It’s summer – vacation time for most of the modern world. But for small business owners, time off may seem like a luxury you can’t afford. After all, who will mind the store, seize the opportunity or attend to the possible crisis that might arise when you’re not around?
The small business you started for the freedom it offers may be keeping you tethered to your home turf. But there are many good reasons to make a point of taking time off and things you can do to take the worry out of being away.
- Your health. All work and no play makes for stress. Stress translates to a higher risk of heart attack, depression and a lowered immunity to illness in general. A little rest can do your body and your mind a lot of good.
- Creativity. Focusing on getting things done is a left-brained activity. Creativity comes from the right side of your brain. Your brain needs downtime from the everyday in order for inspiration and ideas to germinate and percolate to the surface. Who knows: that new idea might be a game-changer for your business. If not, it will at least be fun to entertain.
- Your family. You may see your family every day, but for how long? And is it quality time? Vacation presents the opportunity to renew your connections without the usual workaday duties and distractions. The effects may endure well after vacation is over.
- Perspective. It’s always helpful to take a step back and reflect on what’s important – in your business and your life. Are your priorities in place? What adjustments might help you get better balance with all the things that matter to you? To see the big picture, you need a little distance. Time off can yield that.
- Your business. As a healthy, relaxed, creative small business owner with fresh perspective and renewed relationships, you’re bound to be happier and more productive at whatever you do. Your business will benefit. So will your relations with employees and customers.
How to Make a Small Business Owner Vacation Possible
So the benefits may be indisputable but that still leaves open the question of logistics: how to make vacation happen in a way that keeps your business running strong and doesn’t cause you additional stress. Here are some tips.
- Build vacation into your yearly schedule. Plan your time off well in advance and block it off on the calendar. If your business has periods that are predictably slow, that’s the optimal time to choose, even if it means you’re vacationing during the off-seasons.
- Empower your employees. It’s easier to vacate if you know you’re leaving your business in capable hands. Throughout the year, train your staff on critical business functions. Share some of the responsibilities you normally assume. Your employees will be empowered – and better equipped to steer your business and make the right decisions when you’re away.
- Delegate and prepare your staff. As vacation time approaches, designate your most capable and reliable person to be in charge. Prepare staff with any information that may be needed in your absence: detailed instructions, possible problems that may arise and how to handle them, and guidelines for when you should be contacted. Touch base with key employees before you leave to address any questions or concerns.
- Notify key customers. Let them know how long you’ll be gone and who will be on hand to help them while you’re away. Give a few weeks’ advance notice and another heads-up just prior to your departure. This will help your clients plan for your absence and schedule around it.
- Check in, but only if you have to. The ideal vacation scenario is a complete escape from all things work related, but that’s not always possible or preferable for many small business owners. If you need to sneak in a little work time, set a schedule for doing so and stick to it.
Of course, mobile devices are great enablers of the remote worker and the small business vacationer. Just make sure your mobile use doesn’t creep in and take over your vacation. Stick with email and voicemail if you can, and try to limit your tethered time to an hour or so a day.
Do you have worry-free vacations?
If so, what’s your secret? Share your perspectives and tips on vacation for business owners in the comments section below. We’ll all benefit!