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Inside Alpaca

How Alpaca is building a 14-month year

Karen Borchert
November 15, 2023

I was told recently with regards to an important initiative for our company “you get it done in October or you get it done in January. No work gets done between Thanksgiving and New Years.”

Ok, honestly?! I already feel like I am constantly attaching a snorkel to my snorkel every day of building a company. I am told this is normal. There is simply ALWAYS more work than time in a start-up, and we want every moment we can get our hands on to achieve big, big things.

So at Alpaca’s 2023 fall retreat, we decided that the idea of “no work between Thanksgiving and New Years” gives our team an opportunity. Because if we’re willing to reject the idea that the next 8 weeks are toast, that’s 6-8 weeks that we have to build the next big thing, get new systems in place, spend time with customers, sell a bunch of stuff, and get a 2 month jump on 2024. In essence: a 14 month year.

To accomplish it, we’re doing the following:

  1. Define our high level 2024 company goals by November 1. We don’t have every key result perfectly articulated, but we can plant a flag on the hill for the end of 2024 and start working toward it right freakin’ now. To do it, we got the plans rolling at our retreat and we’re bringing our team together Nov 1 to refine and finalize our goals. Sure, we’ll refine and change them. But everyone does that, whether you set them in November or January. I’ll take the extra time.

  2. Set 2 month mini-goals for Dec 31. If we want to achieve that BIG goal for 2024, what might we need to put in place by year-end to accomplish it? Do we need to purchase software? Hire a role or two? Say no to some stuff? (Probably!) Every team member will be armed November 1 with one Little Win to finish the year off ready for the BIG wins of 2024.

  3. Stay intentional about time together. I believe that more creative, generative, innovative work happens in person. I just do. I also believe in balance, and we close our office for time with families over the holidays. But nothing is better than working together in person on problems worth solving, all hands on deck. We’re making it a priority to make it fun and rewarding through the holiday season, cold weather, and end of the year. (Hey, come visit!)

In short: if we’re willing to reject the idea that no work is done after November, we find a 14 month year. And that’s the kind of year we’re looking for, because we’ve got big work to do.

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