Running a business by yourself might be a dream endeavor for some. You're your own boss, you create your own hours and you don't have to worry about sharing profit. But despite the upsides, there are some downfalls to this arrangement. For instance, taking a vacation might not even feel like an option as a sole proprietor.
As a hard-working entrepreneur, you deserve a break like every else. We provided four tips to ease the process.
Plan during quiet times
The busier you are, the more likely you are to itch for time off. However, avoid planning a week's vacation during your most hectic month or season. Wait until there's a break in your schedule, or it's the time of year that's typically slowest.
For instance, many companies experience a "summertime slump" with a drop in sales. Of course, you don't want to abandon your business during a rough patch; but if there's an expected and normal slow time for you, take advantage of it.
"You may have usual slow periods – like the month of August, or the last two weeks of December," said Kim Clark, principal of Polished Professionals Boston. "Slip in a vacation during your slow periods, when you are least likely to disrupt the flow of doing business."
Additionally, she added, take a few periodic days off throughout the year. You'll still get the chance to unwind without neglecting your business for too long.
Prepare for the time away
Robin Young, CEO of Fitness Savvy, works from home and is expecting his second son in October. To prepare for his new baby, he's currently working longer hours now to lessen the work he'll have to put in later. That way, he can dedicate time to his family guilt- and worry-free.
If you won't be working as much as usual, or at all, for a decent period of time, you should be upfront with your contacts and customers. This will prevent confusion, surprises or concerns while you're off the grid.
"If your goal is to vacation for a week or more and you have an ongoing project assignment, inform the client a month in advance of your travel dates," Clark advised. "Create a spread sheet that lists project milestones and deadlines and confirm those with the client, to ensure that you will meet all responsibilities and expectations."
For other contacts, set up an automatic out-of-office email reply so that anyone trying to get in touch with you will know how long you'll be away, and when they should expect to hear back from you, added Young. If you feel comfortable doing so, you can also include your personal number for urgent matters.
Additionally, it wouldn't hurt to contact a go-to friend should something go wrong – especially if you're traveling without your work equipment.
Manage cash flow
One area of business you can't put on hold is your cash flow. However, there are ways to manage it while you're out of the office. If there are any invoices due during your trip, prepare them in advance, Clark said. You can then save them as a draft to send the day it's due.
"Invoice as usual and take care of accounts receivable, so that your income will not be interrupted," she added. "Maintaining healthy cash-flow is always a priority for Solopreneurs, especially when you're paying for a vacation."
Young also recommended you pay all your bills, suppliers and taxes before you leave. That way, you won't have to worry about technical or legal issues during your relaxation time.
Check in occasionally
While you don't want to spend your vacation worrying about work, it's smart to check in each day. You don't have to spend hours every day to please clients; but checking emails once in the morning will not only prevent issues from unfolding but might also ease your mind.
"If there are jobs which must be done, plan to do them only at one specific time while on vacation," said Young. "It is important to only allocate a very small amount of time, so you can enjoy your vacation, and understand the limits of what you plan to do."