This week I am on vacation. The blog you are reading right now was written and handed off to my team before I left. In my team meeting, I told my team I had confidence in their ability to handle things while I am gone. I also said I had less confidence in myself to stay out of the business while I am supposed to be on vacation.
As a small business owner, it can sometimes be difficult to let go and forget about work. Our business is our baby and it’s not uncommon to be challenged with getting our minds away from entrepreneurship and into relaxation. This time, however, I promised myself I would use this vacation as a test for my business efficiency, among other things. After all, why would anyone want to own a business that didn’t allow for a vacation, even several vacations every year?
Here is the test I will put myself and my business through. I encourage you to do the same for yourself the next time you want to take a vacation.
- Do you have a team in place to manage your business while you’re gone? If not, it’s time to hire one. You cannot fully relax on vacation without an efficient team you can trust. If you want a “working” vacation, then fly solo. But if you want a “real” vacation, you need a team, even if it’s just a team of one.
- Who is the quarterback on your team that will run the plays while you are gone? Normally, this is your OBM (online business manager). She knows what is going on and can orchestrate the rest of the team. The team always needs a point person to go to with questions and your clients need someone they can contact for assistance.
- Have you looked ahead to determine what could come up? Whether you are gone for one week or three, it’s essential to review open projects and the next steps that need attention while you are gone. Based on what is currently going on in the business, anticipate what might surface and give instructions on how to handle.
- Who is monitoring your email inbox? It might be tempting to set up an email out of office autoresponder and let your email pile up. This is a mistake. Nothing will set you back further when you return than to sort through hundreds of unread and unanswered emails. Assign someone to manage your email.
- Let all the important people know you are going on vacation. Of course, your team needs to know, but also consider notifying high-profile clients and others that contact you frequently. More often than not, people will hold work until you come back or contact you with requests before you leave.
- Set up your email out of office autoresponder. Make sure you include your point person’s contact information. Hint: The point person is not yourself. Set your boundaries and don’t allow others to contact you on vacation. Emergencies can be filtered through your team.
- Don’t bring your laptop. This is only for business owners who have complete confidence in their team and want to challenge themselves to completely let go and unwind. Caution: May experience laptop withdrawal.
- Do not open your email. You are on vacation. Email will suck you right back into the business. Oh, let me just respond to this one email. Oh, let me see what Joe needs. The next thing you know you’ve just spent over an hour on email. But it doesn’t stop there. Now your mind is back on the business, exactly where it shouldn’t be when you’re on vacation.
- Do not contact your team. Your team has been instructed to contact you if they truly need help. Trust your team to take care of things. Empower them to figure out problems and make decisions on your behalf.
- Coach your team if they do contact you. Sometimes your team might be stuck. Other times they lack confidence and fear making a mistake while you’re gone. If they do contact you with an issue, coach them to figure things out. Guide them to find solutions on their own. This will help them feel more empowered the next time you go on vacation.
- Let go and enjoy your vacation. Sometimes it takes a couple of days to unwind and get your mind in vacation mode. Be patient with yourself as you work to be fully present in the precious moments of your vacation. Do things you enjoy and allow your mind, body, and spirit to be nourished and refueled.
- Slowly return to work. Do not dive into your email the moment you get on the plane to return home. It will all be waiting for you when you get back. Allow yourself to transition back into work and monitor your stress.
- Connect with your team to get a summary of the week. Schedule a meeting with your OBM so she/he can give you the rundown and review the “need to know” items you missed.
- Ask each team member to share a report of what went well and what hiccups they ran into. This points to the holes in your systems, your planning, and/or emergencies you can build a response to for the future. Does your team need further training in some business activities? Do they feel confident and trusted to be a valuable member of your team?
- Prepare an “After Vacation” to-do list. Maybe some systems need to change. There could be follow up items leftover from the week. Future training or plans might be scheduled in anticipation for the next vacation.
- Review the emails your team has “starred” for you to look at. Assume these are the important ones and the rest of the emails are handled. You can go down the email rabbit hole if you try to review every email that came in while you were gone.
- Rate yourself on your ability to stay out of the business. On a scale of 1 to 10, how well did you do with vacationing? Did you break any of these rules or get sucked into the business while you were gone? Did your business run smoothly, or did it fall apart? This rating tells you if you have room to grow.
You work hard every day and you deserve a vacation. Not a working vacation but a “real” vacation. Put your business through this vacation test the next time you have scheduled some R&R for yourself. Then measure how well you do. Make adjustments so each time you get better and better at enjoying your vacation.
In desperate need of a vacation? Need someone you can totally trust while you are gone? Amazing OBM will manage your business while you relax on the beach (or vacation in the way you enjoy). Schedule a complimentary 30-minute discovery call.
A Vacation is a Test for Your Business Efficiency (and so much more)
April 9, 2019