5 Tips for Taking Time off From Your Shop

Jan 17, 2012

Does being the boss mean you have to spend every waking hour at your shop? Sometimes, unfortunately, the answer seems to be yes.

“There are many upsides to calling yourself boss,” Laura Vanderkam wrote in a recent Fortune article. “The downside? Every year…entrepreneurs learn (and relearn, as the case may be) that it’s tough to take even a week or two off, let alone a longer absence.”

Vanderkam spoke with a number of experts to gather five tips for small business owners on how to take time off.

1. Plan ahead. Way ahead. “Knowing your vacation times at least a few months in advance lets you build that lack of availability into your client proposals and plan your pipeline accordingly,” she wrote. “Knowing your schedule ahead of time also lets you plan for some long days before and after, and arrange employee schedules with that in mind.”

2. Watch your business cycle. “If you run a retail business, forget about starting Christmas vacation before Christmas,” Vanderkam wrote, sharing the experience of the co-owner of a wine business that’s busiest between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

3. Get help. If you have employees, they can take over for you, but what if you don’t have staff? “Doctors cover each other’s shifts for vacations, and if you have a colleague you admire and trust, you could try referring work over there during your time off-particularly if you plan to take a longer leave,” Vanderkam wrote. “You could also ask a trusted friend or family member to check your e-mail and voice mail and call your hotel if anything disastrous happens.”

4. Consider shorter, more frequent breaks. Taking long weekends off as opposed to closing for a week at a time may make more sense for your business. “I took a week off last year and even though I planned it well, a few clients were frustrated,” Gaurav Sharma, owner of a web startup, told Vanderkam, adding that he now sticks to long weekends.

5. Schedule short “work breaks” on your vacation. Brad Friedman, an attorney who now works in social media marketing, told Vanderkam that he makes time for work on his vacation days. “That schedule provides me with some time every day, or every other day, to check e-mail and phone messages,” he said. “I try to limit this ‘work time’ to no more than an hour a day. Frankly, this tip helps me relax on the vacation much more than if I would try to totally cut myself off from work for a whole week.”

To read the complete Fortune article, click here.