HOW TO TAKE A HOLIDAY WHEN YOU RUN YOUR OWN BUSINESS
For the first time in three years, I took a holiday.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve been away a lot over that same period but, my office (read: laptop) always came with me. I love my business and hence my job but as all small business owners will tell you, it’s a completely different experience to working for someone else.
You just never really escape it and because you’ve designed it that way, that’s ok. Preferable even. Gone are the days of “the weekend” and that Sunday night feeling when you know you have to go back to work the next day. It sort of all just becomes one. Your job becomes seamlessly integrated into your life and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
At the same time, I am very mindful of making sure there is balance in that integrated life.
Colleagues who have become dear friends tell me that I have always been good at separating my needs from the business; I would generally never stay in the office past 7pm in my previous life. And so in that same mindful, connected-to-my-senses kind of way, I decided that it was time for a proper break.
Not just a pretend break where you’re away but still connected. A don’t-open-your-laptop once kind of break, which I believe is such an important part of the creative side of my business.
It’s a chance to think in a new environment and just let the mind wander in the hopes of stumbling across a fabulous idea that you can implement when you get home (and I did manage to conjure up a few which I’m excited to put into action very soon!).
So, how did I do it? And, how did I do?
Let me first be very clear in saying that it would simply not have been possible without my amazing Marketing & Communications Co-ordinator, Jessie. Building an extraordinary team is a vision I’ve always had for blancspace and so it’s been incredibly exciting to begin doing that. I am so so so lucky to have her (as are our clients) because the reality is that its near impossible to completely check out when you’re a solopreneur.
Even so, letting go was not without its challenges. It was the first time that I’ve completely handed over the reins of the business to someone else. I’m not going to lie, it was scary because I hadn’t done it before. Separating myself from what all small business owners will also tell you is like your first child, was a challenge for me. As people who know me well will tell you, I kind of like to be in control, I am a calculating planner and certified perfectionist so this “letting go” business doesn’t come naturally to me.
But as I took off, bound for Honolulu, I turned the page of the Qantas in-flight magazine and read a quote that stopped me in my tracks. It was so perfectly timed and meaningful I couldn’t quite believe it. It said “if the business is going to become successful, it has to survive without your constant input and grow beyond you”.
In that moment I knew everything would be fine, and it was. I also am eternally grateful to Dale Beaumont, CEO of Business Blueprint.
Aside from all the personal mindset stuff, there are also a few practical things that I did to facilitate my vacation, which I highly recommend.
It’s vital that you tell all the key stakeholders in and outside of your business that you’re going away. For me, that meant telling my clients personally that I was taking annual leave, how long I’d be away for and who they could reach out to in my absence.
2. ACTIVATE YOUR OOO
Sounds obvious, but having an informative Out of Office notification on your email is simply professional not to mention good manners. Welcome the person who has taken the time to contact your business, again tell them how long you’ll be away and if possible, introduce them to someone else they can chat to in the meantime. If that’s not an option, you could share your mobile number for emergencies or invite them to connect with you on social media (not a bad idea anyway!). Ensure your OOO is friendly, as though you were actually writing an email back to the sender. Don’t just whip up one line that says you’re not available.
Have a meeting with your team before you go that is entirely dedicated to handing over not only the projects you’re working on but the tasks you’d like completed while you’re away. Transparent communication, especially with your team, is absolutely essential. As an employee, having a boss who is just absent with no explanation is intolerable.
4. TICK OFF BIG ITEMS BEFORE YOU GO
Making sure that the most significant tasks are done before you leave the country is essential. Don’t put off deadlines until you get back. Way too stressful when the single goal of this whole exercise is to de-stress and take some time out.
This step, as I found, is critical. The journey or flight to your destination is a good time to really get into the holiday mindset. You have to commit to actually having a holiday the same way you did the significant tasks above.
Once you’ve committed, you have to make yourself do it. It might take a few days to wind down but you have to actively practice not checking your emails or worrying about what’s going on at home, in your office or studio.
It was simply delightful to take a proper holiday and I want to thank Jessie and my beautiful clients for making it a reality.