As summer rolls around, small business owners often struggle with a major dilemma: Go on vacation with the family, or stay home to work on the company? The most common answer is to stay home, focus on the business and worry about taking vacation some other time.
According to a recent survey, only about 55 percent of small business owners take a vacation every year. Most of those vacations will last no longer than a week, and only 15 percent of SMB owners will completely disconnect from their business during that time. Moreover, less than half of surveyed business owners consider vacation a priority.
Yet, for you and your employees, getting away from work helps alleviate stress, which is crucial to mental and physical health. Stress has been shown to weaken the body’s immune system, disrupt sleep cycles, and even alter the genetic material in our cells. Moreover, unending stress leads to burnout, which can drastically reduce productivity and actually alter cognitive skills.
Clearly, taking vacation from work is vital for small business owners. But logistically, how can you step away and hope the shop doesn’t burn down? Depending on the size of your business, you may have to work a bit while you’re on holiday. The secret to traveling while running your small business is balancing out work and fun.
Plan the Details of Your Trip
Just because you’re going on vacation doesn’t mean the business will stop operating. You and your team will still have deadlines, to-do lists, client calls and other matters to attend to. As you are booking your tickets and packing up for your holiday, consider your workload during the days you will be gone.
As best you can, rearrange your schedule so any meetings and phone calls can happen either before or after your vacation. Prioritize your task list, and knock out the most important items before you leave. Anything else left can either be handled while you’re away or, ideally, when you get back.
If You Must Work, Create a Schedule
There’s a strong possibility you will have to do a bit of work while you’re on vacation. If so, create a schedule for it, and stick to it. Maybe you wake up an hour before the family every day and take care of your task list. Or, you know a certain client will want to talk for an hour one afternoon. Dedicate that time to work — and leave the rest of the day for fun and relaxation.
Trying to mix work and play too much during vacation can make you even more stressed — the exact opposite of what you need. If you are going on a vacation for a week or more, perhaps the best way to handle work while you’re away is to dedicate one day to it. Make plans for the family to have a fun day without you so you can spend this one day on work. Spending that day by the ocean or pool while fielding calls and completing tasks can make the workday go by that much faster.
Whichever kind of schedule you choose for traveling while running your small business, stick to it. Your psyche and your family will thank you.
Prepare for the Worst
Depending on where you go on vacation, there may be any number of issues that crop up. Maybe your flight gets delayed; perhaps the resort WiFi is slow. Have backup plans so the times you have scheduled to be productive aren’t wasted. Otherwise, you may find yourself working when you said you wouldn’t be.
Moreover, there’s a good chance you will get calls from your team, saying this client needs to talk immediately or that deadline needs to be pushed up. Learn to say “no.” While some emergencies need to be handled specifically by you in a timely manner, others can be handled by your team — or can wait. Agreeing to every request can quickly turn your trip from a relaxing vacation to just telecommuting with new scenery.
Give Your Team a Heads Up
Your employees should be well aware you’re going on vacation. Blindsiding them is rarely a good idea. Give them the dates of when you will be gone, and what you expect of them while you’re away. Also give them a number to reach you in case of an absolute emergency, but let them know it should only be used if no one else can solve the problem at hand (and the problem is urgent).
As part of your instructions to your team, let them know when you will be readily available to help them. This could be the hours every day or the one day during vacation you’ve set aside to work. During this time, issues that aren’t quite emergencies can be addressed, but again, only if no one else can take care of it.
Use Your Vacation to Relax and Unwind
A vacation should be just that: A vacation. As best as you can, you should take this time to step away from the company and focus on your well-being and spending time with your family. You should be able to trust your managers and employees to hold down the fort while you’re away. When you’re able to take a true holiday, you’re also able to come back to work afterwards with renewed energy and a fresh mind.
One of the best ways to prepare for traveling while running your small business is to know you don’t have to worry about many of the day-to-day operations for your business. Company.com offers a wide range of small business services, from tech support to accounting, that can alleviate much of your workload and let you focus on the bigger picture — whether that’s growing your business or finally taking that long-awaited vacation.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you and to schedule a free demo.