How to get a proper holiday (even if you’re a one man band)

What is it with business owners? They just don’t seem able to switch off and enjoy some spare time.

Many business owners complain they can’t find the time to get a holiday… then when they do get a few days off, they spend it worrying about the business, constantly checking their emails. It’s crazy!

In fact a recent survey found that just under half of all business owners who are planning a holiday this year also figure they will be in touch with their business.

39 per cent of them planned to call a couple of times during their break; 25 per cent would be in touch once a day and 23 per cent anticipated being in contact several times a day.

This is a serious problem. When you constantly push your mind and body to their limits without taking adequate breaks (as many business owners do in the first few years of a new venture), you are not only risking your health but your productivity.

Problems seem bigger when you are tried, and opportunities go unseen. As hard as it is to do, even a couple of days off can bring immense benefits to both you personally and your business. A change may be as good as a rest, but you can’t beat totally switching off for a few days.

So practically, how do you do this – especially if you are a one man band, meaning you ARE your business?

Here are a few Bytestart suggestions:

Shut your business

In the world of 24 hour business, surely this is too radical a suggestion! But depending when you do it, it’s possible to close down for a few days without anyone noticing. For example, most businesses are closed the week between Christmas and New Year, and on Bank Holidays.

Few people will notice if you add a few days on to a break around these times. At Easter, you could take the Wednesday and Thursday off, giving yourself a six day break for the “price” of just two days off. August is also a good time to shut down for a week, as many customers will be on holiday with their children. You’ll know the times in your business when customers are quiet – use that as your time off.

It’s important to inform regular customers in advance that you will be closed, and tell them what they should do if they need you in an emergency (a mobile number will be fine). It would also make sense to divert your phones to a call answering service, so any new leads that come in have a human to speak to rather than an answerphone (a big ‘no no’ in this day and age).

Rely on technology

The internet has made it easy to run many businesses from any location anywhere in the world. It’s so simple to receive and deal with email on cheap portable devices like the BlackBerry and iPhone. Laptops are also cheap and mobile internet means you can have a very reliable internet connection in most civilised parts of the world. You don’t even need to worry about accessing all of your business data. There are plenty of free services around such as LogMeIn, that allow you to get hold of data remotely.

If you’re going to work on your holiday, try to get into a routine of doing your work for no more than two hours first thing in the morning. That way you will have the rest of the day to enjoy yourself, without all those work tasks hanging over you.

Rely on professional service

There are hundreds of professional services than can make it easy for your business to seem open while you are actually away. Firms can answer your phones for you in your company name, and virtual PAs can manage your diary, plus ensure that important things happen such as paying key invoices.

Get someone else to run your business for you

If you need more than virtual help or you have a physical business such as a shop, then perhaps you should consider taking on an apprentice or temp that you can entrust with the business.

This is a risky tactic, so where possible hire someone you already know and trust. It’s better to trust your livelihood with someone who is trustworthy but not dynamic, than someone who is really good in the business but might do some damage in your absence!

There are professional “temporary” managers called interim managers. However they are typically used by larger businesses to manage the gap between one managing director or CEO leaving, and the next one starting. You may find an interim manager too expensive and “overqualified” for some holiday cover.

Team up with indirect competitors

Of course wherever you have a problem, the chances are, so will someone else. And that creates an opportunity for you. There may be another business owner out there who is also struggling to take a holiday. It’s possible they could provide holiday cover for you, on the understanding you do the same when they take a break.

This can work out very well for both businesses and is extremely low cost. But it can be high risk. Ensure you are dealing with an indirect competitor – for example someone who does what you do but in a different town far away (meaning they wouldn’t want to steal your clients). In this kind of arrangement trust and transparency are everything.

Bytestart Limited info@ByteStart.co.uk

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