In my business coaching company Maui Mastermind, we send out millions of emails each year to our current and prospective clients. Understandably, there is always a certain percentage of bounce-back, unsubs, and undeliverable emails, which we work to minimize. 

There is one undeliverable statistic however, that I love to see increase over time: auto-replies.   I love getting an auto-reply from one of our coaching clients saying that they are finally taking that trip to Europe or taking the summer off to spend time with their family.

Being able to set that autoresponder and walk away knowing that your business will not only survive but flourish in your absence should be the end game for all business owners.

I want to challenge you with a new gauge of your company's health -- the amount of time that you can step away from it and later return to find it as successful as when you were there.

There are two things that really stop you, or any business owner for that matter, from stepping away from your business for a week, or even a month or more. 

1. Building on a One-Legged Stool  

If your idea of building an owner-independent business relies solely on hiring strong team members and letting them do their jobs, you're likely building on a one legged base.

Sure your team matters, it matters greatly.  But over time people come and people go.  Injury, relocation, performance issues or just life will often cost you a key individual.  That's why for twenty years now I've pushed my clients to build on a three-legged stool. 

Of course, one of the key legs is your team, but equally important are the other two legs of the stool:  systems and culture.  When you build on a three-legged stool you have the stable base to sustainably scale your business.

2. Fear of Losing Control

Assuming your company has a solid team, empowered with strong systems and a healthy culture, then if you're still not setting up your autoresponder and taking regular time away from your business, the real root just might be that you're scared of losing control.

Over the years we have worked with more than 100,000 business owners in various stages of growth. I've learned that there is a direct correlation between the speed with which a business owner responds to his or her inbox and their fear of letting go of direct control over every aspect of their business.

Those business owners who respond within minutes invariably have a real fear that if they miss an email their businesses will suffer.  So they live in their inbox, letting outside urgencies rob them of their best concentration and contribution.

The most successful companies, on the other hand, are led by business owners who let other people on their team own functional areas of responsibility in their business.  Perhaps the best way they show they trust their team, systems, and culture, is that they regularly step away from their businesses for a week or longer.  

They set their auto-responders and live in the moment. They build their businesses on their own terms and trust in their team and their systems to handle the rest.

Putting Yourself to the Test

Does the idea of being unavailable scare you? You are not alone. Begin by writing down all the activities that are reliant on your presence. Are you the only one that can sign payroll checks? Make sales calls? Lock the doors at night? Write everything down, and then systematically go about taking those tasks off your plate. Who on your team could handle that function with the right system and training?  Which of these responsibilities need to be redesigned to be simpler and easier for others to own?

Each time you go away, do a recap upon your return of successes and areas for improvement. Then try it again. And again....until you can take the summer off to spend time with your family.

Take the Auto-Responder Challenge

Think about the last time you set your auto-responder. How long has it been? Was it for business or pleasure? How long did your away message say you would be away?  Did you honor the message and truly stop checking email?

I want to challenge you this summer, to make it a point to set your auto-responder at least once. Pick a day, a week or even a month and walk away. The results might just surprise you.