It’s really hard for small business owners to take time off and really switch off from their businesses. That said, unless, you need a break as much as any employee. If you do have to work over the holidays, perhaps because you are in the hospitality sector or any other that requires attention 365 days a year, then you need to make up for it with time off afterwards. You need to get into the spirit of the season and be refreshed and ready for the challenges of a new year of business.
So how can you take time off without losing custom? Like most other things, success is all about planning and organising in advance.
First you need to think about how to ensure that all your orders will be fulfilled before the holiday starts. Can you do it with your current staff numbers or do you need to arrange for any temporary workers? Don’t forget to allow a little extra time for those inevitable late orders that arrive just when you think it’s all finished.
Next, it’s how to manage those all-important telephone calls and emails. To avoid putting prospective customers off with a voice-mail message, can you arrange for calls to be forwarded to another responsible person when you are not available? Hiring a virtual receptionist for a few days may be affordable and could pay for itself in retaining customers or acquiring new business. You could enquire with your outsourced bookkeepers whether that is a service they offer, or whether they know of a reliable source.
Whether or not someone else is fielding your calls, plan a specific hour for each day to check if you need to respond to messages left in the last 23 hours. Having this small window of time for work will make you feel more comfortable about not being available during the working day. The actual time may have to be a bit flexible to accommodate your family or leisure activities. When you do contact your callers, unless it’s a real emergency, don’t commit to anything that will interfere with your planned time off. People will understand if they are told you are on holiday and will get to it when you are back in the office, and they will appreciate you taking the time to inform them. Make a note in your diary of when everything is promised and make those promises a priority when you are back in harness.
Whatever methods you organise to cover your absence; do take our advice about having a break. Whether it is your custom to celebrate Christmas or any other religious festival, take some time off and enjoy it.