How to run your business while you’re on vacation

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Vacation time isn’t just an essential perk for many employees—business owners deserve a break, too! Vacations can be essential for revitalizing and de-stressing yourself, spending much-needed time with your family, and refreshing your mind with new ideas. There are many reasons to take a vacation, but finding the time to actually take time off is a different story. 

In 2018, TSheets surveyed 500 U.S. employees about their paid time off (PTO) and how they spend it. As it turns out, over half of respondents (60% to be exact) admitted to working while taking time off—specifically, 23% said they work while on vacation. 

For many small business owners, taking a vacation without checking in on their business is out of the question. Luckily, technology makes it much easier to check in on your business while you’re away. What steps should you take, as a business owner, to prepare for a vacation and ensure you get the most out of your time off? Let’s explore the options. 

 

Options for managing your business while you’re away

There are many reasons why a small business owner may hesitate to take a vacation. Maybe you don’t have many employees, so leaving the business would mean less work would be done. The length of your vacation may also throw a wrench into any plans, as you may not be comfortable taking more than a few days off for rest and relaxation. 

So what should you do to make sure you have the ability to take a vacation? For the typical small business owner, there are a couple options, depending on your industry, the size of your business, the number of workers you employ, and how long you plan to vacation. 

1. You can go remote with your business.

Thanks to modern technology, it’s much easier to take your business on the road with you. However, taking your business with you will make it more difficult to strike a balance between vacation time and work time, so you will need to be cognizant of your availability and create a designated work schedule that doesn’t impede too much on your relaxation or family time.

2. You can delegate essential tasks to managers or trusted employees.

For business owners who already have a management structure in place, this is an easy solution. Either choose existing employees or promote someone you trust to be a “second in command.” They can take care of the day-to-day operations and update you on a regular basis with how the business is doing.

 

Preparing your business for your vacation

Once you’ve decided taking a vacation is possible, you’ll need to start preparing your business for your absence. To start, you may need to notify high-profile clients or partners that you’ll be out of the office. That way, if they need updates on your work, they’ll know who to speak with (if you have a designated “second in command”) or when they can expect to hear back from you. 

You may also want to give these clients and partners at least a week’s notice prior to the start of your vacation. This is your time to complete any last-minute requests or updates, which can add up fast and may take up a considerable amount of your schedule. Similarly, you may also want to give yourself a few days to decompress after your trip. This buffer time can help you catch up on work that you’ve missed and feel less rushed after returning to work. 

As a final tip for preparing your business, it helps to have a list of important contacts with you while you’re traveling. If a problem occurs—such as a website crashing or some other technical issue—you can contact your on-call person to handle the situation in your absence. You may also want to print out these contacts, just in case you’re unable to get to your phone or computer or those items become lost or stolen.

 

Preparing your employees and delegating tasks

If you have a strong staff in place, then you may want to divvy out tasks to the people most qualified to do them while you’re away. Make sure people in different departments know how to contact each other and can identify who is in charge of what. If you do assign someone to be the interim head for the business, they can take on some of the more managerial or administrative tasks, like creating employee schedules and making sure employees are clocking in on time.

It will also help to keep a list of emergency contacts for your employees or your second in command. These might include building maintenance or tech personnel, so workers can call the agency you prefer for those problems. It will save them a phone call, and you’ll be less likely to have your vacation time interrupted. 

Lastly, it may help to create a list of business operations you want to be notified of while you’re away, such as sales goals, website issues, or the like. In order to avoid multiple emails per day, ask your employees to only send one daily email that contains all the updates you need. 

 

Setting personal vacation rules and sticking to them 

Once you’ve organized your business for your trip and your employees have been assigned tasks, now it’s time to consider how you will spend your vacation time while still staying in contact with the business. As mentioned, unplugging for the entirety of your vacation may not be a possibility. However, that doesn’t mean you have to stay plugged in the whole time. 

Do your best to create a set vacation and work schedule. Similar to how you may balance your life if you work from home, integrating your work into your vacation schedule can help you stay connected while also enjoying time off. If you can, set aside an hour or so a day to check in on work activity—for example, 30 minutes in the morning while everyone is getting ready for the day and 30 minutes at night to read the daily check-in from your employees. Be strict with yourself, and try not to check your emails while you’re out enjoying the sights.

Business owners deserve a vacation just as much as their employees. If you’ve been putting off taking a trip because you’re worried about your business, maybe now’s the time to take the steps you need to prepare your business for your absence. Summer is here, so whether you want to take a staycation or see the world, it’s the perfect season to revitalize your soul with some much-needed time off.