Ask Dr. Deborah | How do you plan vacations as a self-employed business owner?
Dear Dr. Deborah,
I started my own business two years ago and I absolutely love it. However, since day one it feels like I’ve been in a marathon. I make sure I have some personal time, but I haven’t taken a real vacation since launching. I’m at a point where I really need to take some time off. How do I plan for a vacation as a self-employed business owner?
It’s wonderful to hear that you love what you do! I think a lot of business owners share your challenge however, when it comes to balancing playtime with worktime. It can be tricky to schedule a vacation when you are the sole employee.
Still, it is important to “surge and recover!” A proverb by James Howell back in 1659 read, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” In essence – without time off from work, a person becomes both bored and boring. It can also lead to business burnout – and that would be a shame particularly where you love what you do.
So, what to do? Let’s start with some basic questions:
- What are the essential day-to-day activities?
- What are weekly activities?
- What can be rescheduled beyond the number of days that you plan to be away?
By answering the above questions, you will identify the specific tasks that need to be done on the days that you plan to be away. Once you identify the tasks, consider the level of skills needed to perform them. If the tasks are financial in nature, how about asking your bookkeeper to fill in? If the tasks are administrative, consider a virtual assistant.
For more complex tasks where you want to have confidence that things will be handled a certain way, consider training a virtual assistant ahead of time or a local independent contractor. Having this person in place and trained ahead of time provides you with peace of mind, which is an essential element if you’re going to be able to relax while you’re away.
Once you have the routine tasks taken care of, be sure to let people know that you’ll be unavailable for a period of time. Depending upon the nature of your business, you can make this part of a marketing strategy by sharing where you’re going and inviting customers to check out your Facebook page or Instagram for peeks into your travel adventures.
If business doesn’t mix so well with pleasure, the professional voicemail and out-of-office email reply will suffice. You may also want to include a contact person in case a customer has an emergency situation. Again, it depends upon the nature of your business.
In summary, by breaking down your operation into these essential components, you will not only be able to enjoy your vacation, but you’ll have an increased capacity for delegating that can lead to venture growth down the road as well.
Happy vacation planning ahead!!!