Biz Ladies: 5 Steps for Enjoying a Worry-Free Vacation


Today’s Biz Ladies post comes to us from Natasha Vorompiova, he founder of SystemsRock, architect of business systems that work, and a Certified Book Yourself Solid Coach.  Her clients are small business owners who start their businesses with passion and a desire for freedom, but find themselves stuck and buried in day-to-day operations.  Natasha creates systems that ensure clients get more done in less time and pave the way for greater profits and long-term success. Today she offers some advice for how to take a vacation and not worry about your business back home.  Thank you, Natasha, for sharing this encouraging advice! –Stephanie

Read the full post after the jump…

You’ve been waiting for it all year, and now summer’s finally in full swing.  But. . .

Fears are creeping up on you, waking you up in the middle of the night.

Can I really go on vacation without ruining my business?  What if I take my finger off the pulse of my business?  Everything’s going to collapse if I’m not completely in control.  I’m the only one who can keep things running smoothly.  Maybe I should just keep working.

These are just a few of the things that might be running through your mind.

What’s so frustrating is that one of the reasons we started our own businesses is because we wanted to enjoy a lifestyle that grants us flexibility and the freedom to escape the daily minutiae.

The good news is that you can enjoy an amazing summer vacation and your business can run smoothly while you’re gone.

1. Prep for It

Make a list of all your regular activities and do as much advance prep work as possible.

  • Continue publishing your blog posts, vlogs and newsletters while you’re away by prewriting or prerecording.  Consider repurposing content you’ve already created, especially if it’s on topics that resonate with your readers.

WordPress makes it easy for you to preschedule your content to go live on a certain date.  E-mail management systems allow automatic distribution of your newsletters.

  • Keep up your social media presence even while you’re away by using Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule in advance your tweets and updates. Even if you don’t log on to engage in live interactions, you’ll still be adding value to your tribe by posting prescheduled content.
  • Check your clients’ deadlines and make sure you meet them before you leave.

2. Befriend Technology

Use technology to help run your business and even put certain aspects of it on autopilot:

  • If you’re using an online scheduler like Schedulicity, Acuity Scheduling or TimeTrade, block your schedule for the time you will be away so that your clients don’t accidentally schedule themselves during that period.
  • Automate certain aspects of customer support (e.g., questions about your policies and practices) so that clients and potential clients can find easy answers to their questions.

Before you go away, review questions that you answer over and over again.  Turn them into an FAQ page and upload it to your site.

  • If your clients are paying for your services in instalments or are charged a standard recurring fee, use platforms like Freshbooks and Zoho, which allow you to automate the process of sending out recurring invoices.

If you collect payments via PayPal, an alternative route is to use the Subscriptions or Recurring Payments feature to automatically collect those payments without your involvement.

If your order processing is automated, test it to ensure that it accurately relays essential instructions, produces necessary confirmations, and delivers the products as intended.

  • Don’t forget to create an out-of-office auto-reply so that anyone who emails while you’re away is immediately notified that they won’t hear back from you until you return.

Specify the date you will reply by so people know when to expect to hear from you.   Make that date at least a couple of days after you come back, so you have time to get to their e-mail!

3. Hire Help

You can find very affordable help.   Besides, if you’ve taken the steps above, you’ll just need an assistant to keep the day-to-day operations running smoothly, not a replacement for yourself.

If you haven’t delegated much or have been burned delegating, here are a few helpful tips:

  • If this assistant is a new addition to your team, make sure you hire them well in advance of taking your vacation.  Even a capable person needs time to learn the ins and outs your business and ways you like things to run.
  • When qualifying your potential hires, give them test projects so that they can demonstrate their skills.
  • Find simple ways to explain your processes.  For example, you may use free software like Jing to record your screen as you show and narrate how you do something.
  • Be clear when explaining what you need.  If possible, give examples of the outcome you want.
  • Specify when assistants can make their own decisions. You don’t want your assistant to feel like they need to run every step by you.  Cultivate the leader in them by giving them the sense of ownership of certain responsibilities.   Do it gradually, but do it!

