Gavin Macomber is the CEO of Cloudli.
Small-to-medium-sized-business (SMB) owners are notoriously vacation shy, and for a good reason: Leaving your business behind, even if only for a few days, can present a multitude of challenges, spanning from customers experiencing hiccups to internal crises and lost revenue. It’s no surprise that one study found that 66% of SMB owners report that it’s difficult to take time off from work for a vacation. But when closing up shop isn’t an option, and entrepreneurial burnout sets in, what’s a small-business owner to do?
You might be surprised to find that the key to getting your well-deserved vacation on the books isn’t careful scheduling or cross-training your most reliable employees to cover your duties (assuming you’re not a sole-proprietor). Instead, based on my experience creating communication solutions for businesses, I have found that planning strategically, using communication tools and setting goals for your getaway will ensure you get the most of your next vacation.
Challenge: Your vacation time gets eaten up managing your business from afar.
Solution: Limit your work hours by setting “office hours” and plan strategically.
Once you’ve committed to a vacation, you’ll need to commit to your work/life boundaries for your vacation. Unplugging completely, for most, isn’t an option. Determine what’s reasonable and realistic for you and set “office hours.” Clearly communicate to your employees that your “office hours” are your availability (save for emergencies) for work-related topics and that outside of these hours you’ll be going off the grid.
Delegate to managers and create a system where you can quickly monitor progress. There are various apps and programs available that allow you to view the history of customer communications at-a-glance and see the progress on tasks that you’ve delegated.
Creating a clear and concise schedule and communicating your boundaries and rules surrounding your relationship with your business will help you and your staff understand the expectations in your absence.
Challenge: You spend your vacation tethered to your phone because it’s your business’s lifeline — or worse — you avoid vacation altogether because disconnecting doesn’t seem possible.
Solution: Consider a business phone app.
Whether you’ve utilized your personal phone to mitigate costs or simply haven’t found the time to explore unified communications as a service (UCaaS), one option is to implement a communications strategy that includes a mobile-first UCaaS solution.
Mobile-first UCaaS solutions use smartphone, computer and web apps to let users receive business calls and texts from a dedicated business phone number with a separate app on their mobile device. And since UCaaS enables shared business numbers, any team member can respond to customer inquiries.
This makes it easy for the first available team member to pick up the thread and respond. When you’re on vacation, there’s no need to call or text your team to see if customer inquiries have been responded to by staff.
In choosing a UCaaS vendor, make sure the company and plan are tailored to your business’s objectives. Understand your needs and select a vendor that meets them. Once it’s set up, UCaaS platforms are very intuitive, therefore sending and receiving messages should be simple.
Challenge: You return from vacation more tired and stressed than when you left.
Solution: Set vacation priorities.
Perhaps you’re in desperate need of a vacation because you need more quality time with your children or partner. Or maybe you simply need a staycation to catch up on personal tasks that you haven’t had the time to complete. Whatever the driving force behind the need for your vacation, make sure you set your priorities for your time spent away from your business.
If your goal is to spend quality time with your child, set and communicate your priorities. Block off time on your calendar (personal and work) to remind yourself why you’re taking time off and subsequently commit to disconnecting, even if for a few hours.
With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to take a worry-free vacation from your business and return rested and recharged.