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Taking a Vacation

It has been said that in ” …matters of healing the body and mind, vacation is a true genius” (Mehmet Murat Ildan) and that some “… of your best ideas come when you’re on vacation” (Gautam Singhania).

If this is truly the case then why is it that so many small business owners have such a difficult time disconnecting and taking a true vacation?  (I know this to be true because I am married to a small business owner).  Perhaps it’s because they are in start-up mode and fear losing momentum with potential clients and investors.  Another reason could be that they fear disappointing or even losing customers. 

Whatever the reason there is no doubt that it is difficult to unplug especially when you are a responsible small business owner.  However, the fact remains that it is vital for yourself and for the business that you do so.

THE “WHY?” BEHIND TAKING A VACATION

1.  It Improves Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Health

I don’t think that there are many who would argue that taking a vacation is good for the soul.  In fact, you do not have to look very hard to find that there are studies showing that a break from the stressors of work and the regular routine of life enhances physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. 

Prolonged stress is powerful.  It has been shown to contribute to heart disease and high blood pressure.  Furthermore, it impacts negatively on our mental health contributing to anxiety and depression.  A prolonged break relieves stress and allows the body and mind time to heal.  Spiritually it gives time to meditate and refocus.  In fact, those who return from vacation often find they have renewed perspective, motivation, creativity, and increased productivity.

2.  Beneficial to Relationships

Vacation is not only good for our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, but it is also beneficial to our relationships.  Spending time with family and friends keeps our relationships strong.  People reconnect and feel valued when time is invested in relationships.

Where vacation is concerned one could apply the “Oxygen Mask Rule” which is the practice of securing your mask before assisting others.  In other words, taking care of yourself enables you to make sure you are physically, mentally, spiritually, and relationally healthy.  You can then better invest in the lives of others and your business.

THE “HOW?” BEHIND TAKING A VACATION

So, there is no doubt that a vacation is helpful to one’s overall being.  However, the question remains how does a small business owner manage to actually take one?  Today people seem to be working longer hours and taking less time off than in times gone by.  This is particularly true for the entrepreneur. 

Usually the smaller the business the more likely it is to spend a great deal of time working.  The irony is those who find it difficult to take a break are exactly the ones deserving of it.  Being aware that a vacation is beneficial and that you are more than likely deserving of one,  here are some tips on making it happen.

Tip 1: Plan, Plan, Plan

Planning is the key to making a vacation happen.  If you don’t you will most likely continue to work.  First, you need to set a date and stick to it.  This is non-negotiable.  As a small business owner, you might wish to take two one-week vacations as opposed to a full two weeks or you might be in a position where you can go away for a month and have a “workation” where you work remotely.  This may sound counter vacation but as they say, “a change is as good as a rest”.   

Whatever you decide it is important to consider going during your off-season as much as possible.  Doing so may not coincide with your children’s school schedule so it may be necessary to pull them out.  By planning, you can inform their teacher and have them work ahead. 

Once you have the date and location it is important to plan for some activities.  There is no need to overschedule, but think about what you might like to do, places you might like to see, and books or articles you may wish to read that are not related to work.  This way you will not be tempted to be glued to your phone or computer.   

As a small business owner, especially if you’re a solopreneur it may not be possible to totally unplug especially initially.  Therefore, the second thing to plan is how connected you want and need to be on your vacation and set the boundary.     Perhaps you will connect once or twice a day, first thing in the morning and/or early evening.  Also, plan on when you will look and respond to emails.  Having determined this be sure to communicate your boundaries with your staff and customers. Now that you have a plan it is time to prepare.

Tip 2: Prepare

There are several considerations when preparing for your vacation.  The more you prepare the more likely you will have a great holiday.

A.  Inform your Staff

If you have employees it is important to make them aware well in advance of when you will be taking a vacation.  Prepare necessary tasks that need to be completed by your team ahead of time.  Perhaps you may wish to train one or two individuals to handle some specifics while you are gone.  Delegate to your team. It is also important to have contingency plans and emergency plans in place. 

A contingency/emergency plan may be as simple as having one person with your cell phone number or the number of a person who is part of your network.  You may also wish to consider upgrading your phone plan if necessary.  Trust your team and view this as a growth experience.

As a solopreneur, you may wish to consider outsourcing. This might be to a well-trusted friend or family member.  Virtual assistants are also an option.

B.  Inform your Clients/Suppliers

It is critical that your clients are aware of when you will be away from the office on vacation.  Some suggest that you make them aware 6 weeks in advance, and then remind them shortly before you go.   If you have a second in command or a virtual assistant let your customers know who they are and how they can be contacted in your absence.   If you have suppliers be sure to let them know and amend orders if necessary.

C.  Automate as Much as Possible

Advances in technology have made taking a vacation simpler.  As much as possible place clear systems in the background to do automated tasks.  Be sure to leave an auto-responder on your email and voicemail as well as schedule your social media in advance through Facebook or Buffer, a simple social media tool.   Furthermore, look for every means possible to automate your business from your mobile device. 

Mobile apps such as Pro-ledger Online allow you to do your bookkeeping anywhere.  You can also use google docs and sheets to have information at your fingertips.  The more automated systems and processes you have in place the more you will enjoy your holiday.

D. Work Ahead

Let’s face it there are some tasks that only you, as the owner can complete.  Schedule some extra time before you leave to make sure that all the necessary tasks and paperwork that you are solely responsible for are complete.  As much as one does not wish to return to a lot of work, determine what can wait until you return. Perhaps you might tac on an extra 30-60 minutes for a few days to take some extra steps to be assured all that needs to be completed or in place is so.  In the long run, this extra time will pay off by giving you peace of mind while you are away.

“Neglecting vacation is neglecting success because every success needs an accumulated positive energy”. (Mehmet Murat Ildan)  Not only will a vacation help you physically, mentally, and spiritually, but it will provide you what is needed to energize your business.  Vacations are possible for the small business owner when you plan and prepare. What’s stopping you?  There’s no time like the present to plan and prepare.

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