Back to School, Back to Work

So we are getting ready to send our middle daughter off to college and I don’t like it; I don’t like it one bit. Of course I am happy for her and in her mind she is already gone, but this brings my wife and I one step closer to an empty nest. Boo hoo.

My wife on the other hand is handling it much better and is enjoying the process and the change. She’s been busy getting our sweet girl ready for her new adventure – helping her get supplies and books, comforters and toiletries. She has also been getting our high schooler all of the things she needs for the school year – fall clothes, school supplies and the like. Unlike me, my wife is too busy to mope about getting older. But all of this hubbub got me to thinking that fall is not only the time to think about back-to-school stuff, but an equally good time to apply that thinking to one’s business. For instance:

Be prepared and do your homework. How many times have we all told our children that? It is an equally important lesson for small business.

Example: I am in the middle of a big new project and have been interviewing various vendors. Most come prepared and ready to woo me, but last week one guy on a conference call had not looked at the PowerPoint I sent and had not reviewed my website. Needless to say, he did not get the contract either.

Be on time: In school you get a tardy if you are late. At work, you get a pass or two, but then you get a reputation for being either arrogant, insensitive, or flakey. No one wants that. After being late to a couple of meetings early in my career, a mentor said to me, “Steve, your word is your bond. If you say you are going to be there at 10, be there at 10. Otherwise, I may not trust whatever else you promise.” Wise words, those. Out with the old, in with the new: Fall is a great time to freshen up the office – whether that means a new coat of paint, new equipment, better software, or what have you. Take stock of what is working and what is not. By giving your team the tools they need to succeed, everyone wins.

Remember to go to recess: All work and no play really does make Jack a dull boy. Schools know that kids need time off to recharge their batteries. Taking the time you need away from the office – be it for 15 minutes, an afternoon, or a long weekend – recharges your batteries and gets the ‘ol creative juices flowing again.

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