Take A Vacation Without Hurting Your Business

Barbara Weltman
©2003 All Rights Reserved

Let’s face it—you need a break. Whether business is good or bad, you need time off to renew yourself. While one-third of small-business owners fail to take any time off during any given year, two-thirds do manage to arrange things and get away. Recognize that running your business is an emotional and physical strain on you and that you need time to regroup. There are some ways to ensure that a vacation won’t be your undoing.

Schedule Wisely
While summer is the most popular time of the year for vacationing, it may not be the best time for you. Analyze your annual business activities and schedule your vacation during the slowest time of the year. Depending on your type of business, consider shutting down for a week or two each year.

Coordinate your vacation with your employees’ time off so that you won’t be left short-handed. You may want to arrange for temporary workers to fill in during vacation times.

Vacation Time Alternatives If you son’t take lengthy trips because you just can’t be away for long stretches, then schedule:

  • Mini-vacations—long weekends several times during the year to gain that time away you need.
  • Business trips with down time—add days before or after scheduled business activities to relax, sightsee or spend time with family and friends. Bonus: If the primary purpose of the trip is business and travel is within the U.S., then transportation costs to and from that location are fully deductible business expenses (only the costs related to your down time, such as meals and lodging on your days off, are nondeductible personal expenses).

Learn to delegate
Work with your staff to cover all the bases. Designate someone who is in charge and has the final word while you’re away.

If you’re the only one who knows your business secrets, things can’t operate without you. Share vital information with employees who need to know how things run. Create extensive “to do” lists so things can operate smoothly when you are away (and so you won’t be obsessing about work problems during your vacation).

If you don’t have the staff to run things in your absence, consider partnering with a competitor—keep your customers covered by referring emergencies to someone in the same line of work (physicians and other professionals have always operated in this way). While there’s some risk that your customers will switch to your competitor, there’s a bigger risk of losing them if you don’t make any provisions to help them.

Use technology to keep in touch
If you can’t bear to be too far from your business or you fear the unexpected, there are plenty of ways to say connected whil you are away:

  • Take your cell phone so that you can be easily contacted in the event of an emergency. Set limits on when you are to be called so that you won’t be bothered for every little thing.
  • Check the voice mail for your business phone. Consider using call forwarding to have office calls redirected to your vacation spot.
  • Check email. Most hotels today have facilities you can use to check in. Use Eudora Webmail, a free service, to check your e-mail from anywhere at anytime.
  • Most resorts have fax and other facilities needed to send or receive information. Learn about them before you leave so your staff will know how to use these options.

Final word
When planning your vacation, be sure to buy trip-cancellation insurance: In case a business emergency prevents you from leaving, delays your departure or causes you to return abruptly, you won’t lose the full cost of the trip.

Category: Work-Life, Balance
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