As a business owner, can you afford a holiday?
When’s the last time you took a vacation that wasn’t a major public holiday? If you’re a small business owner, chances are it has been a while.
As a category, small business owners tend not to take time off work. According to one Australian study, 57 per cent of small business owners haven’t taken a holiday in a year and 23 per cent haven’t gone on vacation in two years.
Everyone needs a break. Everyone deserves time to switch off, relax, and get away from their worries and responsibilities for a while.
So, when you’re a business owner, how do you do it? How do you make sure you can get away and everything runs smoothly? Let’s look at some options.
Close the shop
If you’re a sole trader, micro-business or very small enterprise with no employees, closing the shop for a week or two could be the best option. The same study quoted above found 22 per cent of business owners shut up shop in order to take a break. To allow this, a third of operators said they do extra work in the lead-up to taking time off. This is easier to wrangle if you have a solid stable of regular customers requiring regular services.
Delegate your job
Almost a fifth (19 per cent) of business owners will hire someone they trust to run things in their absence. The key here is preparation. Whether you’re bringing someone in from outside or asking a trusted employee (or employees) to fill your shoes, everything needs to be planned in advance. Give yourself time to train your replacement to a standard that will allow you to take time off work with confidence.
It’s a great opportunity to show your team that you value them, by giving them an opportunity to step up and take responsibility, too.
Make life easier for yourself (and avoid panicked midnight phone calls from staff) by leaving them a list of emergency contacts. For example, if the internet connection goes down, whom do they call? Far better for them to call your service provider directly than to trouble you.
Lean on your networks
Chances are you know quite a few other people who are in business, too. Perhaps it’s a family member, someone you went through university with or a trusted acquaintance from your Lions Club or your weekend cycling group. Is there someone you could rely on to keep an eye on things while you’re away?
Obviously there’s a great deal of trust involved in this scenario but with the right person with the right experience, you can set up a fantastic reciprocal arrangement that allows you both to take holidays from time to time.
Keep it quick
A good personal assistant, admin person or operating officer should be able to keep a lot of the day-to-day tasks ticking over while you’re away. They can clear your emails, take new orders, and fill your diary with appointments to discuss bigger issues when you get back.
There should be no need to come home to chaos if you’ve made the right arrangements and trusted the right people. But, if you do need to be kept abreast of developments while you’re away, carve out some set times for contact with the office — for example, a five-minute call at 10am daily or a half-hour call on a Friday morning. Providing some structure to when your team can contact you will help you relax at other times — you won’t constantly be waiting for the phone to ring.
Get your systems in place
Don’t just rely on people — have systems in place you can trust, too. For instance, does your accounting software allow you to plan your absence in advance? Does it allow your accountant to keep an eye on things while you’re away? If not, perhaps its time to change to one that does?
Perhaps it’s time to try REEP? Reep has cash flow planning, budgeting and forecasting facilities, allowing you to plan ahead and keep your accountant informed in real time. For more information and a free trial, contact Reep.