One of the hardest things for entrepreneurs is getting time off. If you’re self-employed, you don’t get holiday pay (unless you pay it to yourself) and it’s hard to give yourself true headspace or switch off fully.
When your business relies on YOU to run smoothly, taking weeks off can disrupt your workflow and even if you have a workforce, can you truly be out of contact for a couple of weeks without something going wrong? It’s your business and reputation to maintain after all…
It might not be the easiest challenge of entrepreneurship to overcome, but everyone deserves and needs a true break sometimes.
With summer often being a quiet time for some industries it’s often a good time to go away and if you can find a way to have a summer switch off, you may find you come back refreshed, revitalised and full of ideas to lead you into the latter half of the year.
Here are some ideas from business owners who’ve achieved that to help you take a break from your business for a couple of weeks…
If this summer has crept up on you and you can’t see how to get two solid weeks off without losing momentum and dramatically impacting your cash flow, then use this time to plan for next year.
Aimee, an accountant from Somerset says:
“I wanted to be able to go to a friend’s wedding abroad the following year and knew I’d need to not only save for the trip, but also save the two weeks of earnings I’d lose not working. I worked out how much I’d need to save to do that and put that money aside into a separate savings account. I took on some extra work over the next 12 months and was able to take time off and enjoy the wedding without worrying about money. I now do it every year.”
Tell your customers in advance
Fear of losing custom long-term because of a short-term break from your business is understandable. If they go elsewhere, they may not return and when you’re self-employed it’s easy to be in the mindset of always-on, always available but Katy, who runs a digital agency says setting boundaries made the world of difference:
“I told my clients three months in advance that I wouldn’t be contactable for two weeks as I was going away with my family. I made it clear who they could contact whilst I was away, and that now was a good time to make sure additional projects were briefed in so they could be delivered in time without disruption. Setting boundaries made it easy for them, and easy for me. I don’t know what I was so worried about really, they were actually pleased and excited for me, and we picked up some extra work that made a big difference to our cash flow ahead of my holiday!”
Delegate effectively to avoid contact
One of the common complaints my business-friends make about taking a holiday is that they’re tied to their phones and have to check their emails daily so don’t really get to switch off.
According to Jason, who runs a plumbing business, that’s a choice, not a given:
“To be honest I’ve never really understood how that happens to my mates who own businesses. Firstly, you can turn your phone off or remove your emails. Secondly, what’s the worst that can happen? If you trust your team, you shouldn’t need to worry about that. And thirdly, if you employ people, use them! Delegate your duties for the time you are away and do a good handover. It’s not rocket science.”
Outsource if you can’t delegate
Solopreneurs might be rolling their eyes at the suggestion of delegating their duties. To who? The cat?
Just because you don’t have a team doesn’t mean you can’t outsource some of your work temporarily whilst you’re away. Of course, there’s a cost implication, so weigh up whether it’s worth it like Sophie, a marketing strategist from Surrey who says:
“I’ve taken time off successfully by outsourcing some of my workload to freelancers. This worked well when the break would have meant losing more money than the cost of outsourcing. I did the math for my last holiday and it didn’t make financial sense to outsource, so I didn’t. I think some entrepreneurs forget that they have options, and that they can choose case-by-case. They don’t always have to do what they’ve done…”
Batch and automate your marketing
When I wanted to take three weeks off to travel to Thailand, I decided to write my blog posts, emails and social media posts in advance for the time I was away and schedule them out on a regular basis during my holiday. I set an out of office and automated messages on my Facebook page to let people know I’d reply when I got back and it was fine. It was a bit of work upfront, but it meant I could still maintain some of my marketing and keep my brand presence up.
Set an out of office that people can relate to
“Some of the best advice I had was to write a personal out of office for holiday time,” says accountant Ricky from Leeds.
“I said something along the lines of…‘I’m at the beach with my two little ones and my long-suffering wife. I’ll be back on the 20th and promise not to bore you with stories of sandcastles and sunshine when I pick up your email!’. I had quite a few replies from customers asking about my trip and my family and giving me kudos for having a holiday! No one was upset or concerned that I took time away to be with my family, because I work with nice, regular folk!”
If you’re taking a summer break from your business this year, we’d love to hear how you’ve done it, and what’s worked for you. Share your strategies with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.