The last half term has passed us by for this school year and it will be the summer holiday in ‘only’ six weeks’ time, seven for some! Not long, is it? While children, no doubt, are looking forward to the time off, it can be a frantic time for parents who are employed, let alone run their own businesses.
Now is the time to be thinking about what you need to put in place to ensure that this year is not as exhausting as previous years and that you have some time off to be with your family and enjoy it, without constantly checking emails, your phone or regularly saying ‘I just need to finish this, I won’t be long’.
What kind of things should you be thinking about?
Emails and phone calls:
With advancing technology we are all expected to answer phone calls and emails instantly in business hours, and sometimes outside too! Most of your clients will understand that holidays will be taken during your contracted agreement, as long as you communicate clearly and advise on cover arrangements while you are away, they will understand.
Set up an out of office for your emails, with details of when you will respond or who to contact in your absence.
Do the same for your voicemail message on your landline and mobile numbers.
Remember to leave instructions with your cover on how to handle emergencies.
While you are away it doesn’t mean that your social media posts have to stop. Spend some time planning a week or two weeks’ posts, depending on how long you are away, and set them up via Hootsuite or Buffer for the time that you are away.
I am sure you won’t be able to resist checking in sometimes, so will be able to reply and retweet when you feel like it!
If you receive sign-ups or sales requests via your website, you can set up or amend your current Autoresponder for the time you are away. While there may be a short delay to the order, most customers will be appreciate being kept informed.
Cover for your business:
This can be the elephant in the room for many small-business owners, who is going to look after my business as well as me? Can I actually take the time off? This part of holiday cover is something that you could be thinking of throughout the year, while networking and working with clients or other business owners.
You may meet another business owner that has the same ethics and standards as you; you might feel that you would be a good fit. You may have completed projects together and know that they would be a safe pair of hands to leave your business in, it could also be reciprocal, you never know. Have a chat with them, see what kind of response you get, it good be something that they have been thinking of too, you may be surprised if you take the plunge.
You could out-source particular elements to a Virtual Assistant, for example, checking emails, picking up voicemail messages and covering social media.
This is one of the support options that Virtual Angels offer:
Case study: for the six-week school summer holiday in 2016, we provided inbox management for a communications specialist who wanted to take the summer off to spend with her daughter. We set criteria to follow together: with urgent enquiries being texted through, all other emails were acknowledged, dealt with or parked for her return. There was a short text update at the end of each week on a Friday. The holiday cover worked well: she has since returned to use our services for additional support for her business and recommended us to a colleague, who has also engaged our services.
If you are thinking about the holiday as a dark cloud looming ahead of you and are not sure what to tackle first, do give us a call and we can chat through your options.