I just got back from a vacation. My business didn’t implode while I was away. There were a few days where I didn’t even check email. I didn’t take any calls. For the most part, I felt mentally at peace with being away.
Truth: I didn’t take a vacation for the first three years I was in business. I worked every weekend and just about every holiday as well. It was awful, I was totally fried, and my family got way too used to doing things without me. When I finally did starting taking vacations again, they were “working” vacations, where I found myself crouched outside the hotel room door every morning frantically making calls so I still had revenue the next month. This was no way to take a vacation! It took five years, but I finally figured it out.
I didn’t start a business so I could never be around or get away, in fact, I’d started a business so I could have more flexibility to have the kind of life I wanted. How did things get so screwed up and how did I fix them? It came down to three simple things that MUST be in alignment: people, process and profits.
1) People: You need to have quality support. It’s absolutely critical if you ever expect to go away. You don’t need a huge staff toiling away in an office while you’re gone, in fact, that can create more problems. What you do need are quality, trustworthy, dependable people that know how to handle things in your absence. If you’re a control freak that needs to have a hand in everything, this won’t go well for you and you need a major mindset shift. You have to be able to delegate critical tasks that will keep your business running while you’re gone. Make sure to have people to cover phones, new business inquiries and existing client inquiries.
2) Process: Do you have processes in place for handling prospects? For client work flow? For meeting deadlines? If you have processes in place, it makes it easy for everyone to know what is expected of them and when. If everything you do is reactionary, it makes it impossible to stick to a process. Do you let calls interrupt you all day long? Then you lack a process. Get control of your day, institute processes and getting away will be a piece of cake because you’ll be clear about the critical areas that need to be covered on a daily basis to keep your business goingg.
3) Profits: This might go without saying, but if your business is not profitable, you probably don’t feel good about taking a vacation. If you are not hitting revenue goals, take a look at why. Is something off in your marketing? Are you spending too much time on project delivery? Maybe you need to get out there and hustle up some new business. When’s the last time you raised your prices? Have you cut some expenses? There are infinite ways to get more profits in the door. If you need ideas, talk to your business advisor, lawyer, accountant or business coach. Don’t have any of these? Well, that’s a huge problem right there!
In short, taking a vacation does not have to mean your business is on fire while you’re gone. With well thought out strategies around people, process and profits, you can go away worry free and when you come back, feel refreshed and even plan your next vacation!