How do I take a vacation when I am essentially a one-person operation?
I think a vacation would really help re-energize me, but I can never seem to completely check out. For quite some time, I have always had jobs where I have flexibility, but need to be tuned in all the time. It definitely gets draining. Now that I have my own business, it is even harder to get a break. How have others handled this challenge?
Yes, vacation can be a challenge! Essentially here are some of the things I have done before I had a team that might be options for you...
If you can still be accessible but want to limit interactions, let your customers know you will be away and what the best way to reach you in an emergency might be. E.g. I will be checking emails once a day from 9-10am. Alternatively I have a call answer service set up, so if people call, they get a person who then sends me an email and I can decide whether to call back.
If you want to be off the grid then realistically you need to do as much prep as possible before hand with your clients so they know you will be gone, and you may wish to have someone as a 'touchpoint' in your absence. In the past I have asked an associate to act as an 'on call' person who can take messages from the answer service. They may not be able to answer all the questions, but often people just want to know that their need has been registered and can answer basic questions or at least relay when I will be back and able to take care of anything. In the early days too I found it easier to take a number of shorter breaks more frequently than a long vacation, but that doesn't have the same 'shut off factor' ... that's definitely a personal call.
Good luck and I hope you get a chance to recharge, vacation is definitely important!
I manage this issue by doing three simple things:
1. Plan my holidays and ensure I do not book myself during those days - and if possible at least couple of days before and after - This ensures I do not commit to deliverables which I know I can not deliver.
2. I set expectations. All my clients so far have understood that we are not a big company and when you work with small business, you have to work with people not robots. Setting expectations help them plan their side of things well and avoid getting into situations when they expect service to be delivered during my unavailability.
3. I keep phone switched on. Yes, you read it right. When a customer needs to contact me when I am on holiday, worst I can do is switch off and disappear. I take their calls and let them know that I am not available and can I do it after my return. So far 100% of my clients have accepted this.
Remember, for a small business, relationship is key and communication lines need to be maintained. If you still have clients who do not accept your absence then probably you have to choose your client wisely and avoid over-committing.
Hope this helps!
There are some people who are energized by working and running their own business, who honestly probably don't have to take time off -- other than for other family reasons.
It sounds like you are not that way, which means there are only 3 logical ways to make it happen. 1. Build a business that can somehow run without you (e.g. subscription businesses, etc.), 2. Hire someone who you are comfortable to run it when you are not there, 3. Just close down for that time. These or some variations or combination of these are really the only ways. If none of that works, it could be you were not cut out to own your own business.
Another point... it is my experience that if you need and want to truly re-energize, it requires at least 2 weeks with virtually no work taking place. Ideally it it 3+ weeks. Just going somewhere else but trying to keep the business running, but from a different location, can just add more stress.
In the end you just need to decide and commit.
Do the planning, prepare everyone involved, put contingencies in place, and then just go.
You're over thinking it. What else do you need?
Hi Jeff, you haven't mentioned what kind of business you run, hence it is a bit difficult to answer your question specifically. However, from a general point of view, assess if you can stop your operations for a while without impacting clientele. You may also want to assess how long you can afford to stay under the shade. Then again, if your business can afford a backup, ensure that your backup is well trained and quite capable of looking after your interests in your absence. In all cases (considering the fact that you are a one-person business), be prepared to start from the beginning again - building relations and rekindling earlier ones. But, but.... the best advice I could give you is to treat your business as a paid vacation in itself. It will not only help you stay refreshed everyday, but will also infuse new ideas and new vigor in your business on a daily basis - your clients will have only good words for you.
Great question. The way I've done it was to make sure that I set a time period aside for vacation. You have to treat it like doing work for a client. Make sure that everyone knows you'll be on vacation but in case of an extreme emergency have you're cell phone or other contact info available to them. If you don't want to be bothered what I did was tell everyone to send an email and I reviewed them every day. This provides the client with a security blanket and let's them know you care about them.
Never lost a client because I went on vacation.
Congrats for recognizing that you have the power to build a business that supports you and your needs. This is your opportunity to free up your time on a daily basis, not just vacation, my friend.
Every solo entrepreneur needs an outsourcing plan, i.e. A summary of what work gets done on a daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly basis and then matching the right resource, tool or virtual assistant, to complete that task.
Now, I can create a plan for you, trouble is, can you follow it? The most challenging part is being able to LET GO and allow your team to manage while you are away.
Here are my best recommendations for getting started.
