Adventures of Youth

Today I wanted to depart from the normal discussions with regards to business, technology, and growth, and share a story with you. It was part of a discussion I had with a friend of mine who I refer to as my little sister, and she looks up to me like a big brother.

To give you some background, after taking a number of years off after high school, she went back to school, and is finishing up her degree in college. She is also planning her wedding this summer, and working full time hours. She has an extremely positive outlook in life, is very adventurous, and her bubbly personality is almost infectious.

A few weeks ago she was offered to opportunity to go to St. John’s with a few friends. She immediately jumped on the opportunity, since the trip fell during spring break from school. The plans were set, and off they went. There we almost daily pictures posted to FaceBook, and she tweeted the entire time she was down there. She did this more for her fiancee than anyone else, since he couldn’t go on the trip because of work.

I dropped her a line after she got back and asked how the trip was. She said she had a good time, and wanted to go back with her fiancee so he could experience it with her. That gave me a momentary pause, so I asked her this: “Then why didn’t you wait, and go down as a couple?”

Her answer was not quite what I expected, though gave me a lot to think about. She said “To be honest, I am not sure when that trip would be. With the wedding coming, our honeymoon already planed, and his limited vacation time and insane work schedule, it may be a ways off. See, we discussed this trip in depth, and he told me to go since this was an opportunity to go away with my friends that may never come around again. He said we have a lifetime to plan to go ourselves.”

As I reflected on what he told her, I knew those words rang very true. I see it happen when my own wife tries to plan a girl’s weekend with her friends that are scattered across the country. It is a long process to find a time that works for everyone, and a location that fits for making travel plans.

The sad part though, is that many times the adventure of youth fades away as you get older. As career and responsibility assert itself into your life, the spontaneous fire starts to dim and fade. The “let’s pack a bag and go somewhere” transforms into careful planning and budgeting. The get away weekends become farther and fewer between, and we allow ourselves to get caught up in life without any reprieve.

That spontaneous fire never truly goes away though. It sits like an ember inside, waiting to be stoked again. The key is you have to want to ignite it again.

So what is the lesson in all of this? Never give up your sense of youthful adventure. No matter what road life takes you down, or where you wind up, never let your sense of adventure fade. Even if it is something simple like a spur of the moment day trip, the benefits to boost your spirit and let you soar are well worth it.

Carpe Diem – Seize the Day

The Business Whirlwind

After an action packed week of meetings, finalizing a new application module for our system, and the general day to day operation of the business, I decided to take a moment to reflect on the whirlwind of activity that goes hand in hand with owning your own business. As most business owners will tell you, there are times when it seems like it can be never ending, and makes for very long days.

Of course there are the inevitable questions that people almost always seem to ask. The big one I get asked the most is: “Is it all worth it?” The answer is always “Yes, because I am doing what I love to do, and the feeling of accomplishment is very rewarding.”

That is one of the major keys when you own your own business, you have to love what you are doing. It drives your passion to keep moving forward, and infuses everything you do. It is the same with any profession. Take a chef for example. Many times they work 12 or 14 hour days at the restaurant. Most people would say that is crazy, and they could never do it. For the chef though, it is their love and passion for cooking that gives them that extra energy to work those long shifts. They thrive on the accomplishment of serving a perfect dish for each and every customer.

Another major key is balance. The ability to separate yourself from your business, and spend quality time doing other things. This is very important to any business owner, and even as an employee, because you can become consumed with the “business only” aspect of your life, and run the risk of getting burnt out. When that happens, your drive and passion suffer, and you start to lose your love for what you are doing. I know this from personal experience, because I have been there. I was the lead development manager for a large consulting company, and our clients were some of the top names in the financial industry. At times I felt like I lived my life in the financial district of New York City, and never had any time to do anything else. After 9 long years, I had nothing left to give.

It took me taking a risk and starting my own business to re-ignite my passion and love for what I do. I turned my focus towards helping small businesses with their solutions, and helping them grow through the use of technology. Armed with the motto of “Fortune 500 solutions do not need to come with a Fortune 500 price tag” my company, Delaware 302, was born.

Are things still a whirlwind? Most definitely. Am I loving every minute of it? That is a resounding YES.

Forward Momentum

Last week I took some much needed time off from work, to spend time with my family. If you are a small business owner, having time off is a luxury that many of us never get much of a chance to experience. Our lives almost seem to be dedicated to building our business, making our mark, and keeping that forward momentum going as we strive towards our goal. Even though I was “on vacation”, I found that I was still checking and responding to emails, reviewing design drafts, checking programming development, and keeping an eye on my business.

A friend of mine chucked when I was telling them this, and said: “That doesn’t sound like a vacation to me.” The truth of it is though, is that this is what people that own businesses do, at least all of the business owners that I have met and talked to. It is the entrepreneurial spirit that drives us to get up earlier, stay up later, and never loose focus.

The key though is balance. While I was on vacation, I took my family to Hershey Park, and we went on just about every roller coaster in the park. We also visited Zoo America, Chocolate World, and spent a day shopping in Lancaster. I made sure that my business did not supersede my time with my family.

I also consider myself very lucky. I am blessed with a wonderful wife that understands my drive and ambitious, and takes an active part in my business and the decision making process. My kids are also very good, and understand daddy needs to take care of “business stuff”.

One thing I found that taking time off accomplished, was that it helped me to focus on the direction of my business, clarify where I want to be, and define what I want to achieve. It helped me decide where to apply the energy to give us that forward momentum to achieve our goal.

This is something very important that any business owner should do. Take a step back from the day to day of running their business, and see if they are moving in the direction they want to be.

We here at Delaware 302 have some great things in the works. Stay tuned, because we will be sharing them very soon.