You might not believe it, but going through the process of preparing certain areas to be delegated, will help you organize your business in the most thorough way.

4. Give Everyone a Heads Up

Don’t just fall off the face of the Earth.  Think of people who need to know that you will be away and out of communication:

  • Clients
  • Contractors
  • Partners
  • Friends

People love feeling that they’re in the loop, so make sure you let them know ahead of time that you’re taking time off (and when).

5. Prepare Yourself to Let Go

Leaving your business for the first time is always very unsettling.  It’s like leaving a baby.  But your business—like your baby—benefits when you go away.

Prepare yourself for the emotional experience of letting go.

You’re going to be tempted to keep checking your inbox and jumping in to solve an issue (that you’ve already taught your assistant how to handle).  Prepare to resist!

Even if you haven’t planned for a specific situation, let your assistant take the ownership and resolve it.  If you’ve notified the people who need to know that you are away, they will be reasonable, even if a crisis occurs.

Trust that while you are gone nothing will happen to your business or the relationships you’ve established, especially if you’ve optimized your systems and/or trained your assistant.

If something happens, consider it an opportunity to fix the system that wasn’t properly set up or tested.  It’s actually a great thing!  It could prevent a larger crisis down the line.

C’mon!  Allow yourself to unplug, relax, and enjoy!

If you’ve checked off the items on the above list, you are perfectly ready for your long awaited, well-deserved and worry-free vacation time.

Back to You:

What items from the checklist above need your attention so you can take a carefree vacation?

 

Dorothy Collier

This is great! As a full time artist, with tons of commission work via Etsy, it’s hard to put my painting on the back burner for a couple of days! But staying up to speed on Instagram (@dorothyart) and Facebook helps, making it feel like you haven’t abandoned anything. It also rained a ton at the beach last week, so I actually did get some paint time in!

Christina

I still have to pre-write my blog-posts. I already have a plan when they will go up and which topics they will cover, but it’s rather hard to concentrate on them as I know I still have some weeks to do them. I also try to have some patterns in a state where only knitting is required so that I can take them along with me (I know it’s work, but the relaxing bit).

Jen

This is a fabulous list, Natasha! I’m going away for a week soon and will actually be bringing my laptop. I’m hoping I can do some “fun” writing while I’m gone but I’m sure I’ll still work on some things.
I do think it’s important to let your customers know you won’t be available. My friend’s book publisher moved offices, went offline and without phones for two days. She was panicked that they had gone out of business. If they had simply let their clients know, it would have made a huge difference. Common sense.

Victoria Prozan

Great advice Natasha. You hit the nail on the head with “one of the reasons we started our own businesses is because we wanted to enjoy a lifestyle that grants us flexibility and the freedom to escape the daily minutiae”. You’ve given me hope that stress free vacays are possible. Thanks!

Jill

This is perfect timing for me. Thanks so much for the great tips and especially the software I wasn’t aware of.

Natasha

Awesome tips, Dorothy!

Andi, that’s the hardest for me too :)).

That’s a terrific practice to write your posts in advance, Christina! And so smart to do some groundwork first, to the point where you can take the pieces with you and complete them at your leisure! Excellent tactic.

Natasha

Jen, that’s a great example! And I agree, we don’t have to be completely in ‘I-am-not-working’ mode. It’s all about having a choice :)

Absolutely possible, Victoria! Looking forward to catching up with you one of these days.

Happy to hear that you enjoyed and found helpful the article, Jill! :)

Emma Gwillim Life By Design

Thanks Natasha…. The impatient part of me always wants to be being “busy and productive” and for a long time I didn’t see that spending time being less “busy” on getting things running smoothly (particularly “befriending technology”) made me more productive in the long run. Simple things like getting consistency over my blog posts – at one point I was checking back to previous posts until I invested time in creating templates for things. Although I’ve no holiday booked, I love your advice for simply making better use of my time!!

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