Do you manage to get time away from your business? If you run a small business, it is difficult to get away for any length of time. When was the last time you had a 2 or even 3 week holiday? It’s hard, isn’t it? Now for those of you who are employed, it is generally easier, because most of the time there will be someone else to cover for you, and that person could well be the owner. But when it is your small business it is much harder.

In reality, I suspect that if we just decided to take 2 weeks off, the sky would not fall in, and it would not herald the end of civilisation as we know it. But it is your baby, and it needs you, or at least you think it does. It cannot survive without you, or so you think. You are key to its success, but in reality, there are many times when someone who works for you, can do your job better than you. I have certainly learned that over the years. It is better to leave people you trust to get on with it. They have the skills and more importantly the time to do the job and do it properly. You may know more and have more experience, but you do not have the time to do the job properly.

So, we try and sneak away from time to time. Over the years we have combined business trips with a few extra days away, perhaps hillwalking or going to shows. I suppose that these days, now that we can check our emails on our phones, it is so much easier to keep an eye on what is going on back at the office. It’s hard to actually escape. I have known people with up to 3 mobile phones, so that they only need to take one away with them. That’s the one that nobody knows the number, and when they make calls, they hide the number.

I just have the one phone, although phoning is probably one of the least important functions that I use. I am sure it is the same with a lot of people. Today is one of my early morning starts and so by 6.45am I have already checked my emails, my LinkedIn account and the news, all on my phone. It’s great because there are very few other people on the go so no new emails. I can relax. No disasters yet. Come 9am and my email account will be straining under the weight of emails. Such is life!

Anyway, back in July we sneaked away for a few days. Don’t worry we had our laptops with us. This was a trip that was booked in February 2020 and as with so many planned events, it was postponed, postponed again, cancelled and then finally re booked all due to Covid.

This was our New York trip. We were only away for 5 nights so it was not much more than a long weekend, so I am not going to feel guilty, well not much.

Something that only a few people know about me is that I am careful about what I eat. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, quite a few years ago I decided I needed to lose some weight and in a relatively short time lost around 4 stone, and it’s not going back! The second reason is this concept that in order to be in the best position to succeed in business, there is one fundamental asset without which your business cannot thrive. That one thing is the vehicle that drives your business. It is your body and your health. It does not matter what or who is on your bus, if something happens to the driver, there will be problems. So I am careful what I eat and drink.

Except, I have a don’t care list. Not many things make it onto my don’t care list. In fact, there are only 4, being red wine, Guinness, cake and ice cream. Not that I have had a Guinness this year. It was usually something I treated myself to in the evenings at Tax Conferences and they have not restarted after Covid yet.

So, you see I am allowed (by me) to have ice cream anytime. I am frequently on the A9 between Inverness and Thurso, so I always stop at Capaldis for an ice cream. They have 2 shops and I usually stop at the one in Golspie but that has now closed for the winter, so I now go to the one in Brora. I am still on the Halloween flavours, so I had a Witches Brew last week, mint ice cream with all sorts of goodies including white chocolate mice. It’s worth a stop if you are going through Brora.

In the few days we were in New York the temperature was in the high 20s. We were melting. So, when we saw there was an Ice Cream Museum, we thought we had better check it out. Turned out to be a bit of a tourist trap and designed primarily for people a little younger than us. Still, it was a good laugh. Early in our tour, the guide asked us to come up with our ice cream names. We had to write these on pink sticky labels to wear. I think that one of the funniest moments I have experienced is two accountants trying to exercise their imaginations. The pressure was far worse than anything I have experienced recently in business. We did it! We do have imaginations, well to some degree.

I think that one of the lessons here, and one that I already understood very well, is that there are people out there who are better than me at what they do, particularly when it comes to exercising imagination and flare. When I see work done by someone like Jane Douglas, a graphic designer at Wildcat Creative or some of the photos produced by Eoghan Smith I understand my own limitations, and so for the most part I stick to what I know. Not that I don’t like a challenge but within reason.  There are things that I do that they can’t like negotiating business acquisitions or advising on the tax implications of acquisitions and disposals. Everyone to their own.

So, I don’t drink coffee, but I really like coffee and walnut cake. I also like coffee ice cream. So, what is my ice cream name? I still have my pink sticky label. On it is written Al Cappuccino. Well, I liked it. And by the way, we did not get much ice cream at the Ice Cream Museum. Still, it was a fun learning experience.

Life has a funny way of helping us to learn truths about ourselves, and with each such experience we also grow. That is of course if you are prepared to push the boundaries of your comfort zone. So, what is your ice cream name?

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Alan E Long

The Long Partnership

07770 738770



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