For many Australians, Christmas is an opportunity to take a well-earned break from work, however short, and spend time with family and friends. But for business leaders, including start-up founders, the holidays are often a juggling act: while it’s important to recharge the batteries, they remain personally responsible for their business, including its clients, regardless of the time of year. For start-up founders, in particular, operating during Christmas can be an economic imperative.
We spoke to nine leading business execs about their plans this Christmas, including how they will strike a balance between work and relaxation. After all, “all work and no play makes jack a dull boy”.
Will Davies, co-founder and CEO, Car Next Door
“Summer Holidays are the peak period for our car-sharing business, so I don’t like being too far away. I’m spending time at the in-laws over Christmas/New Years and I’ll do a few ‘on call’ shifts in case any of our users need any help. During the winter, when things are a bit quieter – that’s when I make sure I get away for at least a week and switch-off completely.
When I take holidays, I usually spending a bit of time each day just keeping on top of work. My wife actually says that she would rather I do that little bit of work each day so that I can focus on family the rest of the time, otherwise I get a little bit edgy! I wind it back to an hour a day – enough to keep on top of things so that I don’t miss any big opportunities.”
[Note: Davies was featured in a recent entrepreneur profile piece looking at the genesis and growth of Car Next Door]
Alexis Soulopoulus, co-founder and CEO, Mad Paws
“My family is planning to visit Sydney from Belgium. I am very excited to show them my favourite breakfast places in Bondi, introduce them to the Mad Paws team at our Christmas party and take them on some adventures this awesome country has to offer. We’ll go on jungle tours in Cairns and it will be our mission to find Nemo in the Great Barrier Reef.”
Nati Harpaz, CEO, Catch Group
“I will probably spend my time with the family at home enjoying a beautiful Melbourne summer. I will be about 5 months into my new role at Catch and I will probably need a few days just to relax as travelling is hard work when you have three young children. It will be a short holiday as early in January I will be flying to New York to attend the NRF Big Show, which is the largest event for the retail industry.”
Zoe Pointon, co-founder and CEO, Open Agent
“Downtime with family and friends. I’ll be in Sydney and soaking up the fact that most other Sydney-siders aren’t! It will involve beach time as well as hitting the cycle paths, swimming at the beach, and reading the paper at my local cafe.”
Peter Scutt, founder and executive director, Better Caring
“As a start-up, the work rarely stops – and at Better Caring, we work with a number of families seeking care and support over the Christmas period. We’ll be on hand over the holidays, but I am sure I will fit in some time to take advantage of the hot weather and enjoy Sydney’s beaches.”
Chris Strode, co-founder and chief product officer, Invoice2go
“I’ll be snowboarding in Canada (British Colombia) with my family this summer. That’s actually where I wrote the second version of Invoice2go, so these snow trips have been a big part of my life for a long time. And now my kids are loving it so it’s something I can share with my family.”
Phil Silverstone, general manager, Eventbrite
“The summer sees lots of events happening across the country, so it can be a busy time for us. It’s also a time for strategy and goal setting for the year ahead, so I’ll be in San Francisco working with our global team. In between all this I’m hoping to sneak away for a week at the beach with my family.”
Georgina Nelson, founder and CEO, TruRating
“I’ll be back in the UK for actual Christmas Day. It’s the usual quandary of who to spend the day with – my parents or my husband’s family – so we’ll try and hit off a full Christmas feast at both if we can get them to schedule it right. On Boxing Day we’re heading to Jo’burg in South Africa. I’ve never been, and my three-year- old will just be so wide eyed on the safari. We’re backpackers at heart; we never have any accommodation booked apart from the first night, and never stay anywhere for more than a few nights – so I’m looking forward to getting out onto the road under the big skies with my Lonely Planet and trusty old trainers, with my husband and daughter, ready for an adventure.”
Kate Morris, founder and CEO, Adore Beauty
“I am looking forward to spending a quiet summer holiday at home this Christmas. It’s been a big year for Adore Beauty with the business going global and launching new services including our Essentials portfolio which mix high street brands with luxury high end cosmetics, to name a few. Also, in my personal life my husband and I have welcomed our second child into the family. We’ll be having relatives over to visit, so we’ll do a few fun touristy Melbourne things like the zoo.”