A recent survey by Simply Business revealed that 1/5 of business owners can’t afford to take a single day off in the summer holidays with a further 30% only able to take a holiday if they remain at home or in the UK. The figures are startling especially when you consider the average UK employee is entitled to 20 days holiday.
Taking a break is vital for maintaining a healthy body and mind. So, what is stopping small business owners from taking a holiday?
Missing Calls and Emails
Before you start thinking about what wi-fi access there is or how you’ll be taking calls and emails, reflect on what the realistic impact will be if you don’t take calls and reply to emails in the time you are away. Societal changes and technology advances have developed so much that people expect an instant reply. However, most clients and suppliers respect your right to go on holiday and if you let them know how long you are away, they won’t expect you to answer right away. Set up an out of office reply and update your voicemail advising when you are away and that you will deal with all messages on your return. Leave instructions for urgent enquiries. Most people are understanding!
So, you did well and turned all communications off while you went on holiday but you return to a bulging inbox. The calm and peace you felt from your break is instantly squashed.
Well, you can’t stop people sending you emails but you can add rules to your inbox to file emails in particular ways. You could set up folders for each client and direct their emails to the relevant one. Set up a rule that anything with urgent in the subject line directs to a priority folder. Most people have at least one or two newsletters they are subscribed to – you can set up a rule to delete these while you are away or again direct them to a specific folder. Redirecting your emails in this way won’t necessarily reduce them, but it might help you feel a little less stressed when you return and open your inbox.
There is no easy answer to this one and finances are very personal, but it’s always worth considering what you are spending your money on and whether you’re looking ahead through the business year. Are you spending a fortune on international roaming when you go away, greatly increasing the cost of your holiday? – Could you instead pay for someone to cover your calls and emails while you’re away, would this be more cost effective (and less stressful!) for you? Are you saving through the rest of the year to cover your normal outgoings whilst you go on holiday? This might not be realistic but it’s good to consider.
Okay, so Murphy’s law says you go on holiday and that fantastic new client decides to make contact. Again, this isn’t something you can control but you could look at the regularity and pattern of new clients you gain throughout the year and choose a time they are less likely to come to you. For example, if you make handmade gifts or jewellery, pre-christmas is unlikely to be a good time to take a holiday! As with your regular clients, out of office email replies and voicemail message can be set up, so that new client knows that you’re not ignoring them, you’re just taking a break.
Consider Outsourcing or Alliances
There are some ways that you can go on holiday and leave the business behind. You could hire a Virtual Assistant to look after the key functions of the business while you are away. A VA can look after those calls and emails, sending holding replies and prioritise the ones you need to pick up when you return. They can take that all important client enquiry and turn it in to a sale or business meeting for when you return.
Or you can build an alliance with another similar business and support each other when you take holidays, or when you have more work than you are able to manage. This can be quite effective long-term, especially if you have complementing skills. This is a solution quite a lot of Virtual Assistants use themselves!
So take that break – it’s good for your mind and body. You may even find the time away helps you find a creative solution to an ongoing problem or dream up an exciting new product!