I had a good year last year, gained some new clients, and was happily busy for the second half of the year (occasionally flat out!) When my other half suggested a holiday pre-Christmas my immediate thought was “How? I’m way too busy to take a break.” It’s a common refrain for many small business people.
Who is this post for? Small businesses (ie. microbiz, solopreneur, 1-2 people max) who feel they can’t take a break because the wheels might stop turning on their business. It only covers the tech aspects of your business (website, email, online marketing), not your ongoing clients, services and product sales and delivery.
I really wanted to spend some quality time with my partner and get away for a while. So I thought about it further and decided I could make it work. I contacted all my clients to see what their needs were in the lead up to the end of the year. Then I pushed through the workload and sent detailed instructions to my clients if they needed to manage anything themselves in my absence.
Phew. That was my priority work taken care of, looking after existing clients.
But what about prospective new clients? I didn’t want my marketing to cease while I was away. Fortunately, there are tools for that. (Or as is more commonly said these days “There’s an app for that!”)
Putting things on autopilot:
Technology is your friend when you want a holiday. (And I don’t mean using your smart phone every day while you’re away.) Here are some ideas on how to keep things ticking over on automatic while you’re relaxing by a pool, cocktail in hand.
Set an Out Of Office notification on your email, informing people that you’re on leave.
- Provide emergency contact details if you wish.
- Make sure you state when you plan to respond to their query.
- If you have an FAQ page on your website, add a link to it.
Set voicemail on any business phones explaining that you might not be able to respond immediately.
- Yes, that includes your mobile
- At a minimum, add a notice on your Contact page or your Autoresponder.
- You can set a sitewide notification via the free Hello Bar app or if you use WordPress there are similar free plugins available:
- Schedule some blog posts ahead of time (WordPress allows you to specify exactly when to Publish)
- If you don’t have time to produce long posts, throw in some short ones, even just a photo and a quote can tide you over.
- If you use AdWords, you can set automated rules to manage campaigns and ads so they start and stop according to set criteria or time limits.
- Schedule some Facebook posts ahead of time (you can do this with an app like HootSuite or Facebook’s own scheduler)
- Schedule your Tweets (I use Buffer)
What to do while you’re away
While you’re away, do as little as possible. Remember that you’re there to RELAX. Stop fretting that you’re missing out, or that your business will be doomed to failure if you don’t respond to an email or blog comment for a day or two.
If you absolutely must check-in, pick a small window (perhaps half an hour before dinner) and zip through it in that time. Then forget about it and enjoy your exotic meal in peace.
Looking for the ultimate place to switch off? Stay on Lord Howe Island for a week. Pure back-to-nature bliss and no mobile phone coverage. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Probably the only place in Australia where you are really off-the-grid.
They occasionally run a survey at the airport as visitors are leaving: “Should we bring mobile reception to the Island?” Nobody says yes.
In case you’re really freaked out by the idea of not being connected, there is limited wi-fi is available, but only at one place on Lord Howe. It’s not cheap, and not encouraged. Keep it for emergency use only.
Next time, try outsourcing
If you really feel you can’t take a break, perhaps this year you could look at outsourcing, allowing you to plan a getaway for later in the year.
Get yourself a Virtual Assistant, a social media manager, and/or a friendly web developer.
A break is good for you and for the business. If you’re well-prepared before you leave, you’ll come back re-energised to go bigger and better.