Taking a vacation as a tiny biz owner

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Are you a business owner and are terrified to take a vacation? Let’s talk about taking maybe a whole week off from work. What does that look like for a talented, tiny business owner? What does that look like for somebody who’s a one-person business? To someone who’s running the show by themselves. Maybe you have contract people that work for you, or an employee or two. Maybe it’s just you. What happens when you know that if you take a week off of work, work will come to a halt in your business?

Once upon a time years ago, when I first started in e-commerce, people would actually put up on their websites: “I’m out of town for these two weeks.” We all know that does not happen anymore. If you do have only something like an Etsy shop, you can put it on vacation mode. But typically that also is not the best way to do things. I get it.

For years, in my having an e-commerce shop, it was terrifying to be gone for an entire week because you usually have to ship within that timeframe if you are product-based. But what I discovered over time was that there were a few things that you can do to prepare. The idea is for you not to enrage your clients or coming back to a mountain of work.

The first thing is that we all know how excited we get about going on vacation. In the week before you leave, you get more work done than ever before. In fact, I often think if we could trick ourselves into thinking we’re going on vacation, we’d probably get all the things done on a regular basis. You do tend to want to button things up and check things off that list before you go that way. It makes you relax. So of course, use that feeling and drive to your advantage and get as many things as you can get done ahead of time.

The second is to be batching and scheduling ahead of time. I do know many people who create content as part of their marketing plan, who create content months in advance so that they can actually pick up and leave for vacations guilt-free. There are people who take the whole summer off! They do this by preparing months in advance and batch the content ahead of time. So maybe each week when they’re doing their blog posts, they’re doing two blog posts.

When I’m in a podcast season I do this. I batch the episodes so that I’m not having to necessarily scramble if something happens on a week that I can’t do things. You can use this same idea to plan things like blog posts, podcasts, social media posts, a lot of your marketing content ahead of time. The third thing is To actually have somebody come in and kind of sub in for you.

These days, I tend to travel apart from my husband because we have very difficult rescue dogs. And it’s often just easier if one of us is home with them. This also has made my life easier in the past with work. When I have traveled for a week, I, for example, printed and created a manual and trained Adam on how to fulfill orders. If he really came into a problem, he could call me and I’d walk him through it, but he was able to mostly figure it out.

I also, at times have hired somebody that has come in and handle fulfillment. Usually, it was somebody that worked part-time for me already, so that they’re slightly familiar with the process. Another way to do that is if you have a friend (I’ve done this too), who is in a similar business enough that they are somewhat familiar with the software you use, you can trade with them. If you have to ship orders, then they can often come in and help, and then you can do that for them so they can go away. So that’s a third really great way.

The fourth is more for services, not product-based businesses. Simply tell your clients that you’re going away for a week. Obviously, you’re not going to have somebody come in and work with your clients. So communicating ahead of time, communication is key. You can have an out-of-office email set up and you can let people know that you will be gone ahead of time.

The fifth thing is that you can take one hour a day to check in with your emails and things like that. Sometimes checking in just a little bit or taking one day of the vacation, if you’re taking a full week where you’re going to do some check-in time for a few hours, will help you with that peace of mind.

But know that you can take a vacation. You can take a whole week off. The world will not fall apart. Your business will keep moving. You will not completely let everything go.

What are some things that could happen that really freak you out? Okay, something goes wrong and you can’t fix it. Guess what? On your phone these days, as we all pretty much have smartphones, especially if you’re running a business, you can use that to communicate with people. If there is a problem, they will understand.

If you’re a tiny business owner, your customers and clients most likely are supporting you and are okay with your taking a vacation. The problems arise when you’re not communicating that you’re unavailable. As long as you’re communicating, you’re usually fine. Even if you’re not going to reply, just check, stay on top of things.

You also, as we have talked about in number three, could have somebody that you have back at home in your workspace, who can also communicate for you if needed. But I know a lot of us like to be that person communicating. The other thing that could go wrong or that could come up that could really stress you out is let’s say you get an opportunity for some great press and you’re not there? More will come. It will not be the end of the world if you miss it. And hey, what have we learned from the pandemic?

You can take a random video of you for a press thing, or send an email from wherever you are. Nobody has to go in and be at the place. So if somebody wants you to appear on, let’s say a talk show or something like that, and you’re out of the country. Maybe they’ll let you send in a video. You’d never know.

The worst things that could go wrong, a fire, a flood, something gets lost. All of that can be handled via your phone. Have a person you trust who can be on-site if needed. Make sure you leave a key somewhere hidden or have maybe code to your garage or to your office, if somebody needs to get in there, they can. But just think about all the things that could go wrong. And then think what will I do in that case? That helps me. If you’re not somebody that thinks about the worst thing, don’t bring on anxiety in this. But if you are an anxious person, think about those things that go wrong and then have a plan for it. It will help you relax.

Most importantly is to remind yourself that it’s okay for you to take a vacation. I hope you do and enjoy it.

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