Sunday, July 8, 2012

6 Steps a Small Business Owner Should Take to Have a Great Vacation

This past week, I took a mini-vacation, and it was stressful for me.
Often, we experience something--only to gain the insight we need AFTERWARD.

Random vacation picture taken from
Many small business owners never take a vacation, because they just don't have time.  There are just too many things to do to go on vacation.  The problem is that there is too much do to do--EVERY DAY.  If your business is getting orders--sustaining and maybe even hopefully growing--you will NEVER be able to take a vacation.

For my this represented absolutely nothing that was different.  I was stressed before my trip, during my trip, and after my trip.  So while I don't know YOUR specific problems, there is a good chance that I am feeling your pain, at least some of it.

I gained some key insight.  After going on my mini-trip, I see things that I would do different next time so that I could enjoy my trip.

Here are six (6) steps a small business owner should take to enjoy his (or her) vacation:
  1. Identify the Most Urgent Activities to Complete
  2. Plan Work in Advance
  3. Designate Work Time & Stick to It
  4. Call Other People to Complete Work
  5. Hire an Answering Service
  6. Plan Your Fun and Relaxation Time
Of course, I am going to explain each step further, but many of you might be able to take this quick list and make it work for you.

If you're curious, go ahead and read the rest of this post to get a better understanding of each step.

If you're serious about having fun on your vacation, here is what I plan to do next time.  (Hindsight is SO clear...and SO irritating!)

1. Identify the Most Urgent Activities to Complete

We all have TONS of activities that we "should" be doing, but only some of them are truly urgent.

Make a list of all of the activities that you want to have completed during the "normal" work cycle that would usually take place during your vacation time.

Ask yourself, "What is the consequence of NOT completing this until AFTER my vacation?"

If the worst-case scenario brings us something that we can tolerate, don't worry about it during your vacation.

Create a separate list of those other truly URGENT things that you need to complete.

We cannot let ourselves get distracted by sudden things that pop, like emails, Facebook messages, etc.  If we have any response, it's simply something like,
"I'm on vacation, but I wanted to write a quick note to let you know that your question/problem will get my attention when I return.  I really appreciate your business, and you are important to me.  I appreciate you letting me recharge my batteries while I'm on vacation.  I hope that you're doing well."
This is harder to implement than to suggest.  I wish that I didn't know this so well, but it's important that you limit your work to your truly urgent things that you identified in advance.

2. Plan Work in Advance

By planning work in advance, this could fall into any of the following categories:
A. Do It Yourself
B. Do the Work in Advance but Pay Someone to Implement It on a Schedule
C. Pay Someone to Do the Work

A. Do It Yourself

You need to be careful with this one.  If you plan to do the work yourself, you need to make sure that you will have the time and energy to do it.  In fact, this is the option I RECOMMEND THE LEAST.

Believe it or not, doing it yourself seems ambitious, but it's really LAZY!  It's a lot easier to avoid making arrangements in advance and "just do it myself."

Ask me how I know this?  (Yes, I AM guilty!)

B. Do the Work in Advance but Pay Someone to Implement It on a Schedule

Some types of work make this an intelligent option.

Blog posts might fall into this category, but you really could write those in advance since most blogging platforms (WordPress and Blogger for sure...I think that Tumbr does, too) allow you to schedule--in advance--when you can officially post something, even when you submit it days--even weeks--earlier.

Here are a few examples:
  • You might make videos in advance, but you can pay someone to post them later.
  • You might design an advertising flyer in advance, but you can pay someone to place order and pick up that completed order while you are vacationing.
  • You can move everything off your showroom floor and pay someone to steam clean the carpets while you are on vacation.
  • You can prepare the presentation, but you can pay someone to physically make the presentation to a customer for you.  (It helps if you warn the customer in advance, but even that is not always a necessity.)
Have I overlooked any other examples?  (I'm sure that I have.  Give me some ideas, or ask me questions?  Maybe we can brainstorm together on this. :)

C. Pay Someone to Do the Work

It's amazing how many things people--other than you--can truly do.

Some of these things will be done with lesser quality than you would do.  Ask yourself, "How often does the customer truly appreciate the difference between what I am doing and somebody else's lesser quality work?"

Many things will be done--just as well.  It's not always easy to admit, but we're not the best at everything.  We have to learn that is OK.  In fact, it is BETTER this way, because that means that we do not always have to be the person that is doing THAT something.

