The opportunity to take time off when running a business, you would think should come easily …
Well …..because we are the boss!
We can do what we want….. Right?!
However, the truth is usually quite different!
I mean think about it – how many days have you actually taken off in the past 12 months?
You don’t do it intentionally, but the days turn into weeks, the weeks turn into months and lo and behold you’re at the end of the year and you’ve taken a grand total of 2 days off…
Is that really the life you envisioned when you decided to set up the business?
Not only that, are you really performing at your best if you’re not actually giving yourself the time to switch off and unwind?
Today, I want to explore preparations you could make in order to take time off when running a business.
6 Ways to help you take time off when running a business.
#1 – Plan Ahead
If you lead a team, you would be encouraging them to book off time in the holiday calendar so that you can plan ahead and ensure cover is in place.
Take that approach for yourself.
Whether you’re at the start of the year or half way through, look at your diary and start plotting some days in. Treat yourself as an employee and encourage yourself to take the full allocation if not more.
Having kids myself, means that I need to plan ahead – there is little choice not to! I try to book mine all in January, which allows me to split my time up over the year and make it non-negotiable in my head! This wasn’t the way it always was…years 1-3 I think I barely took a day off – I would always be tinkering on the laptop at some point. As the years have gone on, I’ve got stricter with my reasons for running a business, and realised it has to balance otherwise both my family and health will start to suffer.
Book the time in, make plans and it will all help you commit to taking time off.
#2 – Grow a Support Team
This can be difficult to think about when you are a team of one, but by opening yourself to additional support you are enabling continuation of your services even when you are not available.
Grow an internal team
Growing an internal team is one way to do this, building up their knowledge and gaining trust so that they can hold the fort while you take a week off. Not only could this enable more freedom for you, but it could help you grow your business at the same time.
There are lots of freelancers, contractors and support businesses out there that can provide short-term support for when you need it. There are even agencies in existence that can find your interim team members. You are taking a week off, can they help you deliver your core services?
Pull on ad-hoc support
Having a team of ad-hoc staff is a great idea for some businesses. If you own a shop, perhaps a friend would happily stand in for a week and help you remain open for business. Even though they might not be able to do everything you would, it would enable you to still service your customers and she/he could call on you in emergencies.
Create a reciprocal arrangement
Could you partner up with a similar business and offer to cover each other’s holidays? This isn’t going to work for everyone, but think about it if you are a remote operating business and need cover for your customers in emergencies. Could a similar business in a different location help you out without fear of competition?
#3 – Automate Processes
Technology can be a fantastic aid to our freedom if we use it wisely. It can save you hours of time in daily operations and ensure the system continues to operate when you are not there, by taking care of menial data entry tasks or client communications. They often take a little bit of time setting up, but genuinely you will be questioning why you didn’t do it sooner once it’s in place!
There are endless software applications available now but examples could include:
Social media scheduling
Scheduling your content ahead of time is a great practice to get into anyway to aid with creativity, but it will also enable you to continue marketing to your audience when you are not even there! AgoraPulse, Content Cal, Buffer, Hootsuite, Later are all examples of software platforms that can help you spread your word online. You can even do it directly on Facebook for Facebook and Instagram – it’s free!
Email sequences are a great concept to automate responses upon a trigger – this could be signing up for your e-book, placing an order online, onboarding of new clients or booking an appointment as examples. Following the trigger, your subscriber would then receive one or a series of pre-written emails from you over a timed period helping to aid communications. Software such as Mailerlite, Mailchimp, Active Campaign or ConvertKit can also help you with one-off broadcast emails, where you can send out emails on precise dates to your mailing list. This means you can write them ahead of time for your audience.
Software such as Zettle can help you keep up to date with stock management, and linking it to an online shop say Shopify or WooCommerce will mean that your availability on products is always kept current. This could allow you to pop online quickly and order new stock remotely if you need.
Utilising appointment software such as Calendly or Acuity means that customers could book into your calendar while you are not available to book them in yourself. You can change up the settings to show your availability – providing the link on your website or even your out of office response.
Xero, QuickBooks and Sage are all cloud accounting apps that you can access on the go. More than that though, you can set up regular payments to be created and sent to clients. This can save hours each month setting up recurring invoices, and you’ll know that you’ll still be generating income even when you are on holiday!
#4 – Communicate With Your Clients
We are all human, your clients will understand you taking a holiday. If they don’t, perhaps you have an unhealthy relationship and expectations need to be re-discussed – are you in charge of your business or are they?
A lot of the time clear communication is all they need. Explain to them ahead of time when you will be off and the measures that will be in place. You could do this individually in person, by email, or even via social media in the way of a post.
#5 – Set Yourself Rules
This is more about preparing yourself for being on holiday – moving yourself out of temptations way!
As technology has made our work so accessible via smartphones, it has become harder and harder to switch off – we are habitualised to check emails, social media channels, project management software etc. Even as we pick up our phone our brain is tuned to flick our phone and click on certain buttons unconsciously.
During time off we need to break this habit!
One of my go to’s is to delete or hide my apps on my phone. If I make it harder for myself, my brain stops looking for it or is reminded that I am on holiday and it is all being taken care of. Slowly, my brain unwinds and usually by day 2 or 3 I have properly switched off and I generally feel a lot calmer about being off. Rationalising a lot more of my thoughts, allows me to fully embrace the holiday mode and make the most of the benefits!
#6 Give Yourself Permission
Almost the hardest one of all ! Give yourself permission to switch off.
It’s your baby- I get it. But you also have a life outside of it.
Close the laptop, switch off the phone allow yourself to not be immediately available. I reckon at max 1% of communications are emergency situations – the rest could all be handled at a later stage upon your return.
Still worried that you might need to be on hand in emergency. Why not give your partners or friends number to your cover, so that should the need arise the team can still get hold of you.
How To Take Time Off When Running a Business – A Recap!
Don’t be scared to tell people that you are going on holiday – it is allowed! Stop caving to the pressure of the hustle because it will only burn you out in the long term. Remind yourself why you set your business up in the first place. It can take time to set yourself up for taking time off, so get planning and make the most of it!
- Plan ahead
- Grow a support team
- Automate processes
- Communicate with your customers
- Set rules for yourself!
- Give yourself permission
I know it’s not easy, but I promise you, you will thank me once you have recharged the batteries, and reminded yourself of the bigger picture – you will not believe how much more productive you will be!
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