There’s a misconception that online business owners don’t have the luxury of disconnecting completely from their business. Well, I’m here to tell you, you definitely can! To make it real and practical I actually went on vacation so that I can share some of the practical things that I did for my business. I am hoping that by sharing these tips you’ll realize that you can take a real vacation from your business.
I am sharing the things that I did to ensure that I enjoyed my well-deserved time off without being constantly tethered to my phone, trying to figure out what’s happening in my business. In order to take a real vacation from your business, you definitely need to do a lot of planning in advance.
Reasons why you should take a real vacation from your business
Rest happens in the resting phase
I recently saw a post on Instagram, where someone asked; What if you actually needed to take time off to rest in order for me to be more productive? And that totally resonated with the book a have been reading i.e. the 5:00 AM club. The author, Robin Sharma talks about growth happening in the resting phase. Growth actually happens in the resting phase as opposed to the performing phase of your business when you are in the throws of the daily hustle and grind.
Why is that? Reflect back to when you have come up with the most amazing ideas in your business. Think about when you have come up with those amazing kick-ass strategies that have seen you level up income in your business. When have those ideas come up and when have those plans come up?
They’ve probably come up when you’re in solitude and quiet. As opposed to when you have been so busy working on that to-do list and trying to get all the tasks done. That’s why it is important to take time off to rest and to review and think of your business. You don’t need to do anything formal like writing down notes or work on your laptop.
Use the time off to totally disconnect so that you can take time to reflect and think of;
1. What has worked well in your business?
2. What could you maybe do differently?
3. What are those ideas that you could come up with during that time of rest and minimal distractions from the outside world to make your business even better?
It’s an opportunity to uncover your team’s strengths
It’s also an opportunity to stretch your team and uncover strengths you never knew were there. Here’s how. You have a number of tasks that you do as the CEO that you’ve never delegated to your team members. Going on vacation is a great opportunity to know if they could actually do some of those tasks once you assign them to your team.
You’ll be able to see what will work because they are going to have to do those tasks, whether you are there or not. And maybe they might not have access to ask you questions and to get clarification. It’s a really great way to see how they work under pressure and when they are stretched.
You might come back and they’ll tell you that they actually enjoyed a specific task, which would be a plus for you. Because that would be one less thing for you to do. And one thing for your team members to do and to do really.
You only have one life to live. If you are going to live your life, working all day, all week, all year long, where is the fun in that? Right. You want to be present as a mom if you’re a mom. You want to be present with your family if you’re going to taking time off with them. It’s the only way to enjoy the things in life that you actually started your business for.
A lot of us started our businesses to get more freedom. Location freedom, time freedom and to have more flexibility. Now, if you are not taking time off, you are not having freedom. You just replaced your 9-5 with a business that probably takes away more freedom than when you had your 9-5.
How to prepare your business for an actual vacation
Tip 1: Plan, Plan & Plan
The first thing is you want to do is plan your vacations well in advance for at least two to three months. That way you have time to make sure you’ve prepared your business for when you actually take that time off.
Go through your list of tasks in your work management space, and it’s also an opportunity to do a task audit. This will help you identify the tasks that are solely on you to do, and what could you possibly automate or delegate.
I know sometimes it’s difficult to know what you could automate because you don’t know what you don’t know. Maybe you don’t know that some of the tasks you’re doing manually can actually be automated. Feel free to reach out to me here once you’ve done your task audit and I could share a few tips and pointers on what you could possibly automate.
Tip 2: Work on your tasks upfront
Put in some time every single day for at least a month or two weeks to work on the tasks that you typically do upfront. There are a lot of tasks you can actually batch upfront without even having to delegate or automate them.
And the one that comes to mind right now is content creation! Content creation can be done upfront you don’t have to do it on the go. You actually shouldn’t be doing it on the go, because that is when you can have a major content burn.
Think of other tasks you can do upfront, like client deliveries. You could probably move the dates forward so that you can finish some of the deliveries in advance. Consider completing some of the milestones of your projects so that you don’t have to work on them immediately after you come back from your vacation.
Tip 3: Systems to support your business while away
Ask yourself what are the systems that your business could use while you are away? Systems are a long haul and a long-term game. It’s not something that you can wake up today and have a fully-fledged system tomorrow. It’s something you need to think of upfront.
But there are certainly certain activities you can do upfront before you take a real vacation from your business. This will sort of set the wheels running in getting your systems in place. And maybe you already have systems in place. For example, a client management system that you use to automate your client onboarding and management process. But there could be certain things in your client management system that you could optimize to make it more efficient.
If you don’t have any systems in place, think of some of the tasks that are critical in your business. Especially income-generating activities around lead generation, client management & onboarding and how you can potentially automate a few of those tasks upfront.
Like I said earlier in this blog, you don’t know what you don’t know. I would love to have a chat with you once you have figured out the priority tasks in your business. The tasks that you potentially need to have automated and tech to help you support your business while you are on vacation.
