7 Tips for Managing Your Business While on Vacation

7 Tips for Managing Your Business While on Vacation

by Jane Haskins, Esq., June 2016

Owning a business can mean long hours, hard work, and financial uncertainty.

While the rest of the world is planning summer beach trips, you're working. You don't take time off because you're afraid of what could happen. What will clients and customers do without you? Will they leave you for a competitor? How will it look if there's an emergency and you're surfing in Fiji?

The fact is, a vacation is one of the best things you can do for yourself, your business, and your customers:

  • A vacation gives you a physical and mental break.
  • You'll come back with renewed energy and a fresh perspective.
  • You'll learn that your customers and employees can live without you for a couple weeks.
  • You'll avoid the burnout and resentment that can destroy your employee and client relationships.

Ready to get away? You'll need three things: planning, communication, and the right mindset.

1. Get in the right frame of mind.

A vacation means relaxing and unplugging from your business. Really commit to your well-deserved vacation, and plan ahead so you don't bring your work with you. You won't have much fun if you're stuck in a cramped cruise ship cabin with your laptop while everyone else drinks piña coladas by the pool.

2. Plan ahead.

Schedule your vacation three to six months in advance, so you'll have plenty of time to prepare. If possible, plan to take your vacation at a time of year when your business is slower.

3. Consider shutting down entirely.

Some restaurants and retail stores close for a planned vacation every year. If you're a service provider who works by appointment—like a massage therapist or hairstylist—you may be able to simply close your doors. Notify customers ahead of time and they'll wish you well—and they'll come back to hear your travel stories.

4. Manage your workload.

If you're in a service business, schedule your work so you don't have deadlines to meet during your time away, or in the week after you return. Also, try to wrap things up a week before you leave. This helps you prepare for project delays that can turn your departure into a nightmare and also gives you time to catch up when you get back.

5. Tell clients and customers.

Problems arise when clients expect you to be around—and then you're not. Tell them about your vacation well in advance, and remind them shortly before you leave. If you have a storefront you'll be closing, post a sign on the door and an update on social media so customers know when you'll be away and when you'll be back.

6. Manage your phone and email.

You may be on vacation, but the rest of the world isn't.

  • Set up an email auto-responder and a voicemail message saying you will return nonurgent messages when you get back.
  • Set aside a specific time of day to check your voicemail and email, and to check in with people back at the office.
  • Respond to messages that are critical, and make a note of the ones you'll need to answer when you return.

If you tend to receive lots of calls and emails, train an employee or hire a virtual assistant to sort them and direct only the most important ones to you.

7. Prepare for emergencies.

  • If you have employees, designate someone to troubleshoot customer and client issues while you are away, and be sure that person knows when to contact you for help.
  • If you don't have employees, consider referring emergencies to a competitor.
  • If you have an office or storefront, leave clear instructions and contact phone numbers so employees can handle issues like internet connectivity and building maintenance without you.

Taking time away from your small business can seem scary at first, but it's important for your physical and mental health—and the health of your business. With a bit of advance planning and good communication, you'll find that enjoying a relaxing vacation is easier than you ever imagined.

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