Kickstarter Lesson #191: How to Go on Vacation

21 June 2016 | 25 Comments

I can't wait to see my niece and nephew!
I can’t wait to see my niece and nephew!

Since returning from Christmas break on December 30, I haven’t had a single day off. My weeks are Monday through Sunday, 70-80 hours a week, and I love every minute of it (well, almost every minute).

However, in a few days I’ll leave town for almost 2 weeks for a big family reunion (30-35 people) at the beach. I look forward to it every 2 years, and I almost completely unplug during that time (except for 30 minutes or so of e-mailing at night).

This year the reunion falls at an auspicious time. I had originally estimated that we’d deliver Scythe in August, well after the vacation, but we’re shipping early. Thousands of games are likely to be shipped while I’m watching ships pass by the Carolina shore.

Fortunately, the games are in good hands with OTX and the fulfillment companies. They have all the information they need to ship to backers.

But I’m doing a few things to make the vacation as seamless as possible for backers and general customers (I alone run the day-to-day operations of Stonemaier). The list below is not exhaustive–in fact, I’m writing this entry now in case you have any ideas of things that should be added to this list.

  1. Several weeks ago I informed my project manager at Panda (my manufacturer), my graphic designer, and several international partners with whom I’m coordinating localized print runs of our games that I would be going on vacation.
  2. I also arranged in advance for one of our Charterstone artists and a playtester for Charterstone to work on the game while I’m away. That way progress on the game can still happen while I’m busy making fish tacos for 35 people.
  3. Today I requested updates from OTX (my freight shipping company) and the fulfillment companies that have Scythe for (a) the current status of games sent and (b) an estimate of when the last few games will be sent. They’re prepared to answer urgent questions from backers who get their tracking notification and realize the game is going to the wrong place.
  4. Today I’ll prep my developer in Europe to handle social media while I’m gone, particularly questions on Facebook, BoardGameGeek, and Twitter.
  5. Tomorrow I’m going to share the news of the vacation on a project update with my backers. I’ll give them my business partner’s contact information for urgent questions. I’m posting the update close to when I’m leaving but not so close that I can’t address questions and concerns in the comments.
  6. On Thursday morning I’ll send out our monthly e-newsletter a little early (usually it goes out at the very end of the month).
  7. On Thursday I’ll end my evening by setting up out-of-office autoresponses on my e-mail accounts that direct people with urgent needs to my business partner or our developer in Europe. I’ll assure people that I will respond to all other messages when I return (I expect to get a few e-mails about people who received the wrong items or have a damaged box, etc.). UPDATE: The auto-response doesn’t work for messages sent from backers via Kickstarter.
  8. On Friday morning, minutes before I leave, I’ll tell my cats that I’m going to be away for 10 days. If I tell them any earlier, they get testy. I also get testy if I don’t get daily photo updates of what my cats are up to, so that’s a key responsibility for my house sitter.

With all of that, I feel like things are pretty well covered, though it’ll still be tough to completely let go (even if it wasn’t a shipping period). It’s interesting that I have to spend nearly an entire week planning just to take a week off, and I’m sure I’ll spend a week catching up when I return. Now do you see why it’s tough for me to go to conventions? :)

What do you think? Am I missing anything? How have fellow creators/business owners handled taking a day off, much less 10 days off?

25 Comments on “Kickstarter Lesson #191: How to Go on Vacation

  1. So similar. Also leaving for a week on Friday Morning. I’m just setting an auto-responder, and posting a notice on our webstore. : P Leave it at that and pray for the best. : O

  2. This list is exactly why I try not to take time off. I’ve learned over the years that vacations are more trouble than they’re worth to me… but I’m not normal. :)

    1. Brian: Indeed, I’m the same way. It often just creates more work. But I have found that I really value this time with my family, so it’s worth it. I just hope my backers will understand. :)

  3. A well earned and totally deserved holiday, after all that hard and professional arbeit… hope you ll be back twice as motivated and twice as efficient. Just an hour ago mentioned your professionalism in a comment of the KS Shogun Big Box by Queen Games, as they are the opposite in regards to transparent communication and backer awareness. Told them it might be wise to check with SMG for some insights and advice :-)

    1. Nicola: I can definitely relate to that! Sometimes I find some quiet moments to do that, but I try to put my family first since I only see many of these people every two years. :)

  4. Jamey,

    You can ask either of the ladies in my life…my daughter or my girlfriend, and they’ll tell you that I never relax. Maybe that’s why the Broadway show, “Hamilton” speaks to me in a personal way.

    It sounds ad though everything is in very good hands. Take the time to unwind, relax, reconnect with family, and enjoy your adorable niece and nephew.

    Cheers,
    Joe

  5. I have a sitter who sends me photos of my critters when I’m away too! It makes going away a lot easier.

    It’s weird, when I had a day job, I’d save my “vacation” time to doing something game design related, like conventions and playtesting retreats. Now that I’m spending most of my time doing this, I *still* find myself wanting to relax by working on a game. I hope that never changes!

    1. Gil: That’s awesome! I have similar experiences when I’m on vacation. I brainstorm a lot of design ideas and tweaks, probably because my brain isn’t busy running a business. It feels great.

  6. Jamey,

    I’m struggling with the idea of “value in relaxing” ~ in all seriousness, I find value in the time I spend with loved ones. That’s usually cooking together, playing games, touring museums (I do love to travel!), or singing show tunes (and that’s usually wit Kat).

    Cheers,
    Joe

  7. You said “Carolina” beach. If appropriate, then, welcome to North Carolina. We do have some nice, relaxing beaches. If instead you’re headed to Myrtle, Charleston, or somewhere else in SC, still, enjoy your time on the East coast.

  8. Yes, I find that it’s best to pick the cats up and give them a cuddle just before you leave – a kiss on the forehead, an apology and promise of “be back soon” is the only way to avoid days of sulking (and, lets be frank, a shoe full of sick).
    Unfortunately the cat that owns me knows the luggage on sight and tends to climb on-top of/inside the suitcase at every opportunity while I’m packing, looking at me with those big, sad, accusing eyes…

    Have a great vacation!

  9. Can you put off your vacation until I receive my copy of Scythe? ; ) Just joking! Thanks for your time and efforts, Jamey, which have a wonderfully positive flow-on to the rest of the gaming industry.

  10. I think the important thing to do is remember that last time you took a vacation the business was still there when you got back and that it will be next time. In the end, we’re not doing life saving surgery in this business, the worst case scenario is that we go on vacation and the entire business grinds to a halt for a week or two. And that would be fine if it happened, and it doesn’t happen anyway.

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