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The Small Business Owner’s Guide to (Finally) Taking a Vacation

By Townes Haas   |    July 22, 2019   |    10:37 AM

How to Take Time Off When You Run a Small Business

If you’re like most small business owners, you rarely (if ever) take an extended break from running your company. In fact, surveys have even found that nearly 50% of small business owners take only major holidays off, if they take any time off at all. 

Even if you have a million things to do and the thought of disconnecting sends you into a panic, you need to relax and recharge. It might sound impossible, but virtually anyone can take time off if they plan ahead… just use these tips to schedule guilt-free time away from the business.

Plan (far) in advance

Think about a typical year running your business. You don’t want to schedule vacation time during the busy season, but there may be a slower period that could work out perfectly. Block out this time on your calendar as far in advance as you can manage.

Once you’ve selected dates, notify everyone who will need to know about your absence. Employees, contractors, clients, and other people you work with regularly will all need to know. It’s best to give a one month advance notice for longer absences, and one to two weeks for shorter vacations. Use your discretion — for example, you may want to give internal team members a head’s up first.

Delegate while you’re away

The business won’t fall apart while you’re away, especially if you delegate properly.

Think about all of your responsibilities, the projects you’re working on, and everything else that you do in the business. Then, write down the name of the person with the knowledge and skills to get the job done. If this person isn’t yet on your team, don’t worry, because you can always hire someone to help out.

Virtual assistants can be a great way to fill in gaps while you’re out on vacation. They’re capable of handling a wide variety of tasks, and you can use their services on an as-needed basis. Because you work with a virtual office services company (like Intelligent Office), you don’t even need to handle the nitty gritty of hiring and training. Virtual assistants already have basic business skills, and it’s easy to train them on the specifics of what you need.

Whether you delegate to a new person or someone who’s already on your team, use it as an opportunity to document your processes and workflows in writing. Having a record of how things are done is invaluable and ensures that other people can step in to assist when needed. Learn more about developing effective workflows for your business here.

Put in extra hours before your vacation 

You may need to work harder than usual leading up to your vacation, and that’s okay. Just make sure you have a plan and a solid understanding of everything that needs to get done before you leave. 

Equally important is knowing when you’ll stop working and preparing. You may never feel 100% ready to take time off from your small business, and that’s normal. However, don’t let your fears get in the way of doing what’s best for your life and your business. Everyone needs time off to recharge. You’ll come back with a fresh mind that’s motivated to tackle new challenges. 

Teams also need to know that their leader trusts they’ll do a great job. With enough training and support, workers will be fully equipped to keep the business running smoothly during your absence.