As an independent micro business owner, I relish holidays. However, I’m also a little fearful of them.
This may sound odd. How could one be afraid of taking time off to recharge the batteries? And, certainly, if you hold a salaried position where the paycheck will appear in your bank account each month regardless of whether or not you dip into your holiday fund, the word “fearful” simply doesn’t enter the mind come holiday time.
But as a freelancer or small business owner, the thought of taking time away from paid work can be incredibly nerve-wracking. What if every client disappears during the break? What if you forget to tell a key partner or customer that you’ll be unavailable for a week? Will they get fed up and go elsewhere?
I guess the feeling can be most accurately compared to that experienced by a sportsperson whose time away from the game due to injury is plagued with thoughts of someone far more competent taking their place.
Thankfully, I’ve been in this game long enough to know that it doesn’t have to be this way. We all need holidays, be they far-flung getaways or chances to spend quality time doing the timeless things you love with those closest to you.
So, today, I’d like to offer three tips for keeping your small business running while on holiday. I’m going to assume (unlike me) you have a member or staff or two on board who will be handed the reins during your time away.
1. Prepare in advance
Whenever I’m due to take some time off – even if it’s just a few days – I’ll make sure I let all of my clients and partners know in good time.
Two or three weeks before my date of departure, I’ll either send them an email, instant message or pick up the phone to inform them that I’ll be heading off. I let them know when I’m going, where I’m going, the exact duration and whether or not I’ll be contactable. Lastly, I’ll explain exactly what work will be carried out in the run-up to the holiday.
This should never backfire on you. Unless someone happens to be particularly unreasonable, your clients will wish you well on your travels and thank you for keeping them updated. Providing they know the dates and have been given reassurance that it’s business as usual before and after, they’ll be happy.
2. Prepare the staff
While you’re away, someone else needs to be in charge, therefore the point at which you hand over the reins to your trusted employee is a very important one in your holiday preparations.
Empower them to make decisions (within reason) on your behalf. Tell them you have full confidence in them, but also provide a contact number should they need you in the event of an emergency.
Trust your staff and show them the respect they deserve, and you’ll leave your business in the very best of hands.
3. Set rules for yourself
You may have decided that you’ll need to undertake a few minor work-related tasks while away. That’s fine, but make sure you do so within some defined parameters.
Take just one device away with you (a tablet rather than a laptop might be better suited these days), and promise that you’ll only ever get work done during strict, set times.
Lastly, don’t break your own rules!
Still afraid to go away? You shouldn’t be. If you follow my tried-and-tested pre-holiday techniques above, your business should be absolutely fine – it’s as simple as that.
You need a holiday; don’t let your business get in the way.