When was the last time you took a vacation from small business? Or are you in the 24 percent of small business owners who haven't taken any time off? U.S. culture places great emphasis on being hard workers, but people need time to relax and forget about work.
Some 64 percent of Americans don't think they're going to take a vacation, which contributes to many problems such as a lack of engagement with their work. Small business owners understandably feel the need to be on hand and put as much time as possible into making their company a success, but a vacation actually helps you achieve this goal.
Why Vacations Are Important for Small Business Owners
You get a big boost in productivity when you take a week or two off, with an 82 percent performance jump. Your energy levels and motivation will be much better once you give your brain some time to turn off and recharge. Another area where small business owners suffer the most is stress, which contributes to many health problems. You have a hard time moving away from a high-stress environment if you always feel like another deadline is around the corner. A vacation resets this mindset and gives you a better perspective on where the company is going as well as opportunities you may have overlooked because you are caught up in day-to-day needs.
How to Keep Your Business Running During a Vacation
Your small business is your life's work, so it's not surprising that 66 percent of business owners worry when they're on vacation. Everything can go smoothly even when you're not at the helm, but you need to put everything in place well before you make travel arrangements.
The biggest decision you have is who will act as the manager when you're not available. If you already have a strong management team in place that you trust, you're halfway to enjoying your vacation. Otherwise, look at your current employees for people with a deep understanding of your operations and a strong leadership streak. You also have to feel confident about delegating your role to this person or team, so take plenty of time when you make this decision.
During this process, you also want to document everything you do to keep the business running. Procedures that are second nature to you may be challenging for another person to pick up. Create a manual that starts from square one and provides as much information as possible for your manager selection. They need to know what you normally do as the owner and what every other employee's role is so they can determine whether everything is going well.
Do you have an infrastructure that's capable of letting you check in from remote locations? Cloud-based software offers you a way to communicate with your company when you have access to the internet. If you don't have a good configuration for your vacation needs, set up the applications necessary several months in advance. That's enough time for thorough testing, training and implementation for basic communication tools.
Double-check essential systems and confirm that you have the right permissions to access administration-level accounts even when you're off site. Some solutions use geolocation services as one way of authenticating users, so you don't want to end up a thousand miles away with a pressing need to open up your customer relationship management tool or administrative backend.
On your first few vacations — this is not a one-and-done process! — schedule regular check-ins with your manager so you have the reassurance that everything is going well at your home base. As you gain confidence in your team, you can start disconnecting completely or traveling to locations with limited internet access. Don't spend your vacation working on business tasks. That negates the benefits that you should get out of going on a trip.
Short- and Long-term Vacation Ideas
Here are a few mini vacation ideas and longer-term options to get you started:
- Go to a B&B in your city and take in local attractions that you haven't had the chance to explore.
- Take a tent to a campsite at nearby national parks or other nature areas to force yourself to disconnect as much as possible. The limited internet signal can be helpful for small business owners that find themselves working too much during vacation.
- Book two weeks in a new country. Not only do you get to explore a culture that you're not familiar with, but the fresh perspective can also generate a lot of new ideas for your company.
- Take a day trip to a nearby city and go full tourist. Check out the hot spots, sample the local food and bring souvenirs back for your team.
- Rent a vacation home at the beach or another location where you'll spend a lot of time outdoors. Enjoy a relaxed pace of life for a week and wake up every morning with the smell and sound of the sea.
Your small business suffers when you don't go on vacation. It's hard to delegate your tasks and trust that everything will be fine while you're gone, but the business benefits are hard to argue against. It's time to get ready for vacation.
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