Some things--if not many things--can be done MUCH BETTER by someone else.  This is the BEST situation, because we pay money to free up our time to do what we enjoy doing, AND the work is done with BETTER QUALITY than if we did it.  Who knows, the customer might even appreciate that additional quality.  Okay, that might be asking a lot. :)

This is a great lesson to learn even when we are NOT vacationing, but vacation time is a great way to experiment to find parts of our business that we know how to delegate effectively.

3. Designate Work Time & Stick to It

Whatever work we are NOT delegating (meaning that we are doing it ourselves), we need to find time to do this work.

We need to schedule this time period IN ADVANCE.  If we do not, we will (almost certainly) be feeling guilty when we are not working, which is counterproductive when you are on a vacation.

For example, schedule an hour (or whatever time amount) in the morning before you begin your vacationing activities.  Then schedule an hour in the evening when you are winding down yourself for the night.

If you will have a break in the middle of the day, schedule an hour or so during then.

DO NOT LET YOURSELF WORK OUTSIDE OF THESE DESIGNATED TIMES.  Otherwise, you will become addicted to work, if you're like most small business owners.  (Our "babies" are so important to us.)

4. Call (or Email) Other People to Complete Work

This might be the best "trick" that I have to offer you!

While you are driving, identify work that OTHER people need to do before you can take the next step with your work.

Call them (or email or text them) to ask them to do that while you are on vacation.  This way, you are being productive without doing any work yourself.

Positioning yourself so that you CAN get work done is as important as DOING work.

Personally, I like the to use the telephone in the middle of the day, because I can call people WITHOUT engaging myself to my computer.  As an internet marketer, the computer is the biggest trap for a workaholic.

I like to send emails during the early mornings and late evenings.  During the middle of the day, there is too good of a chance that we will get caught in a "conversation," which is inconvenient over email.  It takes too much time, which is bad, anyway, but it is especially bad during a vacation.

If this happens, simply email, "I will call you.  I am on vacation and cannot stay by the computer."  If that person does NOT take your call, it probably was not nearly as important as you (or that other person) thought.

Try to get other people in motion to align your work for when you return.

Quick examples for me are...
5. Hire an Answering Service

I have never done this, but I see the wisdom in this.  I am told that simple answering services can be cheap.

Truthfully, I am giving this piece of advice without having done it.  I'm putting this in writing--in part--to make myself do this.

When you are taking a vacation that you want to take (opposed to one that you're forced to take), you don't want to be interrupted by anything.  It's pretty incredible how few phone calls really have to be handled by you RIGHT NOW.

Let an answering service take calls for you, and you can determine which ones really need your immediate attention.  Of course, schedule times that you will check your answering service.  Otherwise, you can get sucked into your knee-jerk reactions and (incorrectly) think that everything is urgent.

Hire an answering service and let that service do its job.  I need to do this one, too.

6. Plan Your Fun and Relaxation Time

This is similar to #3, but the focus in placed on the time you set aside for fun and relaxation.  That really needs to be scheduled, because we get too focused on our work.

Another reason we need to schedule our fun time is that this, too, can become addictive.  Once we get a taste of non-work life, it is not always easy to return to our work.

"Just a little bit longer" we tell ourselves.

So we need to schedule fun time to begin our fun, but we also need it to make sure that we won't feel guilty for it later.  We still have a business to operate, and we want our vacation experience to be great.

We don't want to resent ourselves for taking a vacation.  We all need breaks, but it's not always easy to take breaks, even when they're well deserved.

What steps do you take?  Are there any other steps that I SHOULD take that I might be missing here?

Summertime is here.  Happy vacationing guilt-free while allowing your business to remain afloat.

Like this post?  Other recent posts are

To visit The Ultimate Analyst company website click HERE.


  1. vacation for small business owner sounds good..but it is very difficult..have to follow your tips.local seo marketing

  2. I think that vacation might sound good for anyone, but small business owners tend to be amongst the worst about taking them...or enjoying them once they take them. (Like I wrote...I'm guilty!)


Hey there! Thank you for taking time to read my post and share your thoughts with me and my other readers. I'm always tickled when I get a non-SPAM comment. Honestly, sometimes I'm even okay with some borderline SPAM.

Let me know if you would like for me to address a topic by sending me an email at

Thanks, again. I look forward to seeing you soon.