The Small Business Owner's Guide to Taking a Vacation

As a small business owner you probably find it hard to justify taking a vacation. But owning a small business takes its toll on even the strongest person, so making time to relax is not just important, it’s essential.

And taking that time away from your business can be profitable. Without the pressure of the day-to-day work you can take time to consider new directions to take your business or new initiatives you can adopt.

Just take a look at Andy Wilson, founder of the Boston Duck Tours, a multi-million dollar company which was conceived of during a vacation in Memphis where he saw a bus travelling over land and water.

9 Tips to Taking a Vacation

You may feel that you business is going to fail if you take time away from it, but by planning ahead you can make sure you get the most out of your time away. 

1. Predict Slow Times

Look at your sales for the last year and see when your quiet times are, or if you are a start-up look at industry spending trends. Plan trips around the quiet times, and when you have peers or employees available to support you.

2. Learn to Delegate, and Delegate Smarter

If you have a team around you; use them. When you delegate a task, document it. By taking time to write instructions, your team will have notes to refer to and will not need to call you on vacation.

3. Empower your Team Year-Round

Train your team ahead of time; don’t leave it to the last minute. By teaching your employees how to handle certain operations, long before you go on vacation, you’ll feel more comfortable knowing that they can handle the tasks while you’re away. 

4. Appoint a Deputy

Although it is important to share-out responsibilities among your team of employees, it is also important to appoint a deputy, who your employees can turn to for decisions. This will mean you will only be contacted in an emergency. 

If you don’t have a team around you, look at using trusted peers to deal with any emergencies in your absence.

5. Notify Customers

Start notifying your clients of your vacation dates as soon as you can. This will give them an opportunity to schedule appointments accordingly and understand who they will be able to turn to, in your absence.

Try to notify every client individually at first, then add a note to your email signalling the dates you will be away.

6. Clear your Schedule Early

Aim to finish all projects two days before you go on vacation. This will give you some time to play with if you run over and will give you time to check your arrangements for cover and checking your clients are ok. 

If it looks as if you will not have time to finish a project, contact your client as soon as possible in order to renegotiate the due date. The more notice you provide, the more likely they will be open to negotiations.

7. Plan Ahead when Pitching New Business

Make it clear when pitching to new clients that you have commitments and are unable to take on new work until after a set date. Your client will appreciate your honesty and you’ll avoid the stress of trying to squeeze one last project in, before you take off on vacation. 

8. Turn on your Out of Office

Do your last minute checks: email out-of-office, a message on your voicemail, a message on your social media, and a note on your website. In each notification encourage clients to contact your team (if you have one) and inform them when you will return from vacation.

9. Don’t Check–In too Often

Make a decision before you go if you are going to check your email and voicemail while you are away. If you are going to check-in, decide a time and amount of time you will do it. Once you are on vacation, make sure you stick to those times. There’s no use returning from a vacation you spent working, it won’t be too refreshing.