Let’s be honest, while owning a business means you can – in theory – take a holiday when and where you like… the reality is somewhat different. You are often limited to shorter breaks because of important things that are going on in the business, and you probably find that you are caught between relaxing and checking emails, or even taking calls.
Taking a holiday as a business owner may seem challenging, but with proper planning and management, you can enjoy a well-deserved break while keeping your business running smoothly. Here are five essential tips to optimise your holiday experience:
- Time Management for Peace of Mind
It might sound counterintuitive to talk about time management when you are trying to relax on holiday but stick with me. If we operate on the assumption that you’re unlikely to go through the entire holiday without hearing from the office, and if you did, you’d probably be concerned about what was waiting for you on your return, it’s wise to plan in some interaction time.
The way to prevent this from totally disrupting your holiday is to schedule a specific time, or times, in the day when you will check emails and anyone with a concern or query knows it’s ok to call you. This requires discipline of course, not to answer the phone or check your emails outside of this time, but hopefully the knowledge that you have set this time aside each day will help you to relax and make the most of the times in between.
How much time and when during the day will depend on you, the demands of the business, and your family or whoever you are on holiday with. Communication is key here, I would suggest agreeing this with your employees before you go away to make sure everyone is aware of your wishes and are therefore more likely to stick to it.
- Deputise to Empower Your Team
One of the biggest challenges to getting a relaxing break as a business owner can be the amount of people that need you to make decisions or resolve issues. This could be a great opportunity to develop your management team – after all, a strong management team is a great asset when it comes to selling your business. Putting one person in charge in your absence can be a great way to see how they get on and give them useful experience. Of course, you will want to put some controls in place, for your own peace of mind if nothing else. This could take the form of a daily briefing phone call either at the beginning of the day, or the end. As a result, decisions that need to be made can still be made and the business continues to function, difficult decisions can still be referred to you, but you have only one person contacting you and at a pre-agreed time.
- Schedule and Plan Ahead
If your diary is anything like mine it may often feel as though it has a life of its own, and that doesn’t always match with your capacity, or the number of hours in a day. This can make taking a holiday difficult and daunting – but all the more reason to schedule, plan and take back some control.
Make sure your holiday dates are blocked out in your diary well in advance and clearly marked as holiday – this should reduce the number of people trying to book you into meetings. A week before you go, make a list of everything you need to do before you go – and either make sure you get them done, or hand them over to someone else. If this is a long list, it is also worth going back over it and critically evaluating whether anything can be left until you get back. Make sure anything you are leaving until you get back is properly recorded and scheduled in, so you don’t worry about forgetting it on your return.
- Be Proactive with Communication
Most people, clients included, feel really bad about disturbing you on holiday and would happily wait until you are back – but only if they know you are away. Make sure you have your out of office set up for your emails and consider adding your upcoming holiday dates to your email signature – a really good low-key way of letting people know. In some circumstances it may be sensible to proactively tell people that you are going to be away, they are more likely to respect your time off or may raise some issues you can deal with or delegate before you go.
- Embrace the Importance of Rest
There is a temptation for business owners to get wrapped up in the day-to-day demands of the business and they can only see the potential problems of not meeting those demands, this leads to a feeling that you can’t possibly take a break. But everyone needs a break to function at their best, even business owners. You need to give yourself permission to take a break and recognise it as just as important, if not more important, than all the other competing demands on your time.
In conclusion, taking a holiday as a business owner requires effective time management, delegation, and proactive planning. By adopting these five tips, you can enjoy a rejuvenating break while ensuring your business remains on track. Remember, taking care of yourself ultimately benefits your business in the long run. Happy holidays!