Do vacations terrify you? Are you convinced that the second you walk out the door, the place will fall apart? You’re not alone. Many SBOs feel that way. And the truth is that if you just take off for two weeks without any prior planning, it probably will.
So, here it is – winter in Wisconsin. You’re thinking about vacation. Or, more likely, your spouse and kids are threatening to leave you if you don’t plan a getaway to some exotic hot spot…anywhere it’s warm. Griping all the way, you will try to sneak in a few days away, lugging along your laptop, Blackberry, cell phone and briefcase.
That’s not a vacation. That’s a business trip with the family in tow. Here’s the deal. Stop right now and take the following ten-point “Business Owner’s Vacation Pledge.” It will keep you sane and your spouse from calling a divorce lawyer.
The Business Owner’s Vacation Pledge
I do hereby promise that on my next vacation…
1. I will choose something I really want to do. Vacation should not be an arduous ordeal. If you hate your in-laws, send your spouse alone and you stay home and sit around in your underwear watching sports or Oprah.
2. I will make compromises, but not concessions. If you really want to go together, work it out so everyone can have fun. Example: She wants to go to Disneyworld; he wants to go deep-sea fishing. Head to Florida, have fun together and then take two days going in separate directions – he gets out on the ocean; she gets to play with the kids at the fun park. Everyone’s happy.
3. I will start my vacation three days early. Begin to slow down and avoid that “ready-set-fun” mentality, where everyone is arguing as you pull out of the driveway. Begin to clear your schedule several days in advance.
4. At work, I will plan for my vacation. Block out the dates you will be gone, so that key projects can be scheduled around them. If possible, arrange your vacation during non-peak times. Assign tasks and anticipate snags before you leave. Also, make sure that everyone who needs to know you will be gone…knows you will be gone. That includes employees and customers.
5. I will avoid extended vacations. Like it or not, you simply cannot afford to get away for more than a week. After all, you are the boss! One popular option: Plan a series of four-day weekends or mini-vacations. Some of my best vacations were two nights at a luxury hotel a few miles from home.
6. I will leave someone in charge. That means ONE person. Important: Your designated contact person should be the only one with your phone number and the authority to contact you. If you’re a solo-preneur, just shut down and let the electronic devices collect messages.
7. I will call the office or check messages no more than once a day. Schedule calls in advance so your manager in charge can have a topic list ready to discuss.
8. I will not bring ANY work with me. Your vacation should be a break from everything, not just an opportunity to take your work to another location. No briefcase. No electronic gizmos. No laptop computer. (Okay, if you must bring it, check messages only once a day and limit business time to a specific time, such as 30 minutes a day.)
9. I will build in a buffer day on return. This lets you catch up on your schedule, both at home and at work. Recommendation: Plan to get home on Thursday. That way, you have Friday (and the weekend, if you need it) to get organized so you can ease back into the mad rush on Monday.
10. I will have fun and go without guilt. Promise to enjoy your vacation. Make it a conscious decision.
If you plan well, your vacation really can be relaxing and enjoyable, and you’ll return to work well rested and ready to jump into the thick of it again. You’ll be happier, your employees will be happier, and your family will also appreciate you more.
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