Summer is a popular time for Americans to set off to their favorite vacation destinations. But for small business owners, taking time off can lead to missed opportunities and missed income.
For example, less than half of small business owners, about 49 percent, plan to take even a week long summer vacation this year, according to the American Express OPEN Spring 2013 Small Business Monitor, a survey of small businesses now in its 12th year. That’s down from a high of 67 percent who planned to take a week off in 2006 and 54 percent who said they were planning to take at least a week off last year.
It’s Important to Take a Break
One of the biggest reasons for this, ironically, is the slowly improving economy, said Alice Bredin of Bredin, Inc., small business advisor for American Express in a recent interview with Small Business Trends.
Over the last few years, Bredin said, many business owners felt they couldn’t afford to spend any time away from their businesses in a tough economy. Today, with the economy improving, there is a desire not to miss out on a single potential customer.
“The bottom line is kind of the same,” she said. Fortunately, there’s no need to spend long periods of time away from your business in order to come back refreshed and invigorated, said Bredin.
“You don’t have to spend three weeks in Tahiti,” she added. Sometimes just 48 hours or even 10 to 12 hours away can be enough to do the trick. If you are planning on getting away at all this summer, below are some tips to help your trip run as smoothly as possible for your business.
How to Plan a Summer Business Vacation
Each industry and business has a few points in the year where things get really busy. You should know pretty well in advance when you have major deadlines or big projects to launch.
Schedule your time off around these big events so they don’t interfere.
Don’t leave all the preparation for the last minute or you’ll end up trying to cover a week’s worth of work in a day. Keep a reminder of the dates on your desk so that you don’t schedule any important meetings or events for that time.
Do a little bit of extra work whenever possible over the few weeks leading up to your vacation so that you don’t get overwhelmed directly before or after.
Let People Know You’re On Vacation
Set an automatic email response telling people that you’re out of town and when you’ll return. Call the clients and colleagues you talk to most before you leave to tell them when you’ll be gone and how they can contact you in case of emergency.
Only Bring What’s Most Important
You’ll likely want to bring a few work items with you in case something comes up that you absolutely need to take care of. Only bring the most important items and leave the rest behind.
You don’t want to get tempted to work too much or forget anything when you leave.
Deciding what to bring with you can be a lot easier if you convert as much work data as possible to your smartphone, tablet or other mobile device.
Set a Designated Work Time
If you absolutely need to work while you’re on vacation, set designated time for you to do tasks like checking email and making phone calls.
You don’t want your work to completely takeover what is supposed to be a vacation.
Ask For Help
If you have employees or business partners, ask them for help with little tasks that need to be done while you’re away.
Be prepared to do the same for them whenever they decide to take a vacation.
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in your business that it’s difficult to enjoy your vacation. But taking a break from your business and clearing your head can be just as important as checking those items off your to-do list.
Make relaxation a priority and have your family members or friends you’re traveling with keep you in check.
Taking a vacation away from your small business can seem like a risky move if you’re constantly busy. But taking a break can help you to clear your head and bring a fresh perspective to your business.
Follow the above tips and your time away from your business should run smoothly.
Bali Photo via Shutterstock
Your article touched a chord. I couldn’t agree more that getting away even for a few days is almost impossible for business owners. Although I realize how important a break is, it gets impossible at times to even think about it. This is absolutely motivating.
Great tips… I definitely need them. Will give them a shot real soon.
So hard to pull away, but you have to do it. Thank you for reminding me of this.
Being in business with my daughter in a dog walking/pet sitting business in Washington DC, summers are filled with taking care of everyone else’ cats and dogs while they high tail it to the beach and beyond. Your article reminded me of how last summer we both stole away to the beach ourselves during several 12 to 24 hour lulls. It was truly a breath of fresh air. You have inspired me to make it happen again and make the time (and effort) to take another 12 hour trip away from the work-a-day world. As lipton tea once wrote on their tea bags, “The only time you have is the time you take.”