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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Personal, business, or both

This image of a construction worker at Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, is relevant to the business, but does the viewing of some construction sites make the family vacation over the Christmas holidays a business trip? Not in this case: We kept our costs rock-bottom low, but used personal not business funds to pay for the vacation.

Successful entrepreneurs rarely truly separate their personal and business lives. If you start your business because of your passion, skills, and drive for the business, you can't just "leave it at the office" when your work day ends. This isn't that bad, of course, if you are married to someone who shares your entrepreneurial values (my wife, thankfully does), and you don't allow your business time to take away so much from your family that you cannot be with the key people in your personal life.

A more complex and challenging situation occurs when you merge your personal and business interests to improve your life. At least one major Canadian construction association, for example, structures its conferences so that every second year they are in warm and sunny places, and all conference business sessions are conducted in the morning, leaving the afternoons (and most evenings) free. The conference brochure also outlines the resort's "Children's program".

Lets call this what it really is, a free ride, vacation junket (paid for by the company, regional construction association, or your business, which then claims the business expense deductions for the conference.)

Other examples of merged business and personal activities include season's tickets for major league sports teams, cultural events "sponsorships" and the like. If you can bring your family along, all the better.

Is this bad marketing or business? Here, things get a little complicated -- and potentially lucratively interesting. Clearly, if you enjoy these free activities, and you are associating with current and potential clients, the time is well spent. We melded for example last summer a visit to the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) national conference in Denver with a family vacation. (I claimed my air fare, and the hotel accommodations for the actual conference days as business expenses, obviously reducing costs for our family overall.)

But there is an argument against this sort of mixing of business and pleasure; and it occurs when the pleasure overrides your business judgment and common sense, or causes you to fail to appreciate the true cost of your enjoyment. For example, if your company is struggling, how would your employees feel if you enjoy your annual junket?

Think carefully when you "ask" your company to pay for something that benefits you personally. But when it makes sense, go for it -- nothing says you can't enjoy your life when you are running a business.

3 comments:

Mark Buckshon said...

Received this comment, but with a hidden link to another site under the word 'construction'. Nice try, but you aren't going to sneak that sort of thing by me!

"The image of this construction worker was a nice caption. The question attached by this image is relevant to the business but maybe it is possible that the viewing of some construction sites make the family vacation over the Christmas holidays a business trip and the payment for all of those vacation is can be got from their own wallet."

Dennis Scheer said...

What do you mean by a hidden link with the word 'construction'?

Isn't this a marketing construction blog?

But, I know that comments are basically crap now days for marketing, but directories are pretty bad too right?

I can't keep up with it.

Mark Buckshon said...

Dennis, the old comment you found included a hyperlink to a business; it was effectively a "spam comment" which I elected to publish after stripping out the linkages within the comment.

Most of the 'gimmick' or manipulation SEO techniques don't work well these days. The general trend is to see if publishers will post "guest posts" or even sell these posts, with the embedded links. I of course decline these on my active blog at www.constructionmarketingideas.com.

(This blog is maintained for archival purposes but not actively managed these days.)