As an entrepreneur, can you take a vacation?
Do you need a break? Maybe you want to go on that awesome vacation, take a month away to refocus and reshape your business mindset, or you want to have a baby and take time off for a maternity leave. As a business owner or entrepreneur, can you really take a vacation?
Your pulse races as you think,
how can I possibly do this and keep my business running?
With proper planning, an entrepreneur can take a vacation. There is hope and you can do this!
As an entrepreneur, you need to change your mindset and plan on letting go of the daily micro-management of your business. In order to really relax you need to let go of certain items for the time away.
- Accounts Payable/Receivable
- Social Media
Do you want your calls forwarded to your assistant? Make sure the assistant has a plan in place for taking your calls. I keep an extra line for incoming calls for a client who needs phone support. I can answer the call with their brand. If you don’t need the phone answered live, make sure your virtual partner has the login information for your message system.
Give your assistant about a week prior to your leave to access to your email. Have your personal email available during the leave, but have someone else manage the business email. This frees you up to focus your energies on time away and not those pesky emails. Make sure your assistant has a branded email address to respond to requests.
Let your assistant know when you will be ready to get back in the saddle. I would leave a week between your return and scheduling appointments. This will allow you time to review emails and your assistant?s notes prior to taking meetings and calls. What are your preferences when you schedule calls? 15-minute calls with a 15-minute buffer? How long are your in-person meetings? What information do you want in the calendar item? Do you label certain clients certain colors?
Accounts Payable/Receivable Management
Make sure you have a process in place for handling payments and invoicing. Depending on the time away from your office this can be a large area of relief allowing you to maximize your downtime.
Social Media Management
This is a great time to implement a scheduling software such as Hootsuite. It will allow you to pre-schedule some content while you are away. Let your assistant know if you plan for them to monitor the social media, respond to questions or supplement with live social media posts such as reading articles and sending out links on your behalf.
Write out your editorial calendar and when the blogs need to be released. Make sure you let your assistant know how to access blog posts and your blog login information. Do you want your assistant to manage the back end of the site while you are gone? Do you want your assistant to manage comments?
Having guest bloggers during this time? Make sure your assistant knows who, what day they are to be released and the contact information of the guest blogger.
Your newsletter is an important part of your branding. You want to make sure your clients have consistency from you even when you are out of the office. Let your virtual partner know how system/process for your newsletter. Do you just do an RSS of your blog post? Do you write a personal note every week? Do you have your newsletter tied to your social media? The more information you have ready to share with them the better they can serve you.
All of these areas can be managed for a short time by another person. You might be surprised at the systems someone else can put in place for you and help you even let go of some things permanently. I keep a digital notebook so that everything I do is recorded and can be turned over to the client for their use post-vacation.
So you look at the above management items and say “Yeah, that’s great, but how do I get there?” Here is my recommended plan of action.
2 or 3 Months Before
Start your search for the perfect virtual partner around 3 months prior to the scheduled break from your business. Do your research. Ask for referrals in your social media circles. Do a Google search and look at their websites.
- Put an hour aside so you can really go in depth and look for a virtual partner that speaks your language. Do your homework on potential partners before scheduling an interview call. To maximize your time learn as much online as you can and then only interview 3 candidates.
- Most virtual partners do not like to quote prices before a consultation. Some will have set package prices. Have a budget in mind when you contact them prior to the interview. This will narrow down your field. If you are looking for someone to manage all areas of your business then plan to pay them accordingly.
- Your partner will work with you to design a package to meet your needs and your budget. If not, they will tell you up front so you can move forward with someone else. Each of the areas you add for them to manage add value to your business.
- Plan for 30-minute interviews. You should already have a pretty good idea about what they can do for you from their websites. Prior to the call give them the URLs for your social media and website so they can learn more about you prior to the call. Make sure you give them time at the end to ask you questions. The key is to find someone who speaks your language and answers the questions you didn?t even think to ask.
I recently took on a client who is taking a 2-month sabbatical. She was amazed that I asked the questions she had not even thought of.
3 Weeks Before
By now you should have chosen a virtual partner. Plan to schedule once a week conversations with them before you leave. Have them review your website and social media and look for questions or concerns they may have. With multiple short calls this gives them time to think on what they have learned and how they can best serve you.
- Start compiling your list of login information and processes. Do a rough draft and ask your virtual partner to type up the processes and start a formal operations manual. This will help you systematize and have things in place for your next break from the office. Find out more about an operations manual here.
- Start looking at your emails.
- Are there newsletters that can be unsubscribed?
- Do you want your virtual partner to delete them, file them for later reading?
1 Week Before
Have your virtual partner login into everything and test the systems. Have them start monitoring your email and calendar so they can see how you manage everything. They should adapt to your systems when possible so that everything is running the way you want when you get back to the office.
Send an email to your clients and those who need to know that you will be out of the office and that your virtual partner will be handling things.
Make sure your virtual partner has the guidelines for contacting you.
- Emergency contact number
- Email address
- Mobile Phones for calling or texting
What is your preferred contact method? Would you prefer to get a text or an email with a specific subject line so you know it needs to be addressed? Be specific. I recommend sending an action item list at the end of the day or week with specific questions to be addressed. You may get a few at the beginning but they should quickly taper off.
Test the forwarding of your phones or messaging system to make sure everything is functioning properly.
Yes! As an entrepreneur, you can take a vacation?
Trust your virtual partner. They are there to manage and they will keep you in the loop. Be patient there may be a few questions the first day but work through the kinks and make sure they know you trust them.
Let go. Resist that urge to peak at your email. It will take a few days to keep from feeling guilty, but remember, you built your business with discipline and persistence. Now you need to put that same energy into enjoying yourself. You have worked hard and deserve this break.
Enjoy your time off! Want to implement this plan? See how we can work with you!