According to a recent survey, 49% of small business owners planned to spend less than three days away from work during the holiday season. When small business owners manage to take time away from their business, only 14% completely unplug while on vacation. This is in comparison to 54% of American workers who can totally checkout while on holiday.
With so many responsibilities to take care of, it’s little wonder that small business owners find it difficult to take vacations. A planned break is meant to help business owners relax, but that’s rarely the case since time away can turn into a worry-filled period. The range of issues that small business owners are concerned about while on vacation may seem endless. The nagging feeling about whether your business will be in the same condition as you left it is never far from your mind.
With the obvious advantages of a well-earned break, there’s no need to sell small business owners on the benefits of vacations. Two-thirds of survey respondents believed that vacations have a positive impact on their business including better:
However, only 25% of those same respondents are able to have a worry-free holiday. Taking a well-deserved break from your small business is one of the most important things you can do.
The following tips will help to keep your small business running smoothly while you enjoy a worry-free vacation.
1. Plan for a worry-free vacation.
The earlier you start to plan for the time away from your business, the higher the likelihood that you’ll enjoy a worry-free vacation. Ideally, you should start planning for your vacation a couple of months before you’re scheduled to take time off. Create a plan of the tasks that need to be completed before you go away. If necessary, put in some extra hours to finish as many projects as possible before you go on your break. Avoid scheduling any product or service launches while you’re away.
Create a plan around who will be responsible for your business when you’re on vacation. Also, think about whether you’ll be letting your customers know that you’re on vacation. If you have implemented the right systems in your small business, your customers shouldn’t be able to tell whether you’re on vacation or not. However, you may still want to extend the courtesy of letting them know that you won’t be around for a given period.
2. Automate as much of your business as possible.
Technology now makes it easier to automate different aspects of your business. Take away the manual aspect from as many business functions as possible to increase the odds of a worry-free vacation.
Here are some business processes you should automate:
- Appointment scheduling – remember to block out your calendar for your vacation time, so customers don’t accidentally book appointments while you’re away.
- Customer support – make it easy for your customers to find answers to their questions about your practices and policies. Turn questions into an FAQ page on your website to reduce the number of business queries.
- Recurring payments – if your small business provides goods or services that require repeat payments, use a platform that allows you to send recurring invoices.
- Order processing – it’s a good idea to test this automation vigorously to ensure that important information and instructions are provided when customers order from your business.
3. Identify who’s in charge.
You should have identified who will be in charge of your business during the vacation planning phase. The obvious choice would be an assistant or business manager. Your business manager should already be familiar with how your business operates, so there won’t be too much of a learning curve when handing over the reins. Allowing a current manager to handle your small business when you’re on vacation will reduce team friction. This is because your team are already used to being managed by the same person that you have given the extra responsibilities too.
If you’re a small business owner without a manager that you can hand over to, you’ll need to include hiring an assistant into your vacation plan. If you’ve dealt with major projects and have only run-of-the-mill tasks to take care of while you’re away, a competent new assistant should be able to cope in your absence. However, it would be better if you hired your assistant as far in advance as possible to give them the best chance of learning what’s necessary to operate your business in your absence.
Hiring at anytime can be daunting, but taking on someone knowing that your business will be in their hands when you’re away can cause anxiety. So, make the hiring process as practical as possible by giving test questions and projects similar to what will be expected when you’re on vacation.
4. Train your managers.
When you run a business with a team, delegation should already be part of your day-to-day practice. If you have a hard time delegating, planning for your vacation is the ideal time to start. Start giving your managers (or the person you’ve identified to step into your shoes when you’re away) more responsibility. It’s advisable to add additional tasks on a piecemeal basis, so they don’t feel overwhelmed.
In order to get your replacement ready to operate your small business in your absence, provide them with a list of all the necessary information and procedures.
Implement the following with your stand-in before you go on vacation:
- Emergency procedures – define what counts as an emergency and when you should be contacted. Spell out your expectations of what you consider to be urgent and can only be dealt with by you.
- Arrange a time to check-in – this catch-up could be a quick 30-minute call once a week to have a chat about how things are going. Unless there are red flags, stick to the allocated time. This brief meeting will give you the assurance that your business is in good hands.
- Have a vacation tryout – step-away from your business for a few days before your vacation to allow your stand-in to experience being in charge. This will provide a good opportunity to troubleshoot unexpected issues.
5. Prepare detailed documents.
Supplement training with clear and detailed processes for everything that needs to be done when you’re away. It’s best to reduce the guesswork when you’re on vacation. You should take time to record and streamline your processes so that they will be easy to follow.
Make your processes as succinct as possible and include a short explanation about why this process is done and the impact it has on different parts of your business. You may find that it can be difficult to account for every single eventuality. It’s the nature of business that the unexpected happens sometimes. Plan for these eventualities in your processes by stating when your assistant or manager can use their expertise and experience to make decisions. This approach helps to build trust between you and the person you’re leaving in charge.
6. Keep your business with you.
Having a worry-free vacation can mean different things to different business owners. While it may mean completely switching off and having no contact with their business for some, others will get peace of mind from knowing they can check-in on their business no matter where they are.
If you fall into the latter category, there’s never been a better time to have a vacation since advances in technology have made it possible to take your business everywhere you go. Taking a break no longer means leaving your business at the mercy of people you may not be 100% comfortable with.
Workforce management is one of the small business areas you can keep an eye on and control from the comfort of your vacation. Without the effective organization of your team, it’s very unlikely that you’ll have a business when you return from your break.
Deputy on mobile allows you to manage your team from the convenience of your mobile device. You can oversee your workforce while on vacation without having to use your laptop. If you’re relaxing by the pool and want the assurance that your team is at the right place at the right time, simply log in to your Deputy account from your device to put an end to any worries that might crop up. Deputy mobile is compatible with most devices and operating systems including:
The hope is that everything will go as planned while you’re on vacation. However, with a mobile workforce management app to supervise your team, there’s no need to worry about being helpless to take action if the unexpected happens. You can do the following on Deputy’s mobile app if absolutely necessary while on vacation:
- Post to News Feed
- Add and approve timesheets
- Create and assign tasks
- Find replacements
You can increase your chances of having a worry-free vacation by taking every opportunity to keep tabs on your small business while you’re away.
7. Get ready to make the most of your time away.
Stepping away from your business to go on vacation can understandably be filled with angst. If you’ve taken the time to:
- Automate as much as possible
- Leave a competent person that you trust in charge
- Use mobile apps to monitor your business
There’s only one thing left for you to do. That’s to enjoy yourself! There’s no reason to have a worry-filled vacation when you have back-up apps, like Deputy mobile, that allow you to tackle any major issues in the unlikely event that something goes wrong.
It takes a mindset shift to wind down and enjoy the fruits of what you’ve been building. Your vacation is the reward for all the hard work and the long hours that you’ve invested in your business. It’s time to show your team that you trust them.
The process of preparing and planning for a worry-free vacation helps to push your business into a new phase. Many small business owners dream of experiencing freedom while running a profitable business. Handing over the reins (even if for a few weeks) will show you that it’s possible to step away from your business for longer periods without things falling apart.
Make a conscious effort to enjoy your vacation. Even if things don’t go as planned, use this as a learning opportunity to fix the relevant systems before you go on your next vacation. Your business success and your health and well-being depend on you having worry-free breaks. The key is to plan and discipline yourself to check-in at certain periods to make sure everything is ticking over nicely while enjoying your break.