Summer's here, and the time is right...12 useful tips
....for dancing in the street- or so thought Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, and Mick Jagger and David Bowie. So are you going to be dancing in the streets this summer, or will you be thinking about how to juggle your business commitments and keep your business running successfully and have a holiday?
It's tempting to believe that running a small business means that you can't have a holiday or some special times with friends and family, that without you being at the helm things might start to fall apart. It's true of course that running a business is a huge commitment in time and energy, but with technology today, where there's a will there's often a way.
Not everyone will want to take their phone and laptop on holiday, some will want to switch off completely but think that it's not possible. I believe that with a lot of forward planning and organisation, it is possible to take time away from the business and give yourself and your families, a well earned rest and break. You'll come back refreshed with new ideas and lots of positive energy.
How to achieve this then? Here's what I do - it might not be for everyone but it works for me:
1) Inform current clients of when you're going to be unavailable - if possible make this several weeks in advance.
2) Give yourself a day either side of these dates, in order to catch up with last minute tasks before your holiday, and to give yourself time at the end of your holiday to deal with business tasks associated with running your business (social media, accountancy, blogs, etc) uninterrupted.
3) Schedule social media posts (not something that I personally do but it is sometimes a necessity for small businesses).
4) Clear and tidy your Inbox - very satisfying and it's then a whole lot easier to work through on your return.
5) Set up a whiteboard - put reminders and upcoming dates and workloads on your whiteboard. You then don't need to think about what's coming up when you return - it'll be all there on your whiteboard to remind you. Visually, whiteboards are a terrific help - there's something about a physical whiteboard which allows you to wipe stuff off - job done, gone! Yes, there's Trello and all that but who wants to be faffing about with that on holiday?
6) Speak personally to each of your clients the week before you go - if possible - to reassure them that you're up to date with their work and have planned in the work schedule for your return.
7) Consider emailing those clients who are always there but bring work in on an ad hoc basis - you don't want to be sitting on the beach, walking in the mountains or enjoying your glass of Cote de Provence Rose and have the mobile ringing with someone who asks if they can pop by with some work. If they've known in advance, the chances are this work will wait for your return.
8) Leave a voice message on your landline phone saying when you plan to return to work and ask them to leave a message or email you. It's up to you whether you look at those emails before you return!
9) Put an out-office message on your email account - saying when you'll be back (and remember to give yourself that extra day).
10) If you decide to use your mobile and laptop to 'keep an eye on things' be strict about timings - schedule a time for the morning and the evening and call that it - don't get stuck into the social media scrolling or FOMO!
11) Clear your office or workspace ready for your return - throw out old papers (or shred of course), tidy up - be ruthless but you'll appreciate coming back to a 'new' working space, ready to get started and enthusiastic.
12) Sort out the diary - build in catch-up time for social media and emails, networking and socialising to keep your name and the business at the forefront of people's minds, but also to make time for seeing clients, working on projects and meeting those deadlines.
So, have faith! Most clients will not disappear off the face of the earth, just because you took a holiday. With good planning and organisation and keeping clients informed, you should be able to take a fantastic break, and go dancing in the streets!