someone with advice to help you to get your company to the next level.
- Plan your Fall strategy. Again, do your research to help you to better target the people you’ll want to reach out to, once they’re back in town or their heads are back in the game. Have your game plan ready.
We just passed the Summer Solstice – the midpoint. Just as winter/the holidays are a time for giving, summer is a time for taking, so…
- Take a class in a skill you may need to be up on. Take a walk. Take a break. Take stock and if you really do feel that you’re in need a change, go for it: take a breather or take a hike. Or may be a good time to tell someone else to take a hike. As Peter Shankman advised at our investor breakfast, if you can’t change the people around you, change the people around you.
The sun is shining – at least some of the time – and good to get out there, enjoy it, clear your head, and soak up some Vitamin D. One step at a time, one foot in front of the other and remember, there’s only one way we ever suggest you go: onward and forward.