You Too Can Take A Vacation
Surveys are interesting. I took note of this one done recently by
American Express because it backed up some data I learned at the (National
Association of Female Executives) NAFE National Conference in May.
According to the survey, 40% of the smallest business owners - those with
less than $200,000 in annual revenues - are planning no vacation
whatsoever this summer. But even business owners with higher revenues
aren't doing much better - only 75% of them expect to get away from the
business this summer.
As we were told at the NAFE Conference, even those business owners who
do get away from the office, won't truly get away. Rather, one in three
will link their vacation time to a business trip and 50% will still check
in with the office at least once a day.
Why can't business owners let go? What are the concerns that keep them
tied to the business? According to the survey:
* An important client or customer will not receive appropriate service
* The business will miss out on a new opportunity
* There is no other competent person to leave in charge
* The individuals left in charge will make the wrong decisions
* An operational or equipment breakdown will occur without anyone to solve
Such concerns are not surprising. It is hard for a business owner to
take any type of vacation worry-free. But with planning, preparation and
good leadership you can boost the enjoyment level of your time off to come
back refreshed and ready to tackle new challenges and opportunities. Here
are 8 steps to prevent vacation angst.
1. Make a plan - To avoid surprises, create a list of scenarios on your
current projects and brief your staff on the possibilities and your major
concerns about each client. Assign specific staff to each client/account
so there is someone that clients can speak to who understands their
concerns when you aren't there.
2. Brief your key clients or customers - Offer them advance notice of
any extended absence you are planning. There's no reason to keep your
vacation schedule a secret. Introduce them to your deputy and convey your
confidence in their ability to handle any issues that may arise. If
appropriate, consider letting them know how to reach you should a true
emergency arise - not that one will because of all your pre-planning.
3. Leadership is being a delegator not a dictator - If you never
delegate important tasks to others, you can't expect them to be ready to
fill your shoes when you want to take time off. To create a saner
situation and build confidence that good things will happen when you
aren't there, learn to delegate responsibilities - divvy up those pieces
that must still happen in your absence and postpone those that can wait
for your return.
4. Strategically schedule your vacation time - Most businesses have a
slow season or times of the year when the pace is slower, or at least a
bit less crazy. Plan your vacations to coincide with those lulls.
5. Mini-Vacations - If you just can't let go of the business for a
whole week or two, or you can't bear to be too far away from the office,
try taking a few days out of town, or extend a weekend somewhere else.
Even a brief escape from routine with a change of scenery can do wonders
for your perspective and re-energize you.
6. Disconnect entirely - When you do take a vacation: turn off your
cell phone, don't bring the laptop, don't check your email, don't bring
work with you and avoid the temptation to call or visit the office to
"check up" on what's happening. If there's an emergency they can't handle,
they will find you.
7. Take time off to sharpen skills - If you just can't justify taking
time off to kick back and relax, then take time off to learn something new
- business or personal. Taking continuing education courses at a local
college or business school is a low-cost and effective way to break from
your office routine, be with new people and try new things. Some programs
are 3-5 days off-site if that fits your schedule better.
8. Keep your priorities straight - When you go through the exercise of
listing the things you really care about, is your business really #1, 2,
and 3? Outside of work, your priorities might be connecting with family
and friends, spending time with kids, cultivating personal interests,
staying healthy or pursuing an avocation. To regain balance in your life,
you need to keep work, family and personal time in perspective. Those
other priorities help you find more enjoyment in your time away from the
Let me know if these tips help you take a well-deserved vacation (or
two) this summer.
About The Author
Kerri Salls, MBA runs a virtual business school to train, consult and
coach small business CEO's and entrepreneurs in 10 key strategies to make
more profit in less time. Learn more at
http://www.breakthrough-business-school.com/products.html or sign up
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