Taking a vacation isn’t always easy as a small business owner. Between worrying about missed opportunities and what employees are doing while you are gone, it’s hard for any small business owner to schedule some stress-free time off. But taking that much-needed and well deserved time off from work has real tangible benefits to your personal wellbeing and to your business. It’s crucial to take time to reconnect with family and friends and to enjoy the fruits of your labour. To ensure a holiday that’s relaxing and free of nagging work-related stresses, here are a few things to remember to do before taking off:
- We all wish we had a clone to help carry out our numerous personal and professional responsibilities, but until the technology becomes available, you must simply accept that you can’t be everywhere at once. So first and foremost, appoint a reliable interim replacement that can manage and field any concerns or issues that arise when you are gone. Make sure they have a copy of important information, numbers and passwords that pertain to your business that they may need, as well as your contact information, itinerary and where you can be reached while you are gone, in case of major issues. It also helps to define with your team what actually qualifies as a “major issue” for which you need to be flagged down. Give them the autonomy to handle smaller issues without your involvement - they’ll appreciate the added responsibility, and you can keep working on that frozen daiquiri.
- It may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s not uncommon for small business owners to get so caught up in pre-vacation busyness that they forget to let their key clients, customers and stakeholders know that they’ll be off the grid. Always let everyone know of the exact dates you will be out of the office or the shop, and be sure to do this a few weeks before you leave, so that any last minute meetings can be scheduled. Make sure they have the contact information of your interim replacement and that you have an opportunity to connect before you leave to address any question or concerns. For anyone you missed, it’s always good practice to set up “out of office message” for your email and phone so those who are trying to contact you know not to expect a response to their message anytime soon. It may be wise to also attach your interim’ email or number incase it’s an emergency.
- Don’t schedule anything to go “live” just before or during your vacation like a big ad campaign or new website design. You don’t want to be dealing with last minute mistakes or changes while you are trying to relax. If anything, try to schedule launches well before your holiday so that your vacation can act as your reward - the light at the end of the tunnel following a stretch of hard work. Alternatively, you can schedule major events to take place a few weeks after your holiday, so you can tackle your important milestones and challenges with a clear mind following a period of rest.
- Even though it is easier to take your business with you while you travel via your smartphone and laptop, it’s important to make sure you set a time limit when checking in on your business back home. Attempts at trying to “balance” work with vacation can result in feelings of guilt or resentment from loved ones. You may also find that in your efforts to show your clients and employees your above-and-beyond dedication achieve the exact opposite of the desired outcome - you may actually end up frustrating employees and customers who are receiving half-baked thoughts or confusing feedback. If your head is not 100% in the game, you may be doing more harm than good by trying to play along. Instead, put trust in your team and enforce boundaries with customers/clients/partners by stepping back and letting go.
- Last but not least, be sure to do all of your banking and ensure your finances are in order before you go on holiday. All loan payments and accounts should be caught up or prepaid. If any accounts come due while you are out of town, it would be smart to prepay or set up automatic payments with your bank. This also goes for any personal banking. This is also a good time to consider debt consolidation - taking out a small business loan at a good rate to pay off multiple high interest loans can streamline payments significantly and set the tone for a stressless vacation. Finally, make sure you call your bank before leaving to let them know when and where you’ll be travelling - they’ll make note of your travel plans on your account so that the transactions abroad aren’t perceived as suspicious, which can result in credit card holds or other impact to your accounts.