The day is here! You are living out your dreams, running your own business, and have the most flexible schedule in the world…so you thought. We dream up in our head this incredible life where we run our own business full of free time, flexibility, and the ability to take time off whenever we want! While this seems incredible, in many cases this is the furthest thing from the truth when we have a business to run. Most of the time we can hardly take a weekend off let alone an entire vacation?!
While I am the first to admit I work on my business when I need to be taking time off for myself (nights, weekends, etc.), I LOVE traveling and simply love unplugging to spend time with friends and family. Once I started feeling like my business was running me instead of me running my business, I knew I had to put in place some strict systems for allowing myself to take time off.
Now it is not as simple as requesting PTO, enabling an email response, and closing your computer for the next 10 days, but I’ve established a system that has allowed me to take vacation while still earning money and staying on top of my systems, orders, and communication!
Step 1: Content
First, I need to ensure I am automating all of the content I have planned to go out during the time I am away. So what does this mean exactly? Each month I create a content calendar for both Details and Swirls and Detailed Threads Boutique with the content I need to create and market for the month. This includes blog posts, emails to my email list, graphics for Pinterest, and more! Since I create my content calendars each month, I already know ahead of time the exact content that is expected to go out the week I am away. I usually prepare the content in batches, so the content for the week I am away will normally always be done ahead of time. All I really have to do is ensure it is automated to go live throughout that week of vacation! I will ensure all emails are set to send, all blog posts are scheduled to be published, and any other type of content is automated for the week!
For some small businesses this may include social media as well. For Detailed Threads Boutique we schedule out instagram posts every Monday for the entire week, so before a vacation I will ensure I’ve scheduled out Instagram posts throughout the time I will be away. For the Details and Swirls instagram I incorporate lifestyle content, so I do not need to pre-plan posts since I will most likely be posting about whatever I am doing during my time off!
Step 2: Orders
If you are a product-based business, you understand the stress that can ensue around planning a vacation when you have incoming orders, shipping deadlines, and more. Originally, I thought the only solution to taking a vacation was to completely close my shop during the time I was away. While this is definitely an option, I’ve found a system that works for taking vacation while still keeping my shop open!
I set the processing time on all of my orders to 3 weeks. In my normal schedule, it usually takes me around 1 – 2 weeks to complete an order. This 3 week processing time allows me to have a buffer for when I receive an increased volume in orders, and allows me the ability to weave in vacation time. While it is a great goal to try to complete all open orders before a vacation, this is often not feasible. Since I have a processing time of 3 weeks, I am able to plan my orders around my vacation. First, on my calendar I check to see which day I will “return” to work after vacation. Before I leave, I now know I need to ship out ALL the orders who’s processing time is up before that “return” date. This will ensure that all open orders remain on schedule. Since most of my vacations are usually around one week, I can leave my store open and allow orders to come in while I am on vacation. When I return from vacation, I double check all open orders, the processing time on each, and start right back up without any hiccups in deadlines!
Step 3: Customer Service & Communication
While it would be nice to completely unplug for the entirety of a vacation, this is not always possible as a small business owner. Thankfully, my business is not a matter of life or death (even though I treat it as it is most times). Mostly all emails I receive are not urgent and can wait to be responded to until I return. I will set an automated email response explaining that I am on vacation, and I will let the customer know the exact date they can expect to hear back from me when I return. Now I will still occasionally check my email throughout vacation just to ensure anything urgent is dealt with. Since I also have a service-based aspect to my business (my rental wedding sign business), I will be sure to check in with any bookings I have around the time of my vacation so they are aware of when I am returning to work, and they do not see photos of me on vacation and think I forgot about their event!
While this may seem like quite a bit of work to take a week off, it really is not that bad! Overall, I simply just automate content to publish while I am gone, ensure all orders meet their promised processing time, and communicate to my customers/clients about my time off! Approaching time off with an organized plan will allow you to feel in control of your business and feel at ease knowing your business is still running while you are away!
As business owners we NEED time off to recharge, and I challenge you to implement these tips and take some time of this month, even if it is just for a weekend!