Reaching a point where you can reward yourself with a vacation is a great treat in itself and I'm about to do just that, when I leave this weekend for a 2-week wine-tasting vacation through Italy, Monaco and France.
But, since work as a business owner never ends, in order to create this dream vacation for myself, I'll be putting in some extra work before I leave.
A big part of this preparation is readying my businesses to function without me, even for just a short period of time.
Here are four tips that I recommend that have helped me successfully plan and enjoy a vacation without hurting my businesses:
Get Your Staff Ready
No employee is going to do well when his or her supervisor up-and-leaves without any notice or preparation. You'll need these workers to take on some of your duties and know how to respond to tasks and needs without your authority. For their sake and the sake of your business, you need to take steps to prepare your employees.
Making these preparations can be a lot of work, especially when you leave your business for the first time. Employees and contractors need to be trained on where to get the answers to everything they need. They need to know how to handle various tasks that you normally do, and this requires establishing training time. In a sales environment, you might want to hand off customer interactions responsibilities to some of your workers and observe them for a period of time before you leave — this will give you reassurance of their performance even as you help them polish their own skills.
Ultimately, you'll probably need at least a week to get things ready, but consider your unique circumstances and adjust accordingly. You might need several weeks or even a month to get everything together.
Travel in the Slow Season
Most businesses see peaks and valleys in terms of how much work they get throughout the year. Sometimes this changes on a weekly basis, with weekdays or weekends seeing a decline in sales. Other times it's a particular part of the calendar year that tends to be slower than the rest. Whatever the case for your particular business, try to plan your vacation around these periods to keep yourself at work when you'll be needed most.
Maintain a Line of Communication
Most business owners would love to cut the cord and be completely disconnected from their businesses while they're on vacation. But that's not always practical, and the isolation could actually make it tougher to enjoy your escape from real life. Despite your desires, it's smart to keep a line of communication open between you and your business. Whether this is email or phone is up to you, but it reduces the anxiety of having to cover every last detail while making you available for any urgent or emergency needs.
In some cases, simply knowing that everything is running well will be reassurance enough to let you get back outside and work on that tan.
Create a Back-to-Work Plan
If there's a downside to going on vacation, it's usually waiting for you when you return to work. Business owners typically return after a period away to find themselves swamped with work and overwhelmed. It's hard to erase those obligations, but you can create a system to better address those needs.
For starters, set aside time upon your return to attend to the work that has piled up. Keep your schedule free of obligations on that first day as you catch up with your business. Meet with employees to discuss operations while you were gone and get a sense of your duties in the coming days. Once you've re-oriented yourself in your environment, you can move ahead with scheduling meetings and getting back in the swing of things.
By taking the proper precautionary steps, you should be able to enjoy a stress-free vacation while your business floats on without springing any leaks. It's not easy for hands-on owners, but even a short getaway will be rejuvenating for you and good for the business.