BUSINESS STRATEGY & GROWTH • April 8, 2015
2 minutes Read
Now that spring is in the air, it’s time to start thinking about the “V” word: vacation. For many dedicated small business owners, “vacation” is something other people do, but it shouldn’t be. Everybody needs some time off – yes, even you.
Here’s how to ensure that things run smoothly while you’re gone.
1. Make realistic vacation plans.
Obviously, your destination and length of stay will depend upon the type of business you own and how well it can be run in your absence. Maybe you can’t disappear to a remote island in the South Pacific for a month, but most likely you can get away, even if it’s just a “staycation.” Consider whether you can (or want to) go totally “unplugged,” or if you’ll need to check in with the office once in a while. Much will depend upon the capabilities of your workforce or partners. As important as it is for you to take a vacation, figuring out what type of vacation to take is a crucial business decision so put some thought into it.
2. Take care of as many details as possible before you go.
While presumably your employees can handle the day-to-day operations in your absence, you’ll probably feel more at ease if you can get some things out of the way before you go. A June 2014 article in Bloomberg Weekly suggests that you pay as many bills as possible, get up-to-date with your suppliers, let major customers know whom they can contact in your absence, and brief your key employees. Put off major projects if possible.
This is one of the biggest challenges for many small business owners every day. No matter how many preparations you make before you go, you can’t take care of every little detail – and you shouldn’t have to. Joyce Maroney, director of the Workforce Institute at Kronos, says all entrepreneurs should be grooming their successors anyway, and suggests that taking a vacation can be a great “test run” to see just how competent these potential successors are. Make sure all employees are well briefed on their duties in your absence.
4. Keep in touch with your team without breathing down their necks.
The extent to which you can really “unplug” and totally escape will depend upon the nature of your business and the competence of your crew. More than likely you’ll want to at least give your key people a way to get in touch with you, even if you say that it’s only to be in case of an emergency. (And of course you will want to have an emergency backup plan in place.) You need to decide ahead of time how you will monitor the goings-on at your business, and you absolutely must set appropriate – and realistic – communication boundaries for your employees (and yourself). Remember that the purpose of a vacation is to “vacate” your work for a while.
5. Think ahead to your return – but don’t obsess.
Amex small-biz advisor Alice Breden suggests that you make a list of items you want to tackle when you return, noting, “It makes coming back a little less painful, and it’ll refresh your mind so you remember what you need to work on next.” The key is not to get so caught up in thinking about getting back that you forget to enjoy being away. And to make your return less stressful and give yourself a little recuperation time, small business expert Julie Elaine Brown recommends that you “pad” your vacation time by telling everyone it starts earlier and ends later than it really does.
6. Give yourself permission to have fun.
This might sound a little silly, but it’s also one of the toughest steps of all for many hard-working business owners and entrepreneurs. Yet it’s arguably the most important: if you feel guilty about having fun, why go on vacation at all?
Taking a much deserved – and well-planned – time off can make you and your business stronger. So get busy, get ready, and have the time of your life.
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