How to Take Time Off When You Run a Small Business

Steps to help you take time off from your business

Plan ahead. Your employees probably already have their summer holidays scheduled. Take a tip from them and put some downtime for yourself on your calendar, too. Blocking off holiday days now will help you avoid scheduling any important client meetings or deadlines during those dates. If you can’t manage a week off at once, try taking one long weekend each month. You’ll be surprised what it can do for your mental health.

Prepare your team. Even longer holidays such as a week or more can be managed as long as you enlist the help of your staff. Now’s the time to get them ready to take over some of your duties while you’re gone. This may be hard for you to do, but letting go of some tasks (at least temporarily) will give your employees a sense of accomplishment at learning something new and gaining more responsibility. Who knows? When you come back from your holiday, you may decide to leave some duties on your employees’ plates instead of reclaiming them for yourself.

Prepare your customers. Most customers will be quite understanding of your need for time off—after all, they take vacations too, and this time of year is when most people need a breather. Let them know well in advance so you can either get projects wrapped up before you leave or postpone them until you get back. If neither option works, introduce your customer to the employee who’ll be handling their project until you get back, giving them plenty of time to get to know each other first.

Technology to help you take a break from your business

Arm yourself with apps. Speaking of technology, there’s a mobile app for everything these days. Make sure your smartphone and/or tablet are loaded up with the mobile version of the apps you need, that you’ve got all your passwords accessible (a password manager is a great tool for this), and that you’re armed with chargers to keep you ready to work on the road if you have to. You may never need to use these tools on your holiday, but just knowing they’re there will give you peace of mind.

Know thyself. Choose a holiday that’s realistic for the way you work. You might want a week off the grid beyond reach of cell phone towers and civilization. Or you might break out in hives at the mere thought of 10 minutes without Wi-Fi. If being able to keep in touch with the office makes you feel better, by all means choose a holiday spot where you can access the technology you need to feel secure.

Just do it. Even if you’re prepared to work on holiday, try your hardest to unplug for at least part of each day. If you can’t let go of work, you won’t get the full benefits of time away. Limit email or phone check-ins to once a day and have your staff contact you only in emergencies (be sure to define exactly what an emergency is).

Many entrepreneurs get their best ideas on holiday. Who knows? You could have your next big brainstorm while lying on the beach.

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