After all the work you’ve put in to building your business, you deserve a break. But do you feel comfortable taking one? Would the stress of leaving your enterprise keep you from enjoying your time away?
Dedication to your business is admirable, but if it can’t function without you – even for a short vacation – this should be a concern. Instead of looking at a vacation as a distraction from your business, treat it like a trial run of your business succession plan. For your business to have value apart from your hard work, someone else should be able to run it. Who is that person?
If you don’t have a full-fledged partner, do you have a senior manager who can fill in for you while you are away? If not, take some time to train one of your employees to pinch-hit, possibly full time, while you are on break.
Make sure your replacement is prepared to handle the day-to-day demands of running your business. Plan in advance by making a list of all important procedures and systems. Include everything you do on a regular basis, plus procedures for emergencies. Also, gradually delegate responsibility to your replacement: begin assigning them more advanced tasks while you are still present and provide as much-on-the-job training as possible so they can continue in your absence.
Another option to look into is getting a short-term hire for the summer season. Service Canada offers government funding to create summer job opportunities for students and can point to other grants for which you may be eligible. A student employee may not have the experience to take on all of your duties, but if you prepare in advance you may be able to trust them with basic housekeeping (even if this just means answering the phone).
If you are uncomfortable trusting your business to another party, can you make arrangements to be away from your business with minimal interruption of service for customers? Can you make arrangements with your customers to fulfill their needs in advance? If you have a small number of clients, try to schedule your vacation around your customers’ expected needs and demands.
If all else fails, and if the option is open to you, consider taking your work with you. Plan ahead to ensure that you can continue to communicate with your staff and customers. Make sure that you have a mobile phone plan that allows roaming, and that your travel destination has communications facilities in place. Hotel business centres are often expensive, so make sure the price is right for you. You can also enquire with your service provider whether they have a roaming package for small enterprises.
Time away from work allows you to decompress and gives you a new perspective on your business when you get back. By planning ahead, you can take a vacation without hurting your business.