1. Track what you do now. A tool like Rescue time will let you set your current goals and see how well you actually meet them. You might think you spend 2 hours writing but RT will give you the hard facts.
2. Delegate low risk, time consuming tasks to remote help. Jeff, you didn't share your work but I'll bet there's a bit of 'grunt work' included. That's what you want to outsource first.
3. Create a network. No one is an island. Reach out to your trusted network and ask them to share/upcycle their content that's relevant to your audience. Want a 4 weeek vacation but blog 3 x a week? Either hire someone to pre-write your copy or reach out to your network to recycle their content.
Truly if you're asking this question, you are ready for remote help. Your new teammate doesn't have to be in the same town or even time zone to help you grow your biz.
Delegating and hiring are tough when you're new. The key is to be the leader. You don't have to know the answers but you do have to know what you want, why and when.
From a business continuity point of view you always should have a back up plan to keep the business running, because you can get sick, have emergencies and even need to take vacation.
One way to solve this is to at the first time split your vacation in shorter periods and then align with holidays and then get one day or two more and keep the business down for 2 days and then during the year you would take several small vacation periods.
The best solution should be have a temporary work to help you during the vacations and you plan vacations to the period with lower business movement.
Regards & Success
I think you've probably had enough advice already but I agree with Mike. You need to plan ahead and block time in your 2016/17 calendar so you can let people know you will be away. Put your out of office on and GO. As others have said it is hard to give 100% accurate advice without knowing more about your business but for me you wont loose current clients if you plan and communicate and I am sure it would be statistically insignificant if you missed out on a new opportunity (i.e. highly unlikely to happen) . Couple of things worry me - one is that you have externalised your need for a break so you need one NOW and secondly if you don't take care of yourself in the short to medium term then forced time off for extended illness will get you into greater trouble.
Once you have dates and plans for time off it will help your mental attitude a little as you have something to look forward to and to work towards. To get you through to that time off I suggest you download the headspace app (one with full orange circle as logo) and go through their 10 minute sessions (even you can find 10 minutes). It will help your wellbeing, sleep etc. enormously and hopefully help you through this tough period.
That is a great question. In Stephen Covey's book "7 Habits of Highly Effective People", number 7 is sharpen the saw. You can't be at your best when you are running on fumes. Also, I think most business owners find themselves working in the business vs working on the business which becomes tiring and ultimately doesn't lead to the best results. It is vital to take time (in addition to some vacation time) to step away from your business and think strategically about your vision, mission, along with the most effective ways to grow your business. Otherwise you get sucked into the day to day and don't ever get to driving the bigger initiatives. Here is a post that I thought might be helpful: "Need A Vacation? Here’s How To Get One As A Small Business Owner" http://www.hatchbuck.com/blog/small-business-owner-vacation/
Hi, Jeff. Depending on the type of business you have, you could just let your clients know that you'll be away for a couple of weeks, and leave them a way to get in touch with you if there is an emergency. Make sure they also know that you may not be able to respond to them as quickly as you normally would during that time, so if you can't get back to them right away they won't feel like you're ignoring them. They'll know that you simply may not have access to be able to get back to them at that time.
If you can, see if there is anyone you can show the basics to, and have them fill in for you, and keep an eye on things, while you're away. You can have them deal with your clients while you're away, and if anything major comes up that person can contact you in order to handle the problem. Doing that would put an extra buffer in place, so you'd know that you are only being contacted if there is an extreme emergency.
I hope this helps. Everyone needs to take off and have a real vacation every now and then. I hope you get yours!
That's always tricky when you are the chief cook and bottle washer but with a little planning it's possible. I'd suggest setting aside the time you would like to go on vacation and schedule it like a job. That way the time is protected. Work out how much revenue you think you could make in that time period and try to ramp up additional revenue in the weeks or months leading up to it. That way, you would have already put in the work and would feel less uneasy about taking time off. Notifying any regular customers via email or mobile messages will also go a long way in making sure the clients are still there when you get back.
Everyone here has said exactly what I was going to say: tell your clients you'll be away, set limits, etc. When DH and I go away, he knows the exact point where I finally relax, and comments on it. (Our fave vacation destination is a 4-5 hour drive.) Clients with an active project (a brochure going on press) know how to get in touch with me; those are the ONLY people with my cell phone number, and I trust them not to call me unless something catches fire. LOL
Without time off you won't be able to run your business effectively. Take time off, let the nagging voice in your head stop talking, take some long walks. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
That is tough answer, because I been in that same position for many year forgot what Vacation means, and I really need it for that same reason to re energize my being. But one approach just pick a spot that has a event taken place one related to your business service/product, of course a place you wanted to always visit I can promise you every country has a event, I have to trick my mind into believing this is a business trip, but I bring all vacation geer. And what a experience has been Trust me it really works, Our mind becomes so ingrained in our business we build barriers queues that so easily keep us from taking sometime, and is self inflicted. Just do it take the time, because you needed. Global truth you will surely burn yourself out if you don't I know I been their, not a good state to be when making business decisions
Running a one-person business has its benefits like choosing your own hours, but it makes the idea of taking a vacation seem impossible.
