There’s an old joke about entrepreneurship: one benefit of starting your own business is you can set your own hours. Pick any 100 hours of the week you want, and work them. While that may be true when you are starting a business, you should be able to get away once you’ve built your team, right?
Not always. Sometimes having a bigger team just means you have more questions, issues and problems. The team isn’t able to keep things going completely; they still rely on you to make the critical decisions.
But you need a vacation. Like, really. You do.
“Research shows people who take regular vacations are less likely to be depressed, less tense, and they returned more refreshed,” says Carol Rich, a licensed clinical social worker.
Are you going to argue with research like that?
Start with short breaks
One study found that most of the gain in happiness comes from the anticipation of time off. Planning a vacation and looking forward to going away creates positive feelings that endure much longer than the actual break. So take a long weekend, plan it in advance, don’t make it complicated – just get away.
These short breaks are good chances for you to train your staff about how to successfully work in your absence. Just as you are making concrete plans for the fun you will have, make concrete plans for work too. In the time leading up to your vacation, start coaching the team, “If I’m off on vacation, how would you handle this?” It gives you both a chance to rehearse – for them to build their confidence, and for you to realize that they’ll be fine (or put boundaries on where their experience isn’t there yet). You might find that they need access to different information, or you need to write down a flow chart for how you make certain decisions. Each of these steps is a move toward growing your business!
Then when you are going to be away let people know. If you have clients or partners that rely on being able to get a hold of you let them know you’ll be gone, and you won’t be answering work calls on vacation. Point them to staff members who can handle their requests, or let them know you can talk with them when you return. Don’t schedule a day full of meetings for when you get back – you’ll need some time to work through the backlog of calls and issues (at least the first few times).
It wouldn’t be unreasonable for you to plan a long weekend 4 − 6 times a year. It would be good for you, and your team.
Work your way up to longer breaks
Short breaks are fine, but there are benefits to longer breaks as well. Shorter, well planned breaks make you happier, but longer time away lowers your stress, and helps you to live longer.
“Statistically, people who have relationships and (hobbies) outside work, tend to have overall better physical health and taking a vacation allows you time to focus on those,” says physician Tomas Foster.
Another doctor, Dr. Angela Oostema, puts it even more bluntly, “We know that individuals are less likely to suffer from a heart attack the more vacation that they take…And for women, those that take infrequent vacations are eight times more likely to develop heart disease and two times more likely to develop a heart attack.”
To take a longer break might take more planning and preparation of your team. You might need to think about resources that your team could use if they need help or backup. Would your accountant, business advisor or another business owner be willing to take calls, or sit in on a status meeting or two? Being gone for longer means you might need someone trained to make deposits, write checks or do payroll. These are all big steps – but ones that you are going to need to take as your business grows.
Ok, I’ve made my case here; vacation is good for you and good for your business. So where are you heading next?
Photo Credi: Chi Bellami