Article by Michele DeKinder Smith
Individual business owners must consider their individual needs and desires when planning for vacation. Those needs and desires vary, depending on finances, habits, mindsets and characteristics. However, several considerations should be common to all types of business owners, regardless of situation. This article outlines those considerations and provides tips for handling them thoroughly before a vacation, so that the time away truly provides rest and relaxation.
1. Plan, plan, plan. From scheduling a vacation or retreat for a company’s “quiet” season, to creating a contingency plan if contact from a team member is absolutely critical, entrepreneurs will find that they can more easily enjoy themselves if they have carefully planned every aspect of rest and relaxation as it relates to their business. Decide on availability. If availability is not an option, provide team members with written instructions about exactly what to do during the vacation, and delegate decision-making authority to a specific person. Always provide emergency contact information, just in case. For partial availability, provide contact information only to a limited number of team members, and then check messages or e-mails periodically. Hint: being totally available by cell phone for an entire vacation not only takes away from the ability to relax, but it also takes attention away from traveling companions. Make a vacation a true vacation, and if it’s impossible to keep the phone off all the time, just check it a couple of times per day. If bills are due during a vacation, go online and schedule them to be paid when they’re due. Or, get them ready for mailing and ask a team member to send them on the appropriate day. Similarly, invoices can be made out ahead of time and then sent out on schedule. If winter is the busiest time of year for a business, reduce stress by planning the vacation for the summer. Similarly, if an entrepreneur is expecting a huge shipment of inventory and knows she’ll need to unpack it and get it on the shelves right away, she should arrange to return from her vacation before the shipment arrives or to leave for the vacation well after she’s had the time she needs to get it settled in. Working around such obstacles will allow the entrepreneur to truly relax while she is on vacation. If possible, delay the start of a new project until a few days after returning from a vacation. This provides time to check missed e-mails or phone messages. If that’s not possible, consider making all the preparations before leaving so it is possible to begin immediately upon returning. Ask a team member to help return calls or e-mails so it’s possible to devote more time to the project right away.2. Take a real vacation. It may sound obvious, but many business owners find it difficult to remove themselves from their work, even for a short time. However, an entrepreneur will function at her best when she is revitalized and energized. Here are some tips for getting the most out of vacationing: Keep a notebook handy to jot down ideas that arise during vacation. Once they’re written down, put the notebook away for future use. Use this technique to temporarily “put away” the new ideas without worrying about forgetting them. This way, it’s possible to truly rest – and even if that rest provides excellent brainstorming opportunities, it’s possible to put them away until the vacation is over. Retain a positive mindset when thinking about leaving the business behind. Rather than worrying about whether the team can handle things, think of this as an opportunity for them to take responsibility. Rather than worrying about customers’ reactions to the vacation, consider that they’ll admire the strong and capable team taking care of them during the vacation. Notify customers of the upcoming vacation and take care of any concerns before departing. As mentioned above, limit availability. Spend time reconnecting with traveling companions, enjoying the new scenery, and recharging. Spending an entire vacation checking e-mail and answering the phone does not allow for true rest and relaxation – and it does not reenergize anyone.
3. Make vacationing a priority, and give it as much importance as every other appointment and obligation. Even if it is not feasible to take several weeks off, or to travel to a faraway location, everyone needs time off – even if it is one day per week. Here are some tips for ensuring that time: Schedule “self-time” into the calendar. Literally. Schedule a lunch out with a friend, a pedicure, or a walk on a favorite trail once or twice a week. Make these appointments and stick to them. Even an hour-long break from work and all that comes with it can be refreshing enough to boost productivity and spirits for the rest of the day or week. If longer vacations aren’t possible, these shorter appointments will suffice – but try to plan for a longer vacation at some point in the future, and then look forward to it. Fit vacations in with longer-term plans and treat them as important as semi-annual business planning retreats or annual workshops. If something comes up and makes the vacation impossible, be sure to re-schedule the vacation immediately. Don’t cancel reservations – reschedule them. Putting off a vacation indefinitely makes it less likely to happen. If a traditional vacation isn’t possible because of time or money constraints, plan a mini vacation somewhere close by to your home or business. It’s inexpensive, requires less planning, and you can vacation for only a day or two if necessary.
Vacations don’t have to be long, far away, or expensive. But they do have to be. Rest and relaxation provide hard-working entrepreneurs with the time they need to come back to work feeling refreshed and ready to dive back in.
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About the Author
Michele DeKinder-Smith is the founder of Jane out of the Box, an online resource dedicated to the women entrepreneur community. Discover more incredibly useful information for running a small business by taking the FREE Jane Types Assessment at Jane out of the Box. Offering networking and marketing opportunities, key resources and mentorship from successful women in business, Jane Out of the Box is online at http://www.janeoutofthebox.com.