Entrepreneurs: Learn How To Take A Vacation This Summer Without Feeling Guilty Or Fearful About Your Business
The vibrant month of May brings with it warmer weather, the winding down of the school year, and with Memorial Day, the unofficial beginning of summer. Inevitably, as we start to plan out our next couple of months, everyone’s thoughts turn to that American tradition of Summer Vacation. Well, make that almost everyone. According to a recent Gallup poll, 20% of small business owners did not take any vacation days in the past 12 months, and another 21% took one week’s worth or less.
The study further reports that business owners who do not take vacation are significantly less satisfied with their work-life balance than their counterparts who do take the occasional vacation.
If taking some occasional time off correlates with a higher degree of lifestyle satisfaction, why then do so many business owners choose not to do so? There are many reasons, ranging from budgetary concerns, to apprehension about missed business opportunities, to a lack of confidence in employees’ ability to cope in the owners’ absence. The primary reason, though, according to a separate survey fielded by Staples, is an ominously all-encompassing “fear of unplugging.” Many entrepreneurs are simply too afraid of what may happen when they’re gone to take the chance to disengage.
Following are 4 tips to give entrepreneurs the confidence to cut the cord for a week and take that much-needed vacation:
TIP #1: Know Your Key Metrics
Business owners should be tracking their business health metrics on an ongoing basis anyway, with a simple dashboard of Key Performance Indicators which they know drive successful results. Yet many do not have this practice in place, and this can contribute to their fear of letting go for a few days. The simpler and more habitual your tracking is, the more confidence you will have to know that you can step away for a moment without the world ending.
TIP #2: Assign a Backup
Even though business owners take accountability for all that goes on in their business, they simply can’t be on call 24/7/365. It just isn’t sustainable. Therefore, it is critical that the business owner have a trusted backup support system in place, often their senior-most employee. If you don’t have an employee whom you can trust to handle things for a few days in your absence, then you might want to reconsider your hiring practices, training practices, or performance management system. Hire someone you can trust, and then actually trust them to do their job in your absence, at least for a few days.
TIP #3: Set Up “Rules of Engagement”
Although most experts would recommend complete disengagement from work for at least a week at a time, some “Type A” personalities will actually rest easier knowing that they have set up decision rules with the office. . . so that they’re confident that their staff will contact them if there’s something that truly requires their attention. It may be as simple as setting up a rule “If daily sales fall below X, or our customer satisfaction index drops below Y, call me immediately.” Many leave behind a list of “Emergency” topics, with explicit instructions to interrupt their idyllic vacation if (and only if) issue X, Y, or Z comes up. The key is to make sure the guidelines are very clear, so that the employees know exactly what is expected, and you as the boss can have the confidence that you’ll get the call if needed, so you can actually relax if you don’t get the call.
TIP #4: Hold Yourself Accountable
As entrepreneurs, sometimes we’re our own harshest critics. We’re tenacious in our pursuit of success, and in our earnest desire to provide outstanding value to those whom we serve. But just as we hold our staffs accountable for coming through for us, we must also hold ourselves accountable for pausing to “sharpen the saw” from time to time. We need to ensure that our vacation opportunities are some of the “Big Rocks” that we plan around. (Read your Stephen Covey, if you’re not familiar with what I’m referring to!) We know intellectually that if we don’t disengage for a while, we wear ourselves down, and we diminish our productivity over time. We do both our customers and ourselves a disservice if we don’t take the occasional break, so it is important that we as business owners hold ourselves accountable for making the choice to do so.
So, go ahead and take that vacation – it’s good for you! And even if budgetary constraints make it a “stay-cation”, the important thing is to disengage from the workplace for at least a few consecutive days. If you really don’t feel confident enough in your ability to get away this Summer, then mastering the four tips above should get you on-pace to take a break during the Fall or Winter. And hey, South Florida is a paradise that time of year anyway!
Ellis Mass is a Certified Business Coach with FocalPoint Coaching, where he helps smart business owners and leaders to accelerate their success. He is an award-winning marketer and business strategy expert, with over two decades of experience in working with Fortune 500 companies. Connect with him online on Facebook or through his website: http://ellismass.focalpointcoaching.com/pages/solutions
[Adapted from an article by Ellis Mass, “Can Entrepreneurs Take Summer Vacations?”, originally published in The Parklander magazine in July, 2015]