How To Keep Your Business Running Smoothly So You Can Take A Long Vacation
Summary: Summertime and holidays means vacation time!...Or does it? It's hard to take a vacation when you're worried about your business falling apart while you're gone. Not only do you have to worry about all the work that will pile up while you're gone, but there's also the risk of your business going under completely.
You can keep your business running smoothly in your absence by taking a few simple steps before you leave. Here are some things you can do so that you CAN go on vacation and actually relax and enjoy it while knowing that your business is in good hands.
Summertime is coming! A season notorious for planned trips away from home, usually at beautiful, relaxing, fun-filled locations. Which makes me curious…
Do you have any vacations in the works?
Even though those are nice, I am not talking about a weekend vacation. I am talking about a prolonged period of time you are out of the office, and the business continues working without you…(and does so without problems.)
If this concept feels more like a fantasy than a real, genuine possibility, we’ve got a problem. It’s time to sit back, buckle up, and pay attention. ‘Cause, something needs to change.
3 Ways To Keep Your Business Running Smoothly So You Can Take A Long Vacation
In order to ensure that you can not only step away from your business, but do so WORRY-FREE, you need to focus on 3 primary concepts:
1. Implement the Right Structure
Oftentimes, when we don't input structure into the business, it behaves poorly.
We must create a foundation combining streamlined processes, easy access, and automation. By creating this system, your team can back you up.
So really, and truly, think about what kind of processes, automation, and access is needed to fill the gap while you're out of the office.
It is never too soon to get started, and no process is too small to start with. Think about your day and the actions and decisions you make - keep a running list of processes that can get off your plate and those where you need to train a backup keeps your business running smoothly without you.
2. Smart Scheduling Protects Your Boundaries
As service-based businesses, we often have a service leader heart and may even struggle to say no. But when we let our yes’s pile up and up and up, we’re really only setting ourselves up for burnout, failure, and DEFINITELY no vacations.
That being said, it’s crucial that you set boundaries around your vacations and stick to your schedule! This means…
Do not plan a major deliverable the day before your trip.
Inevitably, something will not go right. You’ll need to take meetings, phone calls, or even postpone the start of your trip. It’s not fair to you, your family, or anyone else with whom you may be going on your much-needed vacation. This keeps your business running smoothly while you are out.
However, if the dates of a big project just so happen to fall before your trip and it is UNAVOIDABLE, then you MUST restructure your processes so that the tasks needed at the very end (right before you leave for your trip) are low-risk and low-effort.
Worst comes to worst; move your deadline to AFTER you get back (preferably a week from when you get back). This gives you a reasonable amount of time to rest and get back into the swing of things.
**NOTE: If your client expresses dissatisfaction with the change in deadline, remember that this is a mild disappointment. It would be a much worse disappointment if you were to keep the deadline, set that expectation, then miss it completely.
Exit and Re-Entry
Exiting is when you are “closing all the loops” on the things left undone, like answering an email, giving your approval on an initiative, or doing what you said you would do. All the things on your plate are either being removed or transitioned from your plate to someone else’s so that you are not the bottleneck in your business.
It’s important that you allow time and space to do this. Depending on the nature of your business and your workload, I would suggest doing your work in such a way that you have at least ONE “buffer day” before the start of your trip. During this day, you will have no meetings, no calls, and no big-picture stuff. Just closing loops.
Don't think about the time on the way out of the door. Consider your re-entry as well to keep your business running smoothly, but also to make getting back in the swing of the business smooth too.
Re-entry can burn, so have a process in place to reacquaint yourself with where all of your to-dos are so that you don't have to hit the ground running and unwind from all the relaxation you just enjoyed.
Allowing time on the front and back end of your trip is crucial to having everything go smoothly.
One of our clients recently experienced the joy of having the time needed to wrap things up and easy back into the work schedule. "Now that I have experienced and understand the difference taking this time for my sanity makes; I'll never skip this step again."
Schedule Your Back-up
You can cross-train the leadership team in your business to take on roles when you are away so they can fill in the gaps, but it takes preparation.
Training three months ahead of your trip is ideal because it allows enough time to ease them into the new responsibilities. Then, allow them to fully take over the role the week before you leave so you are still there to work out any issues. (Hint: This helps you with your exit and gives everyone a level of confidence that they’ve got it all figured out.)
Overall, being strategic about your planning/training/scheduling will prevent anyone from going into shock once you leave to go off the grid.
3. Set Expectations and Communicate Clearly
You can rarely communicate too much.
Each human on this earth is bombarded with information. And if you choose only to communicate once and think everybody's going to remember, it is your responsibility that they forget.
It does take constant and clear communication.
Here are an example of how you can communicate frequently and early.
It's almost like that broken record. But you want to ensure everyone's expectations are set so your team knows what's up. Your clients know what is up. They know that things are going to happen.
Periods of time to rest and recharge are needed by all – yes, even entrepreneurs! And as much as it may feel like a far-away goal, it doesn’t have to be. If you can create a structured, easily-repeatable process, set proper boundaries, and clearly communicate each team member’s tasks and expectations, the dream vacation you thought was impossible will shortly be within reach. There's nothing more restful than knowing how to keep your business running smoothly so you can take a long vacation.
But, through all of this, I want you to remember: Practice what you preach! In other words, if you want your team to respect your boundaries, you must respect your team’s boundaries just the same. Allow them to enjoy their time away from their work responsibilities and don’t bother them on vacation. No Slack messages, no emails, no calls, no nothing. Set a good example with your actions, and your team will follow suit.
Let us know if you want some help walking through any of this process!
Leslie Hassler is a popular author and speaker who spends much of her time coaching business owners on how to run their growing businesses by their rules. Delivering high-touch, personalized service, Leslie works with her clients as a partner, not just a consultant (who would pop in, tell you what to do, then leave).
Leslie teaches her clients a structured way to decide what to do first, second, next -- and never – in their businesses, so that they can learn to do it for themselves.
Leslie lives in Dallas with her husband and two kids, so she knows it’s not just about growing the business – it’s about getting the business ship shape so it grows and you can be home in time for dinner.
Leslie speaks on topics such as business leadership, prioritizing the business owner’s To Do list, and how to create and implement a strategic plan for growth.
If you’d like to have Leslie come speak to your group or organization, or present at your event, inquire here.