“Step away from the keyboard and put down the phone!”
It can be difficult for a lot of small business people to take time off. Vacation time might feel like an antiquated concept to you, which is not surprising considering that Americans have been taking off less and less time in recent years. Look at these recent dreary stats from the website TravelForSmallBiz:
- 47 percent of small business owners took no vacation time
- 44 percent did not go with their families on vacation
- And 41 percent hadn’t taken a 7-day vacation in at least two years
This simply will not do.
If the sake of enjoyment is not enough to convince you to take a breather, then think of vacation as an investment: nobody can produce quality work without a bit of rest and relaxation here and there. By allowing yourself to become fully rejuvenated, you can then return to work with a clearer mind and plenty of energy.
There are ways to take a vacation while keeping your business running. Here are my top tips:
Plan ahead: The key to making sure you can relax while you’re away is to make sure you’ve covered all bases before leaving town. If you’re a freelancer, work like mad for a few days and get some projects done early.
If going on vacation would mean leaving your employees short-staffed, then bring in extra people and resources ahead of time so that nobody has to scramble while you’re gone. It might be time to finally hire a temp or a virtual assistant.
Another idea is to schedule a little extra time once you get back, to readjust and catch up on your work before heading back to the office.
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Use technology: Ideally, it would be nice to unplug altogether while on vacation, but sometimes that simply isn’t possible. If answering a few emails or being available for your employees in case of an emergency is what makes your business continue to run smoothly (and makes you feel comfortable) then you shouldn’t hesitate.
Take advantage of the slow season: Owning a small business certainly makes it a little trickier to go on vacation, but it can be easier if you take time off during your slow season. If summer is your peak business season, then don’t go on a summer vacation. Make your own “summer” vacation congruent with your slow season – it will also make your absence easier on your team.
Reminder – people often take time off during the last week of August and late December, so consider using this slower time to your advantage as well.
Combine business and pleasure: In order to save money and not waste time, you can always make it a point to have fun on your business trips. That could mean bringing your family with you or ignoring your jet lag to go sight-seeing. Business trips can be a great way to create a built-in vacation.
Take three day weekends: If you don’t see yourself taking a 10-day vacation, then at least give yourself an extra weekend day semi-regularly this summer. It really is important to stop and reboot.
And so, it is time for me to heed my own advice and logoff.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success.© Steven D. Strauss.
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