Business activities that could be automated
Email marketing is an area that requires system support while you take a vacation is your email marketing system. You can definitely schedule your emails to be sent out to your email list while you are away.
Lead generation & tracking
You can set up an automation so that your lead generation spreadsheets are updated while you are on vacation from your business.
Set up an automation to manage any inquiries made about your services while you are away. Your business doesn’t have to come to a halt just because you are taking time off.
Tip 4: Automate and or delegate
Be very careful around delegating versus automating because there’s no need to delegate tasks that can be automated. That is going to be a waste of time on your team while you are away. Try not to delegate tasks that you could automate. If you aren’t sure that you can automate them, let your team members research and see if there’s any way, they can automate some of these tasks.
There’s one thing that we recently automated in my business. At the back of my mind, I knew that it could be done I just hadn’t done it. Every member that joins our Facebook group they are meant to get added on to our email list. Previously, the process was manual where we had to copy and paste that information from Facebook group onto our email list.
So, a few weeks ago as I was preparing to take a vacation from my business, I created automation with Zapier and Flodesk i.e. my email marketing system. Now every time someone joins our Facebook group, they automatically get added on to our email list. And now my VA has saved close to an hour of her time every week trying to do this.
It’s so important to also look at your systems from that point of view. That way you can free up time with your team and have them focus on the more higher-level activities that actually require human interaction and engagement.
Tip 5: Set an autoresponder
The next step is to set your autoresponder responder. Make sure you have a solid, auto-responder. Be very clear on when you will be away and who can be contacted while you are away. If there are any frequently asked questions around your services, include them in your autoresponder.
Include details on where they can find out about your services by adding a link to your website. You can also embed your service guide or just attach it to your autoresponder so that people can have a look at your services while you away. And make sure it is very clear whether you are going to be partly available or not available at all.
When I started in my career, I was terrified of including that I wouldn’t be available for emails on my out of office email. I then realized that if you do not set your boundaries right, people are going to step right over your boundaries.
And if you indicate that you won’t be available for emails, that doesn’t mean that you’re going to lose out on potential clients and leads. That could actually be an indicator to your potential leads that you’re actually a woman of integrity. And you know how to manage your business and they might want to learn how you’ve been able to do that.
Don’t be afraid to set your boundaries in your autoresponder or on your out of office email. Because that is literally going to set the tone for how you enjoy your holiday or not.
Tip 6: Communicate with your team
Communicate with your team and let them know what you are going to do upfront and what they need to do. Delegate your tasks as early as possible, lean into your SOPs. If you don’t have SOPs create simple loom videos. These will help your team members understand what the tasks are about. That’s probably the fastest way you can delegate tasks in a way that there are not going to be left trying to figure out how to do it on their own.
When you come back, make a point of creating documented SOPs around these activities. That way that the next time you take a vacation from your business, it will be easier. And you won’t have to do a lot of legwork upfront.
Tip 7: Trust your team
Trust your team members to handle things while you are away. I know a lot of us are superwomen and supermoms we want to do everything our way. Sometimes we don’t have sufficient trust in our team members to be able to handle things. But trust me, everything is going to be okay.
Trust and empower your team members and they are going to deliver. And most likely they actually going to over-deliver and you will be blown away at what your team members can do in your absence. So, don’t be afraid to delegate.
Tip 8: Set your boundaries & eliminate guilt
Make sure you set your boundaries when it comes to your team. I’ve already talked about setting boundaries in your autoresponder but make sure you set your intentions and keep them.
For me, my intention is at least in the first three to four days of my vacation, I am going to completely switch off from social media. And my VA is going to manage my social media platforms on my behalf. Your VA can help you engage with people on your behalf, they can help you manage your Facebook community if you have trained them upfront on how to do it.
My plan when I take a vacation from my business is to switch off completely from social media. This allows me to zone in to just being present. I zone into thinking and reflecting on my life, my business and anything else I want to reflect on while I am away.
Eliminate guilt by doing work upfront. A lot of times we don’t set boundaries because we feel guilty! We feel guilty that if we don’t check our emails or respond to a client inquiry within a certain period of time, things won’t work out or things are going to fall apart.
But if you do the work upfront, you will be able to set your intentions and boundaries and keep them. You’ll remain true to your intentions while you are away on vacation from your business. And while you are.
Tip 9: Take a day off once you’re back from your holiday
You don’t want to return from your vacation and the next day you are back in the throws of the day-to-day activities of your business. Take time to ease your way back into work. And this is something that I was intentional about. On the first day, I eased my way back and I took the day off from my 9-5 as well.
I use this time to check my emails, plan out the rest of my week, review anything that I need to review, check-in with my team members and my clients. This way you don’t have to have that sad feeling that your vacation has ended and you are back in the day-to-day hustle and grind. Just ease your way back in and feel more in control when it’s time to get back to work.
I hope this blog inspires you to take a real vacation from your business soon. Plan out your vacation and spend time with your family and friends and yourself too.