When you’re working for yourself it can be very difficult to take time off.
So, here’s why you should take a holiday if you’re self employed and how you can make that work for you.
We’ve just come back from a holiday in Spain. It’s been the Easter holiday here in Britain and the kids have been off school. So we decided we’ll take a few days off to go and stay with family in Southeastern Spain.
It used to be the case that I’d really, really struggle to take time off because, when you’re self employed, everything revolves around you. The difficulty with that is that you can often get into the mentality that, if you stop working, the business will stop functioning.
Yes, to some extent, that’s right; but that doesn’t mean that it has to be the end of your business and that things won’t just continue without you being there all the time.
So what I want to do is to cover the important reasons as to why you should take a holiday when you’re self employed or running a small business and how you can arrange it so there is minimal disruption to your business and your income while you’re away.
So, first of all, why should you take a holiday when you’re self employed?
Well, it seems daft, but to be honest, you do need time off. Your body needs time off. Your brain needs time off.
And to be honest, if you’re constantly working and you’re constantly keeping your stress levels high, you’re seriously increasing the risk of stress-related illnesses, such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, and a whole host of other things. I wouldn’t recommend that to anyone.
Not only that, taking time out can improve your creativity.
Every single time I go on holiday, it gives me the space just to think about my work and to think about what it is we do in the business in a non-engaged way. That means I’m not having to constantly do the stuff day in, day out.
It allows my mind to wander a little bit and to come up with ideas that’s going to help the overall business picture. In all honesty, these things happen anyway and these things would happen if you stayed at home and took some time off.
But getting away from your home, getting away from your working environment, enables your brain just to open up that little bit. I always come back from holiday with ideas on how to improve, and how to change, and how to make better what we do in our business.
So, right. How can we go away without disrupting our business and without elevating our stress levels to the point where we just don’t relax when we go on holiday because we’re constantly worrying about our work?
To be honest, I know how that feels. I’ve been there so many times. I promise you, it is destructive rather than constructive, and you waste a good opportunity to have some time off. So let’s get cracking.
First things first, you should always let clients know that you’re taking some time off.
Now, interesting enough, I used to think that the clients would be panicking, and worried, and that things would fall apart because I’m on holiday. But the thing is, your clients expect you to go on holiday.
I promise you, they go on holiday as well, so why shouldn’t you? It’s a normal part of the working world that folks take time off. They go on holiday. They go and do this stuff. Go and take the family to wherever. Everyone does it. So you letting your clients know that you’re going on holiday is going to be no surprise to any of them.
I used to get asked, “When are you taking a holiday? You never seem to take time off?” And that was from my clients. They were expecting me to take time off. So, first things first, let your clients know that you’re going to be away.
Now, an addendum to that is to let your clients know if you have any availability at all.
If you aren’t going to be fielding calls or returning calls if people leave you a message, that’s fine, but let people know. Typically, when I go on holiday, I check my work email every few days, not necessarily do anything, but just to keep tabs on things that are happening and, if necessary, forward things on to the team so they can tackle it, or just let a client know, “Yes, I’ve got no problem with this, but I have to tackle it when I come back.”
There’s nothing wrong with that. If you’ve let your clients know, as I’ve said, that you’re going to be on holiday, most folks won’t be bothered by that at all. But you need to be clear on your availability.
Now, if you are going to field calls from people, you need to be clear on when you’re going to do that. Set yourself a timetable. It could be that, at the end of every day at four o’clock, you just pick up your voicemails and return a couple of calls.
Job done, working world out of the way, back to holiday if you choose to do that.
Another good thing to consider is to schedule your marketing.
If you go on holiday and you have things like social media that you do, you can use a tool like Hootsuite or Buffer, and they can schedule out your social media broadcasts pretty well.
If you use an email marketing system, again, you should be able to schedule that out to go out at some point while you’re on holiday. So the marketing can continue while you’re away.
Something that I’ve gotten particularly good at is to get someone else to answer the phone, largely because, when I’m on holiday, I don’t really want to be tackling stuff. I don’t really like to be interrupted that much by work if I can avoid it.
So, if you can get someone else to answer your phone, that will benefit you no end. There’s loads of call answering services. The chances are good from your networking that you know a virtual PA who could perhaps field some calls for you. Or you just get yourself a virtual number and put that out, forward your mobile phone to all of these places, etc.
The key is this, if you’re constantly having to answer the phone while you’re on holiday, it’s not going to feel like a holiday. Been there, done that, not funny.
So I would always urge you, if you’re going away for more than just a few days, get someone else to answer your phone. Even if it costs you a little bit, it will mean that your business continues.
There’s that continuity of business and that’s what we often stress about as self-employed people and as owners of small businesses. It’s that continuity. If I take time out, it’s all going to fall apart. So get someone else to answer the phone where feasible.
Also, if you do field calls and you can’t get back to people, make sure that you promise to get back to them and then do it.
One of the biggest frustrations we have in the business world is when somebody promises to give you a call back and they simply don’t. I don’t know whether that’s either they forget, or it’s just not important enough to them, or they go off and do other things and it completely leaves their mind, and it makes you feel unimportant.
In our world, where customer service is a particularly high requirement because of the nature of our business, and building websites, and helping people with marketing, online marketing, etc., we have to respond to people. Oftentimes, we can’t take calls, but we always make sure that we phone people back.
So, if you promise to call people back, and you should, make sure that you do it.
Finally, if you are going to take a holiday, make the effort to relax. Make the effort to switch off. Make the effort to not be thinking about work.
Spend some time with family, and friends, or whatever it is you do. Wherever you go, go and be in the moment simply because, if it all fell apart, it’s memories like that that will make all the difference.
I know it sounds kind of fatalistic, but at the end of the day, we should not be living to work. We should be working to live.
Where’s the point in having the flexibility of running your own business and being self-employed if you can’t enjoy the benefits of that? So I would urge you to make the time and practice the time to take relaxation and holidays as much as you possibly can.
If you are wanting customers to start talking about you, either when you’re home or away, check out my blog post that may be of some help….