getting away from it allDo you have a looming vacation on the horizon? Finally! Everybody needs to get away from it all sometimes. But as the owner of a small business, can you really walk away completely? Or will you spend your precious vacation time thinking about and checking in with your staff at all hours?

Most small business owners never truly get away from their company because they fail to plan. They desperately run out the door and pray that nobody grabs them on the way out to ask them a question. And because of their failure to plan, they waste 80% of their thoughts on their business, dreading all of the work they’ll have to do when they get back to reality.

If you plan all staffs’ vacations ahead of time, and quit messing around, you’ll have all of your responsibilities taken care of for you. And better yet, you’ll put your mind at ease.

Are you ready to take a vacation that you actually enjoy? Here are four action steps to help make it happen.

Four Vacation Preparation Action Steps

As you are about to learn, taking a vacation without constantly checking in is possible, and easy to accomplish. If you prepare ahead of time, and take these four steps, you can actually make it happen.

Step #1: Delegating Tasks

If you want your business to run smoothly while you’re on vacation, you’ll need to delegate important tasks to freelancers, part-time employees, and regular members of your staff.

You want to let loose and have fun on your vacation. How are you going to tear it up at the club if your mind is on business? That hot guy across the dance floor has been staring at you big time! He’s burning a hole in you with his eyes!

You didn’t even notice because you were too busy on your phone, or imagining your company falling to pieces in your absence.

Before you take off into the sunset, create a list of all the responsibilities that you handle in your business. And as you go through this list of tasks crucial to your operation, write down the name of your perfect replacement to handle each task while you’re gone.

You can do things the easy way or the hard way. It’s up to you. The hard way is to walk away from your business without preparing. The easy way is to write a simple list and delegate those responsibilities to your employees.

Example of Responsibility Delegation List in Your Absence:

  • Mary Jones (in-house freelancer): receptionist, photocopies, food runs, supplies, and mailroom (incoming and outgoing)
  • Barbara Smith (full-time employee): customer service, management responsibilities, and human resources
  • Mike Evans (part-time employee): accounts receivable, accounts payable, administrative assistant, and general office clerk

Step #2: Create Daily Check-Ins at Allotted Times

Are you focused on your business 24 hours a day? If so, you’ll have a hard time walking away from your company while on vacation.

To make this happen, schedule daily check-ins at a specific time every day. When you have this plan in place, you can easily forget about your company for a while and actually have some fun!

Is Taylor Swift (or insert favorite musician here) in town? Cut loose and go to her concert. Take the time while you have it.

Or maybe your favorite baseball team is playing their rival and you happen to be near the stadium? Go to the game! Live a little!

And check in with your company later at the designated time. The odds of your company falling apart while you eat a ballpark hotdog are slim to none.

Example: Schedule a daily phone/Skype call with your team at 5:00 p.m. Review the day’s events and help your staff prepare for the next work day.

Step #3: Don’t Hide Your Vacation from Your Customers

Your customers are the lifeblood of your business. Be upfront and honest with them at all times. Let them know you’re going on vacation. And let them know you have replacements in place to handle your day-to-day tasks.

As far as employee responsibilities go, use time tracking to track their hours and make sure they stay on task. You’ll feel better knowing that everything’s being taken care of while you’re away.

Example: Set up a vacation autoresponder that tells your clients when you’re leaving and when you’ll return to work. (Note: Carol consistently has the best ones – informative and amusing.)

Call or email key clients and give them a head’s up about your upcoming vacation, and assure your best customers that everything is under control in your absence.

Step #4: Set up Phone Services

Are you a solopreneur? Are you completely shutting down while you’re away? If you set up phone services, you’ll have a professional company fielding all of your phone calls.

Provide the phone service with specific instructions. Let them know how to contact you in the event of an emergency. And then get back to your vacation knowing that the pros are ready to handle your calls while you swim with the dolphins!

Example: Hire an answering service or virtual assistant to answer calls, if necessary. Or forward calls to a colleague to screen for you and answer basic client questions. Do whatever you need to do so you can disconnect and recharge.

Bon Voyage

Please consider taking these four action steps prior to leaving for vacation. And remember, you planned this trip because you needed to relax, unwind, and get away from it all. Just do it!