As the holiday season approaches, most of us are starting to think about planning vacations and getting away for a week or two. However, for small business owners, it can often be hard to take time away and separate yourself from your company for an extended period of time. It may seem impossible for your business to keep running smoothly without you there, but you can make it work. Here’s how:
Hire a team you trust
If you ever plan on taking a vacation (which you should) you should start by hiring the right employees. Don’t just hire people you think could do the job. As a small business, you should have people working for you that you can trust to be in charge of your company in your absence. If your team can not run the business without you, chances are that you are hiring the wrong people.
Give advanced notice
Plan your vacation as far in advance as possible. Most companies have a standard advance notice policy for vacation time – usually 2 weeks. If your team is especially small, make sure you and your team have plenty of time to prepare for all the changes that will take place in your absence. Remember, training your employees to take over your daily tasks is going to take time. Which brings us to the next point…
Cross-train and task-delegate
If you practice delegating your tasks on a regular basis, it will be easier to let other people handle your tasks when you’re not there. For every important task you do, try to make sure at least one other person in your company is trained and capable of performing that task. That way, you can count on your work to get done and depending on how many employees you have, the workload won’t have to fall on one person.
Remote access to tools and documents
Make sure to have the ability to access all important reporting, emails, and data while on the road. Remote access will be key to you being able to focus. As much as you might want to get away from it, it’s going to bug you if you don’t have a way to check on the important stuff.
Important: double-check that your remote access works from outside the office at least a week before vacation. This allows time to fix issues if they arise.
Be clear on your availability
Make sure your team knows when you will be available to answer their emails and take their phone calls. If you plan to have as little contact as possible, make sure they know when you will be able to be contacted in case they should need you. Enjoy your vacation and trust your team. You don’t need to bug them every 5 minutes, but check-in when you get the chance to make sure everything’s running smoothly.
Be available for emergencies
While taking some time away from work is healthy, unfortunately, business owners will never be able to sign off completely. If you plan on having minimal contact with your team, make sure you set up a plan for them to contact you in the case of an emergency. You should trust your employees to take care of everything, but sometimes things come up that can only be handled by you.
Hope for the best, plan for the worst
The more disasters you plan for, the better equipped your team will be to handle them without you. Think of a few worst-case scenarios that could happen in your absence and prepare your team to handle them without you. Additionally, make sure that you have steps in place to handle emergencies from your vacation location. Does the hotel have free Wifi? A business center? Being prepared is a two-way street.
Plan for your return
If you have a plan set in place for when you return from vacation, you won’t be running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to get back on track. Checking emails at the airport, in the car (passengers only please), at the beach, or during any other downtime may save you from falling too far behind when you get back. Remember, just because you check your email doesn’t mean that you need to respond.