Taking a vacation when you run a business can feel next to impossible. When you're ultimately responsible for the success of the company, it's natural to be nervous about being "out of touch" -- even if it's only a short trip. However, if you want to enjoy yourself and truly recharge, you need to be able to trust your team to handle things in your absence.
Before your next vacation, be sure to follow these seven steps recommended by successful entrepreneurs. Their recommendations will help you thoroughly prepare to hand things off before you go, so you can spend your time relaxing instead of worrying about your business.
Appoint a second-in-command.
As a business owner, it's always good to have a "second-in-command" to take over when you're out of the office. Whether it's your co-founder or your executive assistant, it's important to have a go-to person for your employees and clients, says Syed Balkhi, co-founder of WPBeginner.
"If any employees have questions or concerns, they are to discuss their problems with the acting supervisor," explains Balkhi. "When a situation escalates and my input is needed, the supervisor in charge can contact me."
Automate your routine day-to-day tasks.
According to Stephanie Wells, founder of Formidable Forms, automating those small, routine tasks before you leave can help you feel much more relaxed on your vacation.
"For instance, you can set up automatic payments for your bills, schedule social media posts and automate your email marketing so your employees can focus on more important things," Wells adds.
Set your team up for success.
Going on vacation without providing your team with the processes, documents, instructions, metrics and other needed tools will inevitably set them up for failure, says Colton Gardner, founder and COO of Neighbor. It's essential to document any new tasks they might face and give them access to all data or files they may need.
"Your team won't know what they won't know," Gardner says. "Make sure each person understands their responsibilities while you're away."
Allow for some flexibility.
Thomas Griffin, co-founder and president of OptinMonster, recommends giving your team some flexibility in how they accomplish the tasks they're taking over from you.
"You can either outline how you get tasks completed and encourage them to do the same, or simply lay them out and let them decide how and when they'd like to do them," says Griffin. "There's power in giving them the opportunity to decide how they want to operate."
Set up a communication plan for your time away.
Before Ashley Merrill, founder and CEO of Lunya, goes on vacation, she makes it a priority to clear out her inbox to give her peace of mind during her trip. Then, she outlines a clear communication plan for her team while she's gone.
"I notify my team to text me if there is an emergency and to only include me on essential emails so I don't generate a huge email stockpile," Merrill explains. "I then allot two times a day to look at emails."
Keep everyone informed of your plans.
While prepping your team is important, a part of your planning should include communicating your plans to external stakeholders too.
"It's helpful to inform anyone who's likely to contact you, such as clients or suppliers, that you'll be away," says Kalin Kassabov, founder and CEO of ProTexting. "That way they can either connect with you before or after your vacation, or they'll know who to contact instead."
Run a 'vacation test' before you go.
Jessica Gonzalez, CEO of InCharged, advises conducting a "vacation test" before you leave to make sure your team knows how to handle things in your absence.
"Often when entrepreneurs can't take their hands off the wheel, it's because they've built a business around themselves, not around defined tasks and processes," Gonzalez says. "What are you doing day-to-day? Who knows about it? How's it tracked? Could someone else hop in? If you don't have systems in place, then start. It won't just let you take a break--it's better business."