To small-business owners, taking a vacation can seem like an irresponsible indulgence. Those who do take vacations are often in a constant state of worry. Many rarely take days off, sometimes even working on major holidays.
They become so entrenched in making sure everything runs smoothly that leaving their business in the care of anyone else for any period of time seems like an impossibility. But too much work and not enough R&R is a surefire recipe for burnout, and taking a little bit of time away can be an excellent way to gain some much-needed perspective.
So if you are a small-business owner in need of a break, how can you take a vacation that really feels like a vacation, without worrying that the entire enterprise will collapse in your absence?
Obviously, making sure the business runs smoothly is a chief concern for vacationing entrepreneurs. One way to ensure that it’s business as usual is to select a second-in-command to take care of management duties while you’re gone. This person should be someone who is responsible, capable, and respected by the rest of your staff. Make a list of all of the duties this person will need to perform as your proxy, and make sure they’re comfortable with them.
Before you leave, delegate all of the duties you normally perform to individual staff members. If they’re unsure of how to perform certain tasks, give them a crash-course, and make sure to leave detailed instructions with them, just in case they forget some of the finer points.
Test the Waters
Before going on a month-long sabbatical, give your employees a trial run. Take a long weekend off during the slow season, and let your employees know that you’ll be available via phone or email to assist them in case of emergencies. Make a list of their requests for help, and have them take notes on any questions they might come up with in your absence.
When you return, address their concerns and help them develop the competencies they’ll need when you take an extended break. After a few trial runs, they will probably be ready to run your business without a hitch.
Don’t Have Employees?
Solo entrepreneurs don’t have employees who can take up the slack when they’re out of town, but that doesn’t mean they can’t take vacations. The key lies in finding someone to assist clients in your absence. Let’s say you’re a marketing consultant. Chances are good that you network with others in your field. Why not enlist one of them to address your clients’ needs while you’re away, and offer to return the favor the next time they find themselves in need of some time off?
Notify Your Clients
Your clients understand that you’re not a machine. Everyone needs a break once in a while. As long as you take the time to properly manage their expectations, there is little to worry about. Just make sure they have contact information for your proxy, and reassure them that if they have pressing needs, they will be met.