Do you worry that your business would collapse without constant supervision? If so, you’re not alone. A recent report by Funding Circle found that just 49 percent of small businesses were prepared to take more than three days off during major holidays.
Chances are, you look forward to and dread holidays with equal measure. You need some rest and relaxation, but are terrified of taking your hands off the reins, even for a few days, in case it has a knock-on effect on your business. But if you don’t take breaks, you risk becoming overwhelmed and facing a burnout.
You don’t need to sacrifice your health and happiness in order to keep your business running. In this post, we’ll take a look at how you can keep your business functioning smoothly while you’re on holiday. If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to enjoy an uninterrupted break and relax completely.
1. Plan early
Start planning your trip well in advance. For example, if you start planning for your leave three months in advance, you’ll give yourself ample time to make arrangements and schedule your projects accordingly. Make sure you don’t plan any significant work activity just before or after your break. You can let your clients know you plan to take a break and for how long you’ll be away. If you get all important tasks and projects out of the way, you can enjoy your time off with a clear conscience.
2. Leave someone in charge
As a business owner and entrepreneur, you’re a leader and are responsible for the direction your business takes. When you’re absent, your team needs another leader to follow. This leader will ensure all projects are still on track and all employees are performing well. It’s not easy to delegate responsibility for your business to someone else, but it’s a good idea to do so if you want to maintain order and productivity. Without a strong leader, your business will slow down due to the lack of management. Consider your team carefully and pick someone who communicates well and gets along well with all team members.
It’s a good idea to do this even if you only have a handful of employees. With a small, loyal team, you’re sure to find someone to step up. However, if you’re working alone, this obviously isn’t an option! In which case, you may need to look at hiring a freelancer…
3. Take on a freelancer
If you need extra hands on deck, you can always hire a freelancer to temporarily join your team in your absence. This is particularly useful if you plan to be away for several weeks at a time. You can hire freelancers for virtually any industry, either through a recruitment agency, specialist freelance hiring websites such as Upwork or Freelancer.com, or through personal recommendation. Always check their previous work and take up references before hiring anyone, even for a short length of time, and draw up a contract that clearly lays out what you’re expecting of them, and the terms and conditions of the job.
4. Automate what you can
Thanks to modern technology, you can automate a lot of your business so that it runs smoothly for a couple of weeks without your presence required. Here’s what you can automate with the help of different software programs:
Content marketing: It’s important to maintain a steady flow of content marketing if you want to be successful with your marketing campaigns. If your website is created in WordPress or another CMS, you should have the option to schedule posts according to your preference so you don’t have to post them manually every time. For social media, apps like Buffer and Hootsuite will allow you to schedule posts weeks in advance. CoSchedule is another extremely useful tool for planning and scheduling content marketing campaigns. You’ll find a really useful article on some of the best productivity apps around here.
Ads: Google AdWords, Facebook advertising, and other such paid advertising platforms already have some automation tools present. You can set a cap to the number of clicks, schedule reports, and set other such reminders so your ad campaigns run smoothly while you’re away.
Business communications: You can set automatic responses to your business emails to ensure your contacts have some form of reply or provide an emergency contact number if strictly necessary.
Not everything can be automated or deferred, especially if you don’t have a big enough team to support all business processes without your active participation. In such cases, outsourcing can be a lifesaver. For example, if you handle day-to-day accounts and inventory, you can hire a third-party accounting establishment to handle the task while you’re away on your trip. Similarly, if you handle primary communications with your customers, you can hire a third party customer service company to handle the process in your absence.
While outsourcing can be a little expensive, it can help you maintain productivity and ensure your customers get the level of service they’re accustomed to. Third party companies can provide a wide array of services at the same time so you can hire them to handle a number of different jobs.
6. Switch off your phone
Business owners are often tempted to keep checking their emails and messages in order to keep an eye on their business. This only causes more anxiety and stress and can interrupt your peace and joy during the vacation. The best way to avoid this is to switch off your phone completely or set an automatic vacation response on your emails. That way you can focus completely on your break and let the business run on its own.
Rest and relaxation will help you retain your physical and mental health. A complete break from work will make you more productive and that will have a positive impact on your business. With the right planning and tools, you can keep your business running even as you sunbathe on some exotic beach.
So off you go—and have a great holiday. You deserve it!
Ashley Andrews is an Inbound Marketing Strategist at Activia Training, a UK-based training provider specializing in improving delegates' workplace performance in business skills, management development, and IT applications. Ashley is passionate about sales and management issues, and regularly blogs about these—and many other topics—on the Activia blog.