This was originally published on AllBusiness.
If I had a quarter for every time I’ve heard a small business owner say, “I’d love to take a vacation, but I just can’t leave the business,” I’d be able to fully fund the trip to Italy I’m taking this month.
If you’re one of those folks who insists that in no way can their business run without them for even a day, I hate to burst your bubble: your business can survive without you for a while. Set your ego aside and join me in recharging and rejuvenating. You can thank me later.
A Little Planning Goes a Long Way
In addition to running my content marketing firm, I love travel. Love it. So I’ve mastered the art of leaving my business for weeks at a time (or taking it on the road, since I can be a digital nomad), and I want to help you do the same.
Consider what work you’ll miss while you’re gone. If you’re in a services business like me, you may have certain projects with deliverables that are due while you’re away. If you run a retail store, you’d miss out on potential revenue unless you have employees to run the store in your absence. (They’ve got it. Trust them.)
If you’re a project-based business, chances are you could work in advance to finish what’s due. A little extra work every day could free you up for several weeks of sunning on an Italian beach, in my case. Otherwise, see if you can put off deadlines until you return from your well-deserved vacation.
When You Take a Vacation From Your Business, Time it Smartly
Here’s a great trick: if you don’t know when to take a vacation and want to minimize the disruption, go around a holiday. You’ll find that many of your clients take time off in the summer and during the winter holidays, so if you do, too, no one will even notice you’re gone.
Put Trust in Your Staff
If you have employees who will run your business during your absence, the first step is simply trusting that someone other than you is capable of doing so. If you’re Type A, this will be a struggle. You may feel like no one can run your business as you can.
The fact is you’re wrong—at least in the short-term. If you have a manager or other leader, schedule some time to discuss which duties you need them to take on to keep the business running smoothly. Talk to your other employees to let them know that you will be completely and utterly unavailable for the duration of your vacation.
Read that again: Completely … and utterly … unavailable.
This goes hand in hand with trust. If you want your staff to feel like you trust them to continue in your absence, you can’t provide a safety net by being a phone call away. They will figure out solutions to any problem without you around.
Let Clients Know You’re Out
It’s professional courtesy to let your clients know you’ll be out of the office so they can plan accordingly. Rather than them being annoyed, you’ll probably find them jealous, and talking travel can spark some fun personal dialogue that will help you build your relationships with clients.
Set your autoresponder to let people know when you’ll be back, and do the same with your voicemail message. If you have meetings scheduled, be sure to cancel or reschedule them well in advance.
If You Do Have to Work …
Okay, so I know not all of you are going to adhere to the aforementioned policy of being unavailable. I will, however, challenge you to be less available. Turn your notifications off on your phone so you can enjoy the uncrowded streets of Rome. Allot an hour or two a day to check email and put out any fires. You’d be surprised how quickly you can finish work tasks when an Aperol Spritz is waiting for you!
Remember Why You Need to Take a Vacation From Your Business
Once you get through the logistics of taking time off and/or putting someone else in charge, remember why you’re taking a vacation. Maybe you’re burned out from working long hours or you just haven’t felt passionate about your business in a while.
I know firsthand that these situations can drain you of energy and make work no fun at all. But I also know from personal experience that stepping away from your business and recharging through travel is one of the best ways to clean the slate and come back enthusiastic and brimming with ideas about your biz.
Running a business can be rewarding, but it’s not your entire existence (or shouldn’t be). Remember that living life the time you’re not in the office is what you’ll remember at the end. What do you want your life to look like when you’re rocking in your chair at 150 years old? Will you remember the long hours you put into your business or that amazing pasta you had in Calabria?
As for me, I’m betting on the latter. Ciao!