It can be tough to take time off when you run a small business. You’re the bottom line on everything. You make the big decisions, and your staff likely comes to you to resolve disputes or make tough calls. Your livelihood, your chances at a comfortable retirement, your ability to provide for your family—everything rides on your business’s success. And many small businesses have had an extremely difficult year. Even thinking about taking time off might sound impossible right now.
It’s precisely because your business depends so heavily on you and your creativity and know-how that it’s crucial for you to take vacation. Research proves that vacation is important for both your physical and mental health. Taking time away from work can literally make your heart healthier and reduce your stress, which of course is also linked to better health outcomes. It makes you less likely to be depressed. It may even make you more creative.
Vacation is especially beneficial if you can get away. Staycations can be relaxing, but traveling, having new experiences, and getting away from reminders of your daily responsibilities can be even better for you. Even just planning a trip can bring mental health benefits, making you significantly happier.
Of course, it’s easiest to take a vacation during your business’s slow season. But no matter when you go, you’ll need to do some prep work to ensure that your staff can handle things while you’re away.
If your staff tends to come to you to answer every question, think about investing some time in training your front-line staff to handle common dilemmas and customer questions themselves. This will pay off not only in making it easier for you to get away, but in streamlining your time at work when you get back.
You’ll also need to delegate your day-to-day tasks to someone–or to a few people. Choose someone trustworthy who can step in to make those little decisions for you on a daily basis. If something urgent comes up, this person should be empowered to make bigger decisions as well.
Set clear boundaries for yourself while you’re away–and stick to them. You’ll get the most out of your vacation if you can fully disconnect and avoid checking in with the business while you’re gone. If that’s not possible, try to limit the amount of time you plan to spend checking in. Can you do 30 minutes a day? Schedule that time and plan what you’ll do with it. Will you check email? Will you check your Clover dashboard from your mobile phone or laptop, so you have a quick update on how the business is doing? If you plan this time in advance, you’ll know you’ll have the rest of the day free to relax. Let your staff know when you’ll plan to check email, and be clear about what situations would constitute an emergency for which they should call your cell phone right away.
Take advantage of as many time-saving apps as possible, to ensure that your business keeps running smoothly while you’re away. For example, Homebase Time Clock and Schedule makes employee scheduling easier, and allows employees to easily switch shifts. Gusto automates and streamlines payroll. Clover’s App Market includes many apps that can help you manage time-consuming tasks like inventory and invoicing more efficiently. If you set up some of these apps in advance of your vacation, you can also train your top staff to stay on top of these processes while you’re gone. Again, you’ll save yourself hassle on vacation and time going forward.
Taking vacation as a small business owner isn’t easy. It will require some advance planning. But the payoff could be huge in terms of your physical and mental health, and possibly even the health of your business. After all, anything that boosts your creativity is good for your business. And some of the prep work you’ll do to get ready for your vacation, like delegating tasks, empowering top managers, and streamlining some back-end processes, will pay off down the line in a more efficient, better-run business.
What’s one thing you can do today to get your business ready for your vacation?
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