Work-life balance for an entrepreneur? As Dragons’ Den star Bruce Croxton said at PROFIT’s recent CEO Summit, the typical pattern is “work your @#$ off for a decade, sell, take a year off.” When business owners do take vacation days, they tend to spend the whole time stressing about work. And that hurts a business in the long term.
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“Having a leader who is overworked, and hasn’t taken a vacation in nearly a year, is not effective for a company and actually hinders its growth,” says Brian Miller, COO of business coaching service AdviCoach. “Vacations can actually increase job performance post-trip. Plus, we’ve has found that when entrepreneurs empower their staff, the staff is more productive when their boss is gone.”
AdviCoach suggests five tactics business owners can employ before leaving on vacation to make sure they don’t waste their time worrying.
1. Plan around slow periods and stat holidays: Plan your vacation for a time when you’re least likely to miss business opportunities, directly after the busiest times or during slower months. If your business isn’t seasonal, try to schedule your vacation around stat holidays, when clients might have a less urgent need for your services.
2. “Franchisize” the business: Avoid getting bogged down by day-to-day activities that don’t generate revenue-producing results. This is why franchises are successful. They create systems that are easily duplicated and can run well without an owner on site. Putting these systems in place early will not only make it easier to take a relaxing vacation, but it will create a stronger business.
3. Prepare your team: In order for the business to function properly while you’re away, employees have to be able to make the right decisions. Let whoever will be standing in for you on projects or assignments take the lead at least a week before the vacation. They’ll be able to ask questions ahead of time and you’ll be able to relax having seen first-hand that the employee understands how to manage the project.
4. Be transparent with clients and manage their expectations: Let your clients know you’ll be gone a few weeks before the vacation in case there are any concerns. Clients should be reminded again a week before the vacation with details about who their main contact will be and which employees will be handling what tasks while you’re away. It’s crucial to reassure clients that the same level of work will be completed and that staff may reach them directly, if there’s an emergency. Follow up with clients again the day before a vacation to make sure they’re comfortable with everything.
5. Tie off loose ends: One of the best things you can do for yourself before heading out of town is to tie off as many loose ends as possible. This will minimize the number of emails and voicemails you’ll come back to. Nothing beats coming back to a clean slate after a relaxing vacation. Start by reducing the number of meetings a week before a vacation so there’s ample time to focus on projects that can be completed.