Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Business & Leisure Quandary:

5 Tips to a Stress-Free Vacation

A true vacation is tough for many small business owners and managers who feel the need to relentlessly check e-mail and texts from the beach. Many fear of missed opportunities, employees slacking off, or that business will not operate smoothly when they are away.

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In a recent survey commissioned by Sam's Club, nearly 50% of small business owners only take major holidays off (if any days at all). And when they do find time to relax, many still find themselves attached to their laptops or smartphones and taking calls.

However, taking a vacation is an important component to avoiding burnout, relieving stress and re-energizing creativity. Here are a few steps that you can take to help you achieve a more enjoyable (and much deserved) vacation.

5 Steps to a Stress-Free Vacation

1. Plan your vacation around slow periods in your business
For those owners and managers who fear that going away will wreak havoc on the business, experts suggest scheduling a vacation in a historically slower time for your company. These ‘slow periods’ depend on your industry. If you are a florist, taking a vacation during any holiday season may not be ideal. However, if you have an office job, holidays may be the best time.

2. Tie up loose ends and complete any big projects
If you must, stay late for a couple of days and make sure that any big projects that you are working on are completed before you leave for your vacation. Not only will you have less weighing you down when you're away, but if you're able to start fresh, you'll also have a smoother transition back to the office.

3. Empower your employees and delegate
Put a good plan in place with your employees and don’t forget to delegate tasks and responsibilities. Start handing off assignments early so you can answer any questions well before you leave. If certain aspects of the business are of particular concern to you, ask for brief daily emailed updates to keep your mind at ease. 

Do not assume the worst, trust your employees.

If necessary, pick the right person to manage your small business while you're on vacation and train them to do it ahead of time. You should do this even if you're not planning a vacation just in case you are unable to work for some reason.

4. Set a Schedule (to check in, if you must)
If it makes you feel more at ease to keep tabs on things, set aside specific times during the day to check e-mail or make calls. But stick to only those times. For example, check your email first thing in the morning before your kids get up.

Use technology. It is your friend.

Many business owners and managers are able to take advantage of current technology and take their work with them when they travel (just in case something should come up). As long as you can work remotely and are vacationing in places with acceptable technological resources (such as electricity and wireless Internet) you can use your smartphone or laptop/tablet to check in.

Many business phone systems also offer advanced call routing so you can have calls forwarded directly to your hotel room or cell phone. You can even customize your settings by day, time and caller.

5. Manage Client Expectations
Tell any clients that you work with directly when you will be taking vacation well in advance so you can address any concerns before-hand. Also, inform them of who they can contact in case a question or issue should arise while you are away.

Planning a stress-free vacation takes a little planning on your part, but it will be well worth it in the end. And once you have your processes and procedures solidified you may be surprised by how many more “vacation” days you could actually take (and enjoy).

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