Could you afford to shut for a week like City A.M.?

Monday morning, time for a news round-up thinks Smarta. So off we go to the website of trusted business freesheet City A.M. only to find the scamps have decided to shut up shop and swan off on holiday for a week.

Go to today or any day until next Tuesday and you’ll be met by the following announcement:

City A.M. on holiday until Tuesday September 1st
Saturday, 22nd August 2009
City A.M.
City A.M. editorial staff are taking a well earned break this week.  The next issue of the newspaper is out on Tuesday September 1st when the online news stories will also be updated ... [read more]

Smarta didn’t bother to ‘read more’ and clicked elsewhere for its updates – as no doubt thousands of other users will over the 11 days City A.M. considers it OK to stop producing content.

Now you’d think, given publishing is in such a state even Rupert Murdoch is searching for new revenue models, the last thing any content producer could afford to do is stop producing content. You’d also think a title that’s rumoured to be increasingly propped-up by spread-betting advertising would be looking to spread its revenue streams a little wider and keep online users switched on not switched off.

Not that Smarta’s own weary band of writers doubts the need for City A.M. editorial’s ‘well earned break’, but surely there’s a cleverer way of managing staff holiday? Does everybody need to down tools at once for an old school manufacturing-style shut down?

Feels a bit archaic and makes you wonder how serious City A.M. really is about having a web audience. I know if I was the marketing manager at Dell or William Hill, the ads currently being served on City A.M.’s homepage, I’d be questioning the wisdom of spending on a site that doesn’t update for over a week.

There’s a broader issue here, of course. City A.M. doesn’t really have an excuse for shutting up shop, but what about all of you running shops, small factories, home businesses, start-ups who simply can’t fathom how to tear yourselves away?

It’s claimed small business owners take on average just 13 days a year holiday and I’d suggest the reality is it’s probably fewer. With business as tough as it is at the moment and when there’s nobody obvious to hold the fort, it can seem impossible to escape even for a few days.

If you’re in that situation, you have our sympathy. For some the solution is trust and letting go. Allowing someone else to share responsibility for opening and locking up, running the books, cashing-up and going to the bank, making orders, chasing invoices etc might seem a huge risk but it could be a massive opportunity as well – not just for a much-needed rest, but to let you focus on growing the business not just being its full-time babysitter.

Whatever you do this summer, our advice would be that you don’t follow City A.M.’s example and simply shut up shop.

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