For many entrepreneurs and small business owners, obligatory fun is a difficult lesson to accept, particularly during tough economic times. True, there’s the argument that doing what you love as a profession qualifies as “fun”, but I’m talking real fun. I’m talking vacation fun.
Self-employment carries with it a daunting list of sacrifices (no health insurance, no set workweek, no regular paycheck…), but foregoing fun should not be one of them. Time-off imbues people with a renewed sense of purpose and a fresh set of eyes. Beyond rejuvenation, vacation gives you the opportunity to test your business and isolate any holes in its operations.
But tearing yourself away isn’t easy. Maybe you’re short-staffed during the summer season. Maybe you feel guilty for leaving your work behind. For this week’s “How-To Tuesday”, I’ve compiled some tips on how to overcome those relaxation hurdles and kick up your heels.
- Plan in advance. When your vacation is motivated by stress, it’s tempting to disappear for a week with little notice. Scheduling your vacation well in advance, however, will insure a more relaxing experience: “Put your vacation on your calendar and take steps to prepare for it, just as you would any other project. This kind of advance planning will allow you to project potential snags, and take steps to ensure that they don't deprive you of needed time off.”
- Cede control to staff before your departure. According to “A Small Business Owner’s Guide to Vacation”: “Taking a vacation is the perfect opportunity to test the abilities of your trusted staff members to handle the ship. Have your staff make a list of top priorities to have them buy into the accountabilities of running the office before you leave. Remember to let go of control and you'll have greater success in delegation.”
- If you must check in, set limits. In order to keep your work at bay, Amanda of “Small Business CEO” writes: “I don’t see anything wrong with taking an hour out each day to quickly check over things back home. It’s a necessary evil of running your own business. Keep it limited to a very small time frame and avoid inconveniencing anyone else on the trip.”
- Don’t rush the reentry. Leaving work seems less stressful when you have a cohesive plan for your return. A survey conducted by American Express OPEN recommends: “One-quarter (26%) will prepare a to-do list before leaving, return a couple of days before they are due to the office or refrain from scheduling appointments the day they return. One in five (20%) will ease back into work by getting caught up on emails the day before they return.”
So, unless you’re in a business that thrives during the 4th of July weekend, reserve some time for yourself over the next few days and plan something big for the upcoming year. Get out of town or check out yesterday’s “stay-cation” suggestions. If you’re really struggling with the whole concept of a vacation, tack some personal days onto the end of a business trip. I don’t care how you do it; just make sure it’s fun.