Every year I struggle with the idea of taking a vacation. How the heck am I going to have time for that with all the work I have? Obviously, I’m not alone. A survey by American Express OPEN in their Spring 2013 Small Business Monitor showed that fewer than half of small business owners, about 49 percent, plan to take a week-long vacation this year. That’s down from a high of 67 percent in 2006 and 54 percent in 2012.
Business owners know they should take a vacation, but they are worried that they will miss out on a sale or that they will lose a customer because they are not around to meet their demands. The key is to carefully plan out how you will take a worry-free vacation. Here are some things to consider:
Choose your vacation dates carefully. You know your business better than anyone else. Whenever possible, plan your trip during a down time. As a CPA, I obviously am not going to plan a vacation in March or April. A florist isn’t taking a vacation in February, and a toy store isn’t closing in December.
Don’t leave major projects pending. Finish as many projects as possible before you leave, and don’t start anything major until after you return. You will be better rested and can start fresh when you come back.
Notify your best customers in advance. Make sure they are aware that you will be gone and let them know who they should call with an unexpected problem. Don’t tell them you are checking your email daily or that you check messages once a day. Let your staff know if there are certain clients you are willing to hear from during your break.
Be prepared to handle problems remotely if truly necessary. Bring your laptop or iPad, or make arrangements to use the business resources at your hotel. Be sure you can use a program like GoToMyPC to access files on your desktop.
Schedule small blocks of time in advance if you must do some work. Remember, the goal of the vacation is to rest and recharge your battery. But if you must do some work, schedule it. Don’t do more than absolutely necessary.
Taking a break from your business can seem risky when you are busy. But don’t underestimate the benefit you and your business will receive from that break.