How to Take a Vacation

As some of you may know, I got married recently.  We did the whole big wedding thing, which was amazing and wonderful, but more importantly, we went out of the country for our honeymoon.  When I say we went out of the country, it means I left my staff in charge of my businesses for 12 days.  For the first time EVER.  If you own a business, you know how stressful that can be.  To hope that nothing drastic will go wrong, that all the bills have been paid and that you didn’t forgot anything.  Not to mention, did you train your staff enough to handle anything that may come up in your absence?

My staff did a great job managing everything while I was gone.  I did take an IPAD on the trip, so if they had to get in touch with me I was checking my email twice a day.  Stuff went wrong, they had a CRAZY week, but no one emailed me.  Apparently they took a pact not to disturb me, even when they told a customer they would.  Not only have I tried to train my staff to make decisions on their own and be responsible for those decisions, but I’m also blessed since they knew that our honeymoon was the first time I had truly left the business alone for more than 48 hours since I started almost 4 years ago.  Below are my tips on how I managed:

  1. You are not indispensable:  Giving your staff free rein is tough, but not only is it doable, it’s necessary.  As business owners and managers we like to think that we are indispensable and nothing will get done if we are gone.  The truth is, you should never consider yourself indispensable.  Not only do you need a break from your business every once and awhile, but you never know when you may be forced to take a break due to a personal emergency.  Every business has an end goal, you won’t live forever, so start prepping your team for running the business without you.
  2. You hired great people, use them:  You have spent a lot of time hiring and training the right people, so take advantage of that fact. If there is a task that you haven’t trained them on, now is the time. Test their skills before you leave, so they feel like they are prepared and can handle anything that could happen when you are gone.
  3. Set your team up for success: When you are getting ready to leave, make sure your team is prepared and have the resources they need to be successful. We’ve already established that they can handle anything, but they will still require certain tools to do so. Do you have someone around that can sign checks? How about do payroll? If there is an HR issue, do you have someone who has the capability of writing up and possibly terminating an employee? Do they have access to any software tools or utility accounts they might need when you are gone? Make sure they have a list of important phone numbers including vendors, landlords and utility account numbers. Those are all things that can’t wait until you get back.
  4. Let your customers know you will be gone: In the age of smartphones, customers are used to being able to get a response 24-7, no matter the circumstance. If you are working on a big account, warn your customers ahead of time you will be gone and who they can call if they need something. Put an out of office up on your email and TAKE ADVANTAGE of it. If you see an email come through that needs attention, forward it to your staff, but don’t respond to the customer. If you start responding while you are on vacation, you will never be able to relax and fully recharge.
  5. Set ground rules: For business owners it’s always hard to truly disconnect, especially when on vacation. Sit down with your family and create a list of ground rules that you will promise to uphold. Will you check your email once a day or five times a day? Will you take your lap top and be working on a project? Hopefully that answer is no. If know you will be craving work projects while you’re gone, take that stack of business development books that has been sitting on your desk for months. Reading is a great way to brainstorm and feel like you are being productive without actually doing real work. Whatever you do to entertain yourself, make sure you are putting plenty of focus on your family and yourself, that’s the whole point of taking a vacation!

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