The Business.com team recently published an article that offers tips to solopreneurs wanting to plan a vacation. You can read it here: Vacationing from Your One-Person Business: 4 Tips to Unwind Without Worry.
It is important to take some R&R for yourself but unfortunately, as a one-person business, you won't be able to unplug entirely. Set up an automated away from the office message to emails that come in during your vacation days. This will help reduce follow up emails and voicemails from clients that don't hear back from you right away.
Then, set aside a small amount of time each day to check in with your clients or respond to urgent emails (30 minutes per each vacation day). Most clients will respect that you are taking time away and you will reply in more detail when you return to work.
I have handled this challenge for many many years because I've owned my small interior design business for over thirty. Fortunately one of the best results from having survived and thrived so long, is that I've learned how to keep a good track of hours off, and what is needed. Taking time off brings me new energy into each work day.
Maybe don't think at first about weeks off, or even three day weekends. Begin with an afternoon and set up a day looking at art, or going to a museum or to the beach to collect driftwood. Whatever the time you give yourself, you will tell your brain : "This isn't so difficult.", and you'll arrange the next afternoon or whole day off, immediately. After awhile, you will see what it takes, and that is usually good planning. You will not lose money, because you will have worked a few evenings before, to manage what you would have done. Bit by bit. Baby steps and pretty soon, you will be an excellent manager able to take more and more time for yourself. Good lessons usually take time. Most of all, you are stretching your unconscious to except this good strategy as being your new normal. Carolyn
Great question. I suffer from this too. On the one hand I love the independence and the freedom to control my day, but the never ending tie-down to the phone, credit card processing, and other services wears me down. Thanksgiving actually provides more of a real break because the whole world goes away for four days. I came back refreshed and energized. Perhaps part time help is the answer until the business warrants full-time support.
Not knowing your product it will be difficult to exactly give you the idea but generally a company even in case of an individual running the business needs complete empathy from its customers and suppliers.
This will not worsen your relationship in fact it will improve your bond and give a long term understanding.
First of all, there is no harm in having one or two days break and getting completely out of reach and get yourself into a re-energizing mode. Set your email response according to your availability after one or two days .You have to do it forcefully and letting everyone know that you are on a break.This will give you an idea of the actual impact of your non availability on the business. At the same time create a space between you and other stakeholders which is very healthy for the business and your relationships.
Secondly, longer breaks are also possible by informing people that you will be only accessible through emails and you will only read emails during a specific time of the day. So they will send the mails keeping in mind your access to emails. Again this is extremely healthy for your business . This will help you prioritize your other tasks,self development, future strategy making, reflection of the previous achievements and failures,identifying what additional resources in such circumstances you need in terms of manpower etc.
Last but not the least , in all these situations your communication and relationship skills come into play for your own benefit and also for the benefit of your customer because they would also require you to be at your best when you are available.
The businesses should always coordinate to work on one healthy constraint and that is a human resource is after all a human being who should be given the required personal space for his or her well being and for the well being of the relationships as a whole.
Best of luck,
from the tone of your words I sense you definitely need a break. No doubt about it.
The answer is difficult because I do not know whether you have a team - in this case train somebody to handle the routine tasks, thus leaving only a few critical issues to be tackled remotely - or not. Should this be the case if your business has a minimum of seasonality try to capitalize on it, alerting your customers well in advance that you will be away for some reasons with limited availability: in principle it should work, as it happens in the vast majority of jobs.
Finally my reco is: do your homework, plan and go! when you'll be back your cutomers will still be there....
Have a nice journey,
It depends on how you manage your time and how much you value your vacation. In my case, I can combine business with pleasure. I schedule my vacation around my training seminars. This may be much more difficult if you own a retail store, for example.
However, if you make your vacation a high priority, then you can always make some kind of arrangements. For example, I also own and manage my residential rental properties. So when I go on vacation, I have trusted people standing by for me. Do you have people you can trust to assist you while you are on your holidays? If you don't, you need to cultivate their relationships.