How to Take a REAL Break This Christmas
As small business owners, it can be incredibly difficult to take a real break from work for any meaningful length of time. By real, I mean one which is…
If this sounds like a pipe dream to you, you’re not alone! As Dynamic Business reports, only 5% of small business owners feel they’re able to ‘truly’ take a holiday, which they define as never checking work emails (or other messages) on vacation.
Yet, we all know the value of genuinely putting work out of our minds and reconnecting with our families, ourselves and nature for a more extended period of time. So, how can we make it happen?!
Here are some suggestions to help you peel yourself away from your ‘business baby’ this festive season and enjoy some well-earned rest…
Schedule, Schedule, Schedule
You may already schedule social media posts, newsletters, payments and other business processes from time to time, but ahead of holidays, you need to get serious about it. Ensure you have enough of the following (as required) scheduled to cover you for the entire time you’re away. Ditch any non-essential requirements from your list and pare back to only those tasks which you MUST do during that time. Great tasks to schedule in advance include;
Delegate and Automate
Look carefully at your typical weekly tasks during the time period you plan to be away. What can you delegate to a team member, or outsource to?
There are businesses (usually described as Virtual Assistants, Content Managers or Social Media Managers) who, for a fee, will manage your topline customer service during the period you’re away. Typically, you provide them with a thorough list of FAQ’s (and their matching answers), and a set of standard responses to provide potential customers who enquire via email or messenger. This kind of resource can also create and post blogs and social content for you, though you may need to approve content before you go away if the service is relatively new to your brand.
Look also for apps which automate processes you normally handle manually. Examples include invoicing apps which send automated payment reminders; ‘flow’ email managers which are set up to send sequential emails to customers based on certain behaviours; and chatbots which are pre-stocked with answers and solutions on your website or social platform.
In the first few days of Sydney’s recent 107-day lockdown, I received an email from the small business owner who manages our website content and SEO. It explained in a frank but friendly fashion that as she’d be homeschooling her two kids while working her normal full-time load for the foreseeable future, her usual level of service should not be expected. She asked that any non-urgent projects be delayed, and preempted complaints about response times by stating that she’d be working odd hours and would reply when able.
Her point was (and it’s my point here as well) that small business owners are people too! We are not superhuman robots. Other people (yes, even our customers for the most part) believe we deserve a break. And as long as they’re aware of it in advance and can work your absence into their own plans, they are generally happy for you!
So, tell everyone you’re going away! Tell them you really need to cut the umbilical cord with your phone, and that anything non-urgent should wait until you’re back. Set up an out-of-office which supports this (a bit of humour never goes astray!) and power down that laptop!
Consider Creating a ‘Work O’Clock’
We all know Wine O’Clock. Well, when you’re away, if you find it genuinely impossible to completely sever contact with your business for more than a few days, consider instigating a ‘Work O’Clock’!
What this means is that you turn all notifications off from your work email and various messaging services. Then, every day (or even on alternate days), you spend 30-60 minutes checking and speedily replying to anything urgent, while ignoring anything non urgent. It might seem counter-intuitive, but knowing you have this short period of time in which to check in on your business can make it easier to leave your phone in the holiday house the rest of the day, while you enjoy yourself!
Accept There Will Be a ‘Gap’
There is likely never a ‘perfect’ time to be away from your business, especially if you don’t have a big team to run things smoothly in your absence. It is likely you may miss an opportunity or two, or potentially have an unhappy client when you return (who doesn’t agree that small business owners need breaks too!). But you won’t ‘break’ your business. You deserve - and need - a holiday, and not one where you’re lying poolside frantically responding to Google Reviews or creating Reels on the sly while bushwalking with your kids.
Get organised, take a deep breath, and detach...
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