When is it time to take some time off to recharge? When is it time to take, say, a month away? For graphic design and web CEO, Promise Tangeman, that time was in September of this year.
Promise is the leading lady behind Go Live HQ, a company building easy-to-use websites and website templates for clients to “launch what they love” and seriously grow their online sales. Creating websites for clients like Girlboss, Create & Cultivate, and We Wore What, Promise also frequently shares nuggets of entrepreneurial and marketing wisdom on Instagram, not to mention some of the best #OOTD content out there.
Taking a solid four weeks off doesn’t just happen out of nowhere, so I asked her to rewind with us. As a business owner, what does it take to plan a month OOO, and what does it give you to take a step away?
Tell us a little about your team. How do you generally work together at Go Live HQ?
We have an amazing team of remote workers all across the country and even in Canada! We stay in touch via Google Hangouts, GChat, and we work together and handle all of our project management in Basecamp. Because we all work remotely, it’s so important to stay in constant contact. We also fly out teammates occasionally so we can actually work all in person together for a week or so to continue team building and keeps spirits high! At times, we have even had video calls on while we are working independently, and it feels like you have someone working alongside you at your desk.
It can be tempting for budding creative entrepreneurs to think that one has to do it all on their own, and know how to manage the business side at the same level as their natural talents. What advice on teamwork or education would you give to someone just starting out?
It’s important to know your strengths and weaknesses! If you aren’t afraid to point out your weaknesses, you can hire someone whose strengths fill out your weak points. For example, my first hire was for an administrative position for things such as emails, booking, invoicing, client calls, follow-ups, etc. If I’m being honest, I am TERRIBLE at those things. Those kinds of tasks tended to keep me from being able to work into my strengths as the Creative Director and do what I do best for the company. I always try to hire people so that my company is well-rounded in terms of strengths, so all our bases are covered.
How do you discern what tasks you should entrust to someone else? What has that process of delegating work looked like in your business?
Delegate the tasks that don’t require you or your special sauce.
For example, I am really needed in our company specifically for things that move the business forward into new territory and keep us innovative. These are things that no one else on the team can do. I then hire out for items that are vital to keeping the business running, but don’t necessarily require me to do them.
This also can be seasonal in your business as you grow and change. For example, before, I needed admin help so that I could really be the main designer. Now that we have a team of designers and I am designing websites less and less, I am able to focus my time on new initiatives, on how the company is growing, and other CEO and Creative Director tasks as my business has grown.
Gearing up to take that time away, how did you and your team prepare to have you OOO?
For some of my team members, I gave them special or specific authority over the business for the time that I was gone so they could make decisions in my stead. For some, that meant working ahead of time and getting approval ahead of schedule on new projects or ventures. We also talked through the schedule for the whole month before I left so everyone knew exactly what was ahead, what to expect, and what they were responsible for.
What was one key takeaway for you from taking the month off to recharge? In what ways did your team shine or step up in leadership?
The team really took pride and ownership in their roles while I was away. They treated the business like it was their business, and I appreciated that. Through this experience I’ve learned that I should probably step away MORE and take time to recharge, dream, and plan.
It’s definitely counterintuitive to think that taking time away would actually move the business farther forward faster, but I’ve experienced that to be true.
That speaks really wonderfully to the culture you’ve grown within your company. What led you to decide to that much time off of work?
In the last decade of running my business, I had never taken more than a week or so off.
As an entrepreneur, it can be seriously draining to really never take time away from something you’ve created from the ground up.
I finally felt confident enough to to step away after really spending the last year and a half selecting, training, and fostering my team, and letting them get really good at what they do for the company. My team also assured me they also felt confident and even encouraged me to take the time for some much needed self-care.
Do you gain inspiration for your projects now the same way you did before leading a team at Go Live HQ?
In the past, one of my main jobs was finding inspiration for the actual design we did for our clients; however, now I entrust my designers to lead the charge on inspiration and execution for our clients. In my role now as the company lead and CEO, I spend my creative time finding inspiration for new ventures and new paths the company could take to stay fresh and innovative. I also work with our clients less on the design and more in their positioning and marketing strategy for the big picture. That is such a fun and new way for me to be creative now in a strategic way. I get inspiration for those things by taking courses that keep me ahead of marketing and strategy trends, following innovative companies, and always keeping the spirit of being a learner.
What is the importance of taking time away from work? Is there a way to make sure time off is truly recharging you as a creative and as a business owner?
My favorite tip to give out regarding time away is to know the difference between a trip and a vacation. Those things could mean different things for different people, but for me, a trip is something like sightseeing, seeing family, and generally having a schedule that is “go-go-go.” Oppositely, a vacation for me is just about getting away and relaxing. I have nowhere to be and no responsibilities.
For me, my creative mind fires up when I’m not doing conscious activities, like things that you have to really think about doing. That’s when I am truly able to rest and recharge. So, when you are looking at taking time away, I’d recommend really finding out what rest looks like for you and doing those things, instead of doing things that might make you feel more tired after your “vacation!”
Photos courtesy of Go Live HQ