Sponsored by Sage

By Rieva Lesonsky

Your business is busy (isn’t it always?), and even though it’s July, you may be thinking you don’t have time to take a vacation. Think again. It’s important to take time off and recharge your batteries so you can remain fully engaged in your small business. (After all, without you, there is no business!)

Here are some tips for taking a summer break, plus strategies for harnessing your renewed energy after the vacation to meet your business goals.

To take a break…

  • Plan your time off around your customers’ breaks or the slower parts of summer. Unless you own a swimsuit store, B&B or surf camp, most businesses slow down to some extent in July and August. Try to select a slower time for your B2C business or, if you sell B2B, find out if your biggest customers have weeks when they shut down.
  • Let customers know your plans ahead of time. Inform critical customers in advance of the dates you’ll be away so there are no unpleasant surprises. If necessary, take steps to finish projects in advance of your vacation.
  • Delegate to a second in command to take charge while you’re gone. Put a trusted employee or partner in charge during your vacation. Have this person check your voice mail and email and give them the authority to handle most issues on their own. Define what constitutes a true “emergency” and have them contact you only if that type of emergency occurs. If it’s hard for you to be that hands-off with your business, set a specific time each day when you’ll check in with the person to get an update—and stick to it.
  • Really take a break. Unplugging from your devices is critical to recharging your entrepreneurial batteries. Even two weeks on a beach in Tahiti won’t do you any good if you spend the time checking your email every 20 minutes. A shorter vacation with no work is more restorative than a longer working vacation, so if you know you can’t put down the smartphone for a week, try a long weekend.
  • Get outta town. Staycations at home can too easily turn into “dropping by the office” or “just opening the laptop for 5 minutes.” Go somewhere that requires a plane, train or (long) automobile trip—it’ll help you unplug. Plus, the new sights, sounds and experiences will revitalize your creativity, which ultimately helps you come up with better ideas for expanding your business.

Once you’re back at work….

  • Don’t get caught up in putting out fires immediately. Plan to harness your renewed energy wisely, instead of frittering it away on the small stuff. For the rest of the summer, set aside one day each week to “think big” about your company’s future. You can do this yourself, or by brainstorming with key managers.
  • Dig into the data. Review your business finances and other critical benchmarks. Use the dashboard tools provided by your accounting software to generate reports that will give you and your employees an overview of how well your business is doing and where there’s room for improvement.
  • Engage your employees. To really get ideas flowing, hold an all-hands meeting to review the business goals you set at the beginning of the year. (Choose a fun location to take advantage of the summer weather.) We’re more than halfway through 2015—are you close to hitting your targets? If not, share your ideas, get your employees’ input and come up with ways to adjust the plan. Then set action items and assign ownership so everyone has a role to play in making it happen.