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July252014

How to Take a Vacation From Work: Tips for Leaving the Business Behind

Business man at desk on a beach

Small business owners are under a great deal of stress—between making a profit, managing staff and exceeding customer expectations, they're the ideal candidates for some much-needed time off. But according to a recent Inc. article reporting on data from a Staples survey, nearly half of all small business owners skip taking a vacation every year, while 40 percent of those who do make time to get away can't fully relax.

Wondering how to take a vacation from work? Here are five tips to help leave the business behind.

Get Prepared

Start by making sure bills are paid, all obligations to financial institutions are met and all big project due-dates are far enough down the road. Next, draft an email to clients well in advance which contains dates, emergency contact numbers, along with the name and contact information of a next-in-command. Send this email again as the date gets closer. Set up an automatic out-of-office reply to notify any customers who missed the first two emails. Finally, create a specific plan of action with staff to handle customer concerns.

Get Ready for Return

Coming back from vacation often provides a 'charged up' feeling along with the drive to innovate. Don't let this go to waste: Make a list of projects to complete as soon as the vacation is over. This way, any leftover energy from a trip is effectively channeled into work instead of looking for specific tasks to complete.

Planning out a return also makes getting overwhelmed less likely. Chances are there will be things that didn't go according to plan or fires that have to be put out—without other projects to drive a return to work, it's easy to get stressed all over again.

Train Staff Well

Many owners see taking a vacation from work as a luxury they can't afford because they're the only ones who know the ins and outs of the business well enough to keep it running. BusinessWeek advises choosing an employee to be groomed for succession, someone who has the skill set to eventually take over the business with the right training.

Before leaving, train this primary staff member on how to complete 90 to 95 percent of all business tasks—and make sure the last five percent don't need to be completed until the vacation is over. Next, hold a meeting with all staff and outline what's expected and who's in charge. Be very clear about this transfer of authority to prevent any power struggles or conflicts of interest. Also make sure to designate a back-up manager in case the go-to staff member falls ill or can't make it work.

Choose Check-in Times

Some business owners prefer to go completely radio silent on vacation. If so, make sure this is clearly communicated to staff. Most prefer to get in touch at least once per day—the best bet here is to choose an hour each day and keep that time consistent throughout the vacation. During that hour be ready to answer emails, check-in with staff and field important client phone calls. When time is up put away smartphones, laptops and any other business devices until the next day.

Consider Doing Both

For some business owners, taking a vacation from work means taking work with them. This is easier than ever thanks to high-speed Internet connections, wireless hotspots and mobile devices, but a 'little bit' of work can quickly turn into days spent in the hotel and coming home just as stressed. To work and play on vacation, choose either morning or evening to completely focus on the business, then find an Internet cafe or use the hotel's wireless. Once the 'workday' has ended, make sure vacation-related activities are planned so work can't intrude.

Not sure how to take a vacation from work? With pre-planning, preparation for return, staff training and designated work check-ins, it's possible to run a business and relax.

Talk to a Cadence Small Business banker to see how our solutions can help ease your stress -- when you're at work and on vacation.