Appscore founders Alex Louey (left) and Nick Bell (right). Image courtesy: Sammway.

Alex Louey: how to go on a holiday (and enjoy it) while running a startup

Sam McKeith

Alex Louey doesn’t often go on holiday. And that’s no big thing for the founder of Melbourne-based mobile-first digital marketing agency Appscore.

For Louey, running a successful start-up has gone from nothing to an outfit with 200 staff and offices worldwide in six years – is about knuckling down and working super hard for at least your first three years of business.

Only after that, and if everything’s going peachy with the business, does the digital technology expert advise taking some time off.

“For the first week and a half, I’m still on the phone as I gradually wind down."

And to make sure you actually unwind, Louey has a few choice words of wisdom.

His big one: disconnect from the day-to-day running of your business slowly by scheduling regular phone calls with managers for the first week or so, then only receive calls if they’re urgent.

“For the first week and a half, I’m still on the phone as I gradually wind down. That gives me comfort that things aren’t out of control – fortunately or unfortunately a lot of founders are control freaks,” he says.

“This also allows the rest of the team to ramp up and get used to you not being there, because if you’re a hands on entrepreneur founder, they will have got used to you being there to call the shots.”

Louey also advises building in some flexibility on the timing of the break in case things all of a sudden get busy at work, and also urges trying to schedule your vacation at slow times of the year, like over Christmas.

Once he’s comfortable the wheels aren’t going to fall off at the office, Louey tends to go where he’s forced be truly present, which usually means a destination without phone or internet reception.

“You’re used to operating at such an intense level that any down time for an extended period actually feels like a lot of relief.”

“Often I go hiking, where I can’t get a phone” he says. “I might go down to Tassie where I know I absolutely will not get reception, or a national park in the US where I know there’s no reception,” he says.

“Those types of places are always great because I just don’t have an option to be in contact – you can’t get phone reception even if you want to, you can’t get Facebook.”

He says two weeks is usually all he needs to fully unwind and have a few totally stress-free days, then return to the real world recharged.

“It takes me a week-and-a-half to wind down but those three days afterwards are absolute gold,” he says. “You’re used to operating at such an intense level that any down time for an extended period actually feels like a lot of relief.”

Sam McKeith

Sam McKeith is Sydney-based media professional. He has contributed to many leading publications including The Huffington Post, The Australian Financial Review, The Australian and BRW Magazine. He was previously a senior reporter at the Australian Associated Press where he covered national affairs.

Image: Appscore founders Alex Louey (left) and Nick Bell (right) via Sammway.

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