Business Owners: You DESERVE a Vacation!
Running a business is always stressful. Sometimes you don’t have some of the securities that are attributed to most employees, like a regular paycheck, paid sick leave or vacation time. It’s especially stressful if you don’t have any employees, since that means if you’re not working the business isn’t making any money. For that reason, it can be very tempting for designers to always be working!
When we talked about stress management tips we discussed the importance of taking care of oneself, especially business owners! If you let yourself get burned out, you’ll lose focus and you’ll be far less effective at running your business.
What’s a sure fire way to avoid burnout? Why, taking a vacation, of course!
By planning ahead, a designer can take a stress-free vacation without putting their business at risk! Sound like a good idea? Read on for tips on how this can be done.
When to take a vacation
Likely if you take a vacation your business will close during that period of time. So, think ahead and don’t plan a vacation around the busiest time of the year! As an designer, avoid vacations during peak home renovation season, hot home buying/selling season etc. where your services will be most required. If your business has a natural “slow season”, try to schedule a vacation around that time.
Whenever you run your own business, you should pay yourself a set regular salary as the business owner. Additional business income should then go into the company reserve and earmarked for expansion, development and/or emergencies.
If you follow this formula, you can also permit yourself a week or two of “paid vacation” each year. Financially, this is the most sound way of going about taking a vacation, because it will be factored right into the business budget.
Keeping Clients in the Loop
The vast majority of clients are intelligent, reasonable people. They should understand that as an owner (and sole employee!) of a business, you need time to recharge your batteries sometimes, just as they do.
Usually if a client becomes frustrated or irritated due to a “temporarily closed” business, it’s likely because a lack of communication from the business owner.
Be sure to give your clients plenty of notice before you close your business for a vacation:
As soon as your vacation is scheduled:
- Inform your current clients that you won’t be available for that period of time. If possible, try to include your vacation in the initial planning of your client’s project. In other words, try to have few (if not zero) items “in the air” while you’re gone. The more you can convince them you’re on top of the design project before you take off, the less stressed they’ll be!
About a week before closing:
- Call or email the clients you’re actively working with and remind them that you won’t be available during that week, but they’ll be your #1 priority when you get back;
- Consider sending an e-mail to your marketing list in case they may try to get in touch with you;
- Prepare an “out of office reply” for your emails and phone line. In this message, be sure to indicate a date when you will return the person’s message, and honor that date.
Just before closing:
- Put a notice front-and-center on your website indicating your business is closed and when it will reopen;
- Add the same type of notice on your main social media accounts (and “pin” those to the top of your page);
- Enable your “out of office” messages for your email account and phone line.
NOTE: When communicating this information with clients, don’t apologize about taking a vacation! Instead, simply own it. Yeah, you deserve a break too and you’re taking it. Clients will be happy for you!
Now, unplug for real
Have you ever been on vacation and just couldn’t resist the urge to check your emails? We’ve all done it. But in order to truly benefit from time off, you really do need to turn everything off.
Trust me, my friends. No one wants to hear this, but your emails will keep. Your phone messages will wait. There won’t be a disaster while your business is closed for a week.
If you work out of a separate office, that’s great. Leave your laptop and smartphone at the office where you’re not allowed to visit during your vacation.
If you have a home office, it can be a little trickier. Unplug your computer and put it away. Put the business phone on “silent”, and same goes for your business smartphone. If you happen to only use a single smartphone for your business and personal use, at the very least turn off the email notification icon and reminders on your phone. Please, please just… leave the email alone for a week!
If you think this will be particularly difficult for you, come up with an alternate activity to emailing. For example, every time you desperately want to check your email, you have to spend 30 minutes gardening instead. Or walking the dog, or lounging by the pool, or take the kids to the park. After a few days, you’ll forget all about that pesky smartphone, and that’s exactly what needs to happen!