Small business owners need to take vacation. Having a plan and automating tasks with a CRM and marketing automation system will help. As a small business owner, I used to think that taking a vacation was impossible. After all, running my business and keeping up with the kids leaves little time for anything else. However, I’ve committed to plan and take a vacation every summer since 2006 because they energize me, fill me with new ideas, and keep my productivity high.
I’m not the only one who feels these benefits. Prevention Magazine indicates that people who take vacations are happier, healthier, feel younger, and reduce their risk of heart attack by up to fifty percent. If health benefits aren’t enough, consider the rise in productivity. Fast Company reports that companies with unlimited time off are seeing an exponential rise in productivity. The New York Times reports that frequent vacations boost productivity, job performance, and health.
Vacations are critical to your health and to your business. Consider taking steps to plan your next getaway. Here are seven vacation-planning tips that should have you relaxing by the beach in no time.
1. Plan Your Vacation Off-Season
Map out your business cycle and identify patterns of peak and low demand. Then plan your vacation around the time when orders generally decrease. For example, if you’re an accountant then vacationing after tax season would be less disruptive to your business.
2. Automate When Possible
Automation is key for all successful businesses. Every interaction doesn’t necessarily require a person to pick up the phone or type an email. Find areas in your business that you can automate. From e-mail auto responders to CRM solutions there are plenty of tools available.
3. Empower Your Staff
Teach your staff to handle daily operations and make educated decisions throughout the year. This will allow you to focus on critical tasks as well as provide an opportunity for you to take a break when you need to.
If you don’t have staff, consider hiring someone for a short amount of time to perform basic operations such as answering the phone, taking messages or providing quotes.
4. Go Mobile
You might consider mobilizing your business. There are many SaaS (software as a service) companies that provide software that you can access from any computer. There are also cloud storage providers that enable you to access your documents when you need them. This is extremely helpful if you’re a small business owner who doesn’t have staff to support you.
5. Tell Your Customers
Telling your customers that you’ll be away on vacation can be nerve racking. Inform your customers that your staff will provide the same quality of service during your absence. Let them know who will be handling their account while you’re away.
If you don’t have staff, ensure that you factor your planned vacation time into the project timeline when you receive new work. This way you can assure your customers that the project is still on track because you’ve factored in this time in your initial quote.
Remember to remind your customers that you’ll be out of the office before you leave for vacation. Chances are they’ll schedule work in advance of your time off, and will be less likely to call you during your vacation.
6. Prepare for Your Vacation
Block off time in your calendar to complete outstanding items and provide instructions to your staff. Ensure that they have the information that they need in order to complete the tasks you’ve assigned to them.
7. Be Realistic
Ideally, you’ll be able to forget about work during your vacation. However, most small business owners can’t or don’t want to disconnect completely. Be intentional about the amount of time that you spend engaged with work during vacation. A good rule of thumb is to set 1-2 hours aside each day to respond to messages, hold meetings or return calls. Don’t feel compelled to answer all emails. Only respond to critical tasks during this allocated time. If there isn’t anything urgent, take your time back and enjoy your vacation.
8. Prepare for Your Return
Schedule time with your staff to debrief events that happened in your absence. Ignore the many spam e-mail messages that are cluttering your inbox, and focus only on the key tasks that require your attention. Remember to give yourself some grace as you quickly transition back to work.
Unfortunately despite these steps and the data that demonstrates the importance of vacations, it’s likely that small business owners won’t take a break. Approximately 53% of small business owners didn’t take a vacation last year according to Citibank. Apparently knowing what’s good for you and actually doing it are two completely different things. Do what’s right for you and your business. Plan to take a vacation and reap the benefits of some much-needed rest. Where will you go this year?