Time Off: Do Small Business Owners Get Any?

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on October 20, 2009 in: Business - Plain & Simple, Delegation for Success

If you run a small business, you may find yourself quickly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work that is required. Not only must you juggle constant deadlines from a wide range of clients, but the housekeeping tasks can be immense. From bookkeeping and accounting to cost estimating and project management, the small business owner can quickly become overwhelmed.

But at the same time, trying to take time off for business owners is extremely difficult. With so much to do, it can be extremely difficult to break away at the end of the day. Twelve or fourteen hour workdays may soon become the norm as you try to keep your head above water. Success breeds success, leading you down an ever busier path. No matter how much you love your work, sooner or later you will begin to feel ready for a vacation.

When a business owner considers taking some time off they inevitably begin asking themselves:

  • What will happen during your vacation?
  • Will you be able to completely clear your schedule for a week or two?
  • What happens if you do?
  • Will you lose track of important clients, or possibly even lose work due to the inability to get things done in a timely manner?
  • Will you lose out on future clients simply because you were unable to answer your email before someone else was hired instead?

There are no simple answers to these questions. Every business owner’s personal, vocational and financial picture is different. However, a basic truth holds for every person on Earth, whether or not that person is a business owner. We as human beings need down time. We need time to relax, spend time with loved ones, and have fun. Not allowing yourself some time off is a sure path to burnout.

Here are some tips on how to take time off for business owners

Begin by outsourcing as much as possible. A virtual assistant can transform the small business experience for the business owner who is struggling to keep up. Your virtual assistant can manage many of the day to day tasks of business management, from bookkeeping and accounting to answering phones and email. He or she can also manage your calendar, sending you reminders of important upcoming events. A VA can work as many or as few hours as you require, and those hours may change by the week, month or project. The cost of a VA is generally much less than that of recruiting, hiring, training and retaining an employee.
Plan your vacation well in advance. Work longer hours to get as far ahead as possible before you leave town. Let your clients know about your vacation well ahead of time. Plan realistic project deadlines that account for the time that you will be away.

Working during your vacation is a viable option, as long as your work hours are limited. There is little point in paying for a hotel room that you will sit in for days on end, working. However, setting aside an hour a day to check email and return phone calls, and perhaps one or two days a week to complete work tasks is a reasonable goal.

Let your VA work for you while you are on vacation. Arrange for him or her to answer your phone and respond to emails. Have anything that requires your attention forwarded to your voicemail or email for you to respond to at your leisure.

Balancing work and downtime can be difficult for any business owner. However, time off is essential to mental health and stability. Outsource those tasks that you do not need to personally handle and structure your schedule to allow for vacations. The peace of mind and refreshment of mind, body and spirit are worth the effort.

About the author: Heather Villa, MBA CMA MSM, is a Business Coach and Entrepreneur. She helps business owners achieve success in operations, productivity, project management, and social media. Read her other articles at http://hireheathervilla.com/resources/articles/ and visit http://heathervilla.com for more information.

Disclaimer: © 2009 Heather Villa. Permission is granted to repost this article. Article must be published in its entirety, including author bio, and all links must remain intact.

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I love working with coaches, freelancers, and entrepreneurs to help them become more successful. If you'd like to improve your business, find out how I can help.

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