OK so as you know, I like to travel. A lot. Although it’s a lot of fun, it also means that I end up having to put my work (and business) on hold for a few days while I’m away. That’s why I came up with this before vacation to do list for small business owners: so I could use it before my trips. Hopefully you find it useful too!
Before vacation to do list for small business owners
Funny story. So just before Christmas I was road tripping from my home near Winnipeg, Manitoba to Edmonton, Manitoba. This is about a 12 hour road trip, which also takes you through Saskatchewan. If you aren’t Canadian, then you won’t know that it’s a province that severely lacks cell service along the major highways.
Well, about 8 hours into that road trip somewhere near Yorkton I got a call from a client saying they’re site was having issues. It definitely wasn’t my idea of a good time trying to fix the darn thing from my cell phone because I didn’t pack my laptop. Sigh.
The good news is, the site was still fixed in a few minutes and everything was fine. The better news is I learned yet another lesson about taking vacations as a business owner.
Let your clients know when you’ll be away
Ideally, do this a couple weeks or even a month in advance. If you choose to warn them quite far ahead, (especially if you run a business with slower turnaround times or far-ahead bookings) send an additional reminder closer to your departure date. Be clear about your availability while you’re away.
This is also a great way to get some last minute work caught up on before you go. Create a sense of urgency and give them a deadline.
If you have a service based business, like a hair salon, make sure you black out your holidays well in advance in your book calendar. For last minute trips, call and reschedule your bookings for those days.
Complete any outstanding work
Make sure you’re all caught up before you go! If there’s something that you’ve been meaning to follow up on, or outstanding on your to do list, get it done. Try your best to wrap up any ongoing projects, and if you can’t, make sure they know you’ll be unavailable.
You should also look ahead to see if there’s anything that will be pressing while you’re away. Things like invoicing or service work and make arrangements.
Decide if you’ll work there or not
Just like my laptop dilemma, you should decide whether or not you plan to work while away or deal with it when you get home. When I go away for the weekend next month my laptop will come along. On the other hand, my upcoming trip to California in May will be laptop free. I’m limiting my phone and email use to evening wifi in the hotel.
Deciding what kind of work you’ll be doing while away will help you figure out what to tell your clients beforehand.
If you’re going to be gone for longer than a couple days, make sure you schedule content for while you’re away. Use the built in scheduler or a software like Tailwind to schedule social media posts. If you have a blog, set posts to publish while you’re away. Just because you’re gone doesn’t mean your business is!
Set your email message and voicemail
Depending on how clients get ahold of you, make sure you have an away message set while you’re gone. One of those automatic email replies is good enough. Things to include are: That you’re away, when they’ll be able to hear from you, and any alternate necessary.
Clean your office
This might seem like a silly item to add to the to do list, but hear me out. When you get back from vacation there’s probably going to be a million things to do. It will be so much easier to get back into the swing of work if your office is clean. Just like coming back to a clean house, returning to a tidy office after being away makes coming back a little easier.
Try and relax
No matter how much you prepare beforehand it’s really hard to let go and relax. But the whole point of going on vacation is to get away! Use that time to recharge so you can get back to running your business. For most of us, our companies are not life and death. Nothing too awful can happen while you’re away!
Of course, there’s more that small business owners will need to do before going away. Especially if you have a storefront or staff. This is just a general guide to get you started, or if you run a freelance business.