25 July 2019 | 14 Comments
Ever since I started running Stonemaier Games as my full-time job in December 2013, I’ve spent nearly every day (7 days a week) in my home office.
In my 20s, I loved traveling. My goal was to visit somewhere different and exotic every year–I have so many great memories from those trips. But as soon as I felt the weight of my company on my shoulders, I stopped prioritizing travel. Instead, I’d visit family a few times a year, and I went to Seattle last year. That’s it.
The two main challenges for me were (a) my desire to be constantly available for public and private customer service and (b) when I’d return from even a short trip, I felt like I had so much to catch up on that it made me less inclined to leave the office in the first place.
But recently I decided that I wanted to reopen the possibility of exploring the world on a more regular basis without sacrificing my commitment to Stonemaier Games. So I started small: a short road trip and a 4-day stay in Kansas City. Here’s what I tried and learned along the way:
- I planned the timing of the trip based on a few different factors (mostly internal). Basically, I was able to choose a time that didn’t conflict with any major event (game announcement, a preorder, or an intense fulfillment period) that would require a hands-on approach. External factors didn’t play much of a role in this trip, but for the future, I’ll definitely be targeting certain times of the year.
- In the week leading up to the trip, I tried to get ahead of schedule as much as possible. Fortunately, both WordPress and YouTube let you schedule posts for the future, so was able to create them in advance and not have to worry about manually publishing them at the right time.
- I decided in advance that I would work while on vacation. I think there’s value in being intentional either way. I knew there were a few days when I would work very little and other days when I would have longer blocks of time. This foresight impacted my planning, as there were certain tasks I decided to not to cover in advance, and it made the prospect of the trip less stressful for me, as I wasn’t dreading returning to a ton of work.
- I equipped myself with a few forms of technology. At home, I work on a PC desktop with two large monitors. That’s not very portable. So I bought a top-rated travel-friendly laptop, the Dell XPS 13, which turned out to be great. I’m glad I chose it over a tablet, as I’ve found my iPad to be more of a consumption device than a creation device. Also, I had my iPhone, which I used frequently in non-social situations during the trip to check on social media. As a result, I didn’t even post an “out of office” messages, and I doubt people could even tell I was gone.
- I brought a limited number of game design supplies. I spend a lot of my game design time on InDesign, which greatly benefits from a big monitor. I didn’t even try to use it on my laptop. Instead, I brought a binder for a game I’m working on and a pencil. This actually turned out to be really nice, as it was nice to resist the lure of my computer for a while.
- I’m very fortunate that so many fans of our games are willing to answer questions on social media. This takes a ton of pressure off me. It’s also helpful that the various independent contractors with whom we work are–per that title–very independent. They operate on an ongoing basis without oversight from me, so no special procedures were necessary while I was gone.
Granted, this was a short trip to a nearby city; I’m sure a longer, more distant trip will result in a revised approach. So I’d love to hear your tips for running a business from the road. What has worked well for you?
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