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Top tips for keeping your business running smoothly whilst you’re on holiday

image - Top tips for keeping your business running smoothly whilst you’re on holiday

So you’re a business owner and you’re daring to take a holiday? Brave move. But will you be working on holiday, or taking a much-needed break?

In an ideal world you’d like to switch off, keep the family or your friends happy, or if you’re going to somewhere remote to know that your business isn’t going to stall when you can’t access the internet.

Or are you not taking a break at all because you’re worried your business will grind to a halt when you’re gone? You wouldn’t be alone – 76% of small business owners forego holidays to make sure their business keeps running (Source: OnePoll survey for Xero).

The happy news is, it can be done. You can take a break – with a bit of forward planning. You don’t need to be a slave to your business and it’s really important to recharge your batteries.

The benefits of taking a break from your business

The benefits of having a break without worrying about your business are:

  • You can reconnect with your family/friends and pay them full attention
  • Your family remember who you are!
  • You get to unwind, relax and sleep properly
  • You get to have some guilt free ‘you time’
  • You get some headspace to think about your business
  • You may get some perspective on issues or suddenly think of new ways of doing things

Top tips for planning for the business free holiday

Top tips for keeping your business running smoothly whilst you’re on holiday

1. Choosing a good time

You may be restricted to when you can go on holiday, but picking a time of year when it’s quieter generally, such as August, when lots of other people are on holiday can reduce the impact of you being away.

Or if you travel for work, can you piggy back a few days or more off the back of that?

2. Prepare in advance

There’s nothing worse than working until 2am in the morning on the day you’re going on holiday trying to get everything sorted in your absence. And that’s before you’ve packed or worked out where you last put your passport.

Start making plans at least two weeks in advance, ideally four weeks to give you plenty of time.

N.B. Don’t start any major projects, or go-live dates or marketing campaigns before you go away – you’ll get buried in last minute queries or issues.

3. Tell your clients you will be away

Let your clients know you will be away, so they won’t wonder why you’re not replying to them and deal with anything that is likely to crop up whilst you are away and let them know what to do.

For some this will be a simple email letting them know of the dates you will be away and what they should do if they need help whilst you’re gone.

If you have clients you are working with or supplying product with on a regular basis, you may need to have a conversation with them about what will happen whilst you’re away.

4. Identify any problems in advance

Is anything likely to go wrong whilst you’re away? Have a think and then plan to work around it. E.g. is a supplier likely to not deliver when they should.

Confirm with everyone what needs to happen when you’re away. This may mean speaking to your suppliers as well to let them know and to see what issues if any may arise when you’re gone, or what they need to do if something happens that they may need to deal with. For example, is it worth putting the customer and supplier in touch with each other in case of issues?

Another top tip – if you are going somewhere remote with no internet access and you think you may need to make an urgent call – take a paper list of the contacts you may need to call and some brief notes. That way you if you stand a chance of getting to a phone, you can make the calls without having to rely on technology.

5. Automation

Automating your processes can be very beneficial. Not simply for when you are away, but in general day to day business life. This could be a good time to start if you aren’t already doing these!

Automating processes can cover a number of things:
– Having an out of office email that lets people know when you are away, and when you are back and you can use it to give them an alternative email or telephone number to use if necessary.

– If you don’t have a business partner or staff – Do you have someone who can keep an eye on your business whilst you’re away? A person who understands your business and can be called on to help. And you can offer to help them out when they’re away. This can work particularly well if you are in a franchise or in an MLM group such as Forever Living when others know how the business works.

– You could use a telephone answering service to handle any phone messages from prospects for example.

This requires some preparation too. What type of calls are they likely to get? And what do they need to do? It may be simply to take a message and to let them know you will contact them on your return, or it may be a standard email with a brochure attached. Is there a form they can use to collect the right information for you?

– Perhaps you have a VA who can manage this for you.

– Or set up forwarding rules on your emails, so that all your emails go to someone else to monitor and take action on in your absence if necessary.

– Social media planning

There are lots of tools out there to help you keep your social media active when you’re away. Fill up Hootsuite/Buffer/Social Jukebox with tweets for the time you are away.

Or there’s a cunning tool called Meet Edgar that not only manages your posts (on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as examples) but re-uses the information again for you so you’re not constantly having to fill it with new data. You do have to pay for it, although they do offer a 30-day full refund

– Automating your mailing system (MailChimp, or Active Campaign for example) where you have already in place newsletters or blogs that go out at scheduled times so they will still go out when you’re away.

– Invoicing – Get your invoices prepared for before you go away – you can send them on time delayed emails so they go out the day you need them to.

– Or if you are using an accounting package like Xero or Quickbooks – they have an automated chase function so that clients or customers get an automated reminder that invoices are overdue so you don’t need to worry about chasing down the invoices.

6. Use your staff

If you have staff, this could be the perfect time to empower them.
– Identify all the things that may need to happen whilst you’re away.
e.g. have good client notes so that anyone else can pick up when you’re away.
If the client is likely to contact you, identify what it is, and what your staff need to do.

It’s really useful for your staff to take responsibility if they haven’t already got it – for you to trust them to do the job properly. It empowers them and they feel important and trusted.

– Let them know in what situations they can contact you. N.B. this should only be for emergencies.

And it’s good preparation for the future – a small test run if you like to see what went well and what more you need to do in future so that you can give them more responsibility all the time – taking the burden off you, allowing you to spend more time working on your business.

– Ensure there is an even spread of holidays – depending on how many of you there are, keep overlaps to a minimum, certainly in similar roles so there are no gaping holes in your business that clients or potential prospects can fall into because there’s no-one there to help them.

– This is the time to make sure you have documented processes so everyone is operating in a consistent manner.

Make use of shared tools such as Dropbox or your CRM system so that everything is kept in one location and there is no duplication of documents or information. Make sure of course that the right people have the right access.

If you absolutely, positively, have to have a safety net because worrying about what’s going on is going to cause you more stress a) you haven’t planned right and b) allow yourself to check your emails once a day but don’t reply to them! Don’t make a rod for your own back.

With the right planning and preparation – you can have a lovely, stress-free break.

What other hints and tips can you share? Post them in the comments box below.

Bonne vacances!

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About the Author:

About Karen Espley, blogging for The Chameleon GuideKaren Espley of The Chameleon Guide works with ambitious small business owners on her Profit Accelerator Programme. She brings pragmatic and real world advice in a group setting to help her clients make a significant difference to their business through increasing profits and running a highly effective business.

Offering workshops and group profit programmes for companies wanting to reach their full potential.