You love what you do, but is working to the point of burnout going to make you a better person? Does it serve your business in the way you'd like to believe? Not really. In my experience as a business coach, most small business owners who work 12-hour days and obsess over calls and emails on a day off (59 percent, according to the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index) aren't nearly as effective as those who take real breaks.
The problem is that too many entrepreneurs feel a loss of control if they step away from their business for even a few days. Yet time to rejuvenate is critical to success, so much so that a growing segment in the corporate world is offering bonuses to people who actually take their vacation time.
With a little planning and a lot of courage most entrepreneurs can step away for a much-needed break. The holiday season is the perfect time to make it happen--so while there's time left to plan, let's get you ready to go!
Use this checklist to build a model that can sustain itself in your absence, at least for a brief period of time.
1. Create documentation
Create as much documentation for procedures and processes as possible. Employees will be clear about what they are responsible for and how to handle most situations independently. As a bonus, this documentation will add value to your business.
Tip: This isn't a job you have to add to your plate; ask your employees to create step-by-step documentation for their responsibilities.
2. Let people know
Let your customers, vendors, and other key contacts know that you will be gone and for how long. Provide them with the numbers and email information for your assistant or other backup people.
No employees? Find someone who is willing to take emergency calls and properly "triage" them for you. A competent relative or friend who knows even a little about your business will be able to do this.
3. Get things done
Make a list of everything you need to get done to prepare for your time away. Begin well in advance and schedule time to accomplish some of these tasks daily.
4. Look ahead
Look at production schedules well in advance and order any necessary supplies or goods ahead of time. This will allow you to get ahead of schedule (or stay on schedule) in preparation for your time away.
5. Check in with customers
Call key clients a week or two before your vacation and ask if there is anything they need prior to your departure. This is also a great way to drum up extra business!
6. Pay the bills
Make sure that important invoices and bills are paid, including liability insurance, rent, vendors, payroll, and utilities. You don't want the lights going out while you're gone!
7. Just do it!
Tell yourself that you deserve it and shed the guilt and worry! Remember, you became a business owner to gain freedom, not lose it.
Go ahead, take the plunge. Preferably into a nice, warm ocean. Even if you take only a couple of days away from your chaotic schedule, you will thank yourself for it. So will your family, friends, employees, and even your bottom line.