Five tips for planning for holidays and quiet times as a small business owner

The “H” word.

Holidays.

As a small business owner taking off time for a holiday may be the last thing on your mind, or perhaps you have childcare commitments which bring an added element of stress when trying to run your business alongside family obligations. It’s not much fun having two major parts of your life competing for attention and your energy.

Without a proper break, you risk burnout which will impact both your business and personal life in terms of health and family. This is not great when your main motivation for setting up the first place may have been to have more time with the people who mean the most and to have more time do the things you love.

When you are juggling so many commitments, like running a small business, you need to step back and give yourself time to plan how to deal with the hurdles that come your way.

Below we talk about the ways you can plan for the holidays you need and actually take a break without the fear of it affecting your business.

Beating the Burnout 
You need time to slow down and switch off – for your physical and mental health. As the wise adage goes, ‘you can’t pour from an empty teapot’. You can’t expect yourself to be productive 100% of the time. You need to take care of you for your business and your family to get the best from you. It’s not a maybe, it is a must!

Often it is a change of mindset and realising that taking a break or holiday is also a necessity for business growth. Time away gives you space to stop reacting and having to deal with stuff as it happens, giving you the headspace to reflect and place your attention on, for example, the areas of your business you would like to develop. You also show to yourself that you are committed to being an effective business owner; by looking after your business’s most important asset – you!

Working Smarter
If, as described above, you find yourself in reaction mode, going through the motions of running your business and feeling overwhelmed with the amount of work you are doing, stressed at the thought of taking time off, or how you are going to manage to fit it all in … breathe.

Working smarter is part of helping you have a happier holiday time. How can you do this though? Here are a  few tips to get you started.

  1. Book holidays in advance
    Whip out your calendar and take a 12-month overview of your business, then put in some preliminary dates when you want to take a holiday. It’s a lot easier to take a break if you have booked it in advance. Doing this exercise means you will be able to see when you need to work and also for when you need to book time off with the family or for the school holidays. You’ll also be able to see visually when the quieter times in your business are too.
  2. Deal with problems before they occur
    Part of the resistance to booking time off as a small business owner may be the dreaded thought of what could go wrong while we are away.

    Taking the time to anticipate and identify potential problems before you go on holiday gives you the chance to put in place how you will respond. This could include how you will answer queries, deal with orders, or marketing your business while you are away.

    If your business needs someone to step-in, consider hiring a Virtual Assistant (VA) or hands-on help to deal with general enquiries or run the day-to-day side of your business.

  3. Automate your marketing 
    Which bring us nicely to, making sure you still market your business while you take a break. Automation is the key here. It’s setting up the email responder for replying to emails. Pinning a post to the top of your social media profiles to let followers know you are away, when you will return and how they can contact/resolve an issue in the meantime. It is scheduling social media posts, blog and website updates in advance, and making sure you have an e-newsletter or two ready to go too.

    Don’t forget to show your customers that you are human too and give them a glimpse into your holiday through one or two social media posts!

Getting your Financial House in Order 
Organising the practical aspects of taking a break is important but money is also a major factor as it can, and does, determine if we take a holiday in the first place.

What things can you put in place to ensure you get away in the first place?

  1. Savings 
    Having a separate pot so that you afford to take a holiday can be a useful start to preparing for time off. It’s about figuring out how much you need to cover to run the business and also what you need to cover for travel and time off. You can then put this aside in a separate bank account or savings pot.
  2. Have a sale upon return or before you go on holiday
    Quiet times and holidays are all part of running a business. When you know when these times will be you could prepare to have a sale. This could be before you go away to raise much-appreciated funds to add to your holiday or cash reserves needed to keep your business ticking over. Or it could be held afterwards when you need to cover any potential unexpected expenses from your travels.

    Factoring in a sale may help motivate you to get back to your work. Such activity will make you excited or give you a financial goal to work towards for that much-wanted trip.

  3. Celebrate your holidays with your clients  
    How does celebrating your holiday help money-wise? It’s a chance to generate sales by offering a gift, such as a discount or an offer you know your clients will love, but won’t cost you too much in terms of time or delivery.

One final note
Taking a holiday and factoring in quiet times is an essential part of running and developing your small business.  While it can seem overwhelming to plan this into the day-to-day running of your business, taking time away is a must.

Working smarter by booking your holidays in advance, anticipating problems and automating your marketing will take away the pressure of the daily running of a business and help to make the holiday seem more manageable.  Planning financially by saving ahead, as well as actively planning money-making activities, can pay for a much-needed break.

What are your tips for planning holidays as a small business owner? Join in the conversation with the Digital Sparkles community.

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