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It’s not easy taking a vacation when you have a business to run. In 2015, only 57% of small-business owners planned to take a vacation that year, and less than 10% would take two full weeks. Of those that planned a vacation, 67% intended to check in with work at least once a day. Few business owners enjoy micromanaging their employees, but it’s hard to disconnect and not worry about day-to-day operations.
Vacations help you de-stress and clear your mind. They won’t do you much good if you spend your days responding to emails. Even if you can’t avoid work entirely, these five tips will help you manage your business while still enjoying your vacation.
Out-of-office voicemail messages and email auto-responders are helpful reminders of your vacation status, but they shouldn’t be your only announcement to your staff, top clients, and affiliate partners.
At least one month in advance, inform your employees and affiliate partners of your vacation schedule so they can follow up on projects beforehand. Provide them the contact information for your second-in-command. If you’re closing up shop while you’re gone, email your clients, announce the change of hours on social media, and post a sign on your storefront window weeks in advance.
Every business owner needs a stand-in for when they’re gone. This might be your COO, or for small companies, your most competent and reliable manager. Make sure the person you choose is someone you feel comfortable leaving in charge, regardless of their title.
If you haven’t already, nominate someone on your team to manage daily operations and field all questions or concerns while you’re gone. Meet with this individual before you leave for vacation to review procedures for tasks, and make sure the rest of your staff knows who will be in charge while you’re out of the office.
It’s hard to enjoy your vacation when your phone keeps ringing and your inbox is full. Before you leave for vacation, give your employees a communication policy. Outline how and when they can reach you. You may dedicate a couple of hours on specific days for reviewing emails and responding to calls. If you’re traveling abroad, make sure you and your employees have long-distance phone service so you can communicate by phone during emergencies.
If you share a communication policy, your employees will know when they can expect a response. The hardest part is committing to your plan; avoid checking in more frequently than you said you would.
You don’t want nightmares of your office burning down to ruin your vacation. You’ll feel much more at ease if you have an emergency protocol your employees can follow should something go wrong. Consider some of the biggest problems that could happen and how your employees can resolve them. For example, what should they do if a pipe bursts or they get locked out of the office? Who should respond to customer or client issues?
Create a document that outlines steps to take in response to potential emergencies or problems. Along with clear instructions, include contact phone numbers for building maintenance personnel, the internet service provider, the security company, the website host, and any other service providers.
Web-based project management tools such as Trello make it easy for you to stay in the loop with your team without getting bogged down by the minute details. Using a collaboration tool, you can see what your team is working on and their current progress. Before you leave for vacation, delegate tasks and create goals for your team members to accomplish while you’re gone.
Limit the number of projects you oversee so you avoid spending hours working when you should be relaxing. Depending on the tool you use, you can personalize your settings to ensure you only receive email notifications when projects are complete or require your review.
Don’t miss out on me-time because you’re worried about your business surviving while you’re gone. Entrepreneurs need time to recharge, and putting these tips into practice will make it that much easier to relax. Start following these steps now so you’re ready and stress-free before your next vacation.