NASE Blogs

A Little R&R is Good Business!

May 31, 2010

Are you planning some vacation time this summer? Or ... does the economy still have you worried and you’re afraid to risk that your business might not be able to afford having you gone for a week?

Sadly ... entrepreneur-types can get so blindsided that they put the business ahead of everything else ... including the family ... and we're not sure whether to wear the whole “12 hours a day, seven days a week” attitude as a badge of honor or make it our biggest complaint. One minute we're boasting about how many hours we put in to keep the business humming along, the next minute we're trying to rationalize about an overdue project by saying, “there are only so many hours in a day and I'm already working most of them!” As for our families, if they can still put up with us, they keep their distance because of our roller coaster moods.

The main problem with this scenario is many entrepreneurs don't differentiate between working hard and working smart. Contrary to common belief, putting in a lot of hours isn't necessarily going to make your business run better. So what if you spend years burning the candle at both ends, building your business and bank account, what will you have to show for it all? You'll probably end up with a beautiful casket and a nice estate left behind for your spouse and kids ... if they are still around.

The truth is that spending every waking hour building a business is entrepreneurial “ego-nomics.” If we want to keep our health, sanity, and families intact, we need to quit thinking that working a lot of hours is going to lead to success. In fact, when you talk about how hard you work to get the job done ... unless you already drive a Mercedes and travel the world ... you probably aren't impressing anyone.

If you've fallen into the workaholic, “nobody else can do my job” frame of mind, it's time to get a grip on life and get away from “the biz” for awhile. Remember this truism ... You’ll never find the time to get away ... you have to make the time.

So, if you are looking at your calendar or your check book and thinking that there is no way you are going to be able to take some down time ... here are a few steps you can take to loosen your grip on work time and ease into some R&R moments:

  • Don't be a control freak. There really are people who can do some jobs as well as you; delegate more work to employees or independent contractors. While it's important to know what’s going on in your business, learn to put more emphasis on the areas that really count.
  • Know when to turn business away. If you have so much work you can't handle it all, one of three things is wrong:

            1. You have too many clients;

            2. You need to hire outside help or;

            3. Your aren’t charging enough for your products and services.

  • When you try to accomplish more than your body or mind can handle, the product you put out will falter and you could end up with all kinds of free-time simply because your customers won’t like what you produce and will go somewhere else.
  • No law says that a vacation has to be seven days. Try to take at least one full weekend off every month. If you're already at the point of taking most weekends off, you're either so efficient you don't need this information or your business has room to grow. In the real world, working some weekends is the norm, but a couple of days off now and then will do wonders for replenishing those little gray cells in the brain. And ... if you need some time off but for one reason or another it really isn’t in the cards ... take a StayCation or DayCation (take a day off mid-week) so that you can be around for limited access to your business.
  • Take some regular pressure release time-off. Attend at least one business/social event every week. This is particularly important for home-based businesses, even if it's nothing more than a leisurely lunch with a couple of business buds (friends, not beers) or an afternoon of golf or tennis.
  • Try to get out of town for five or 10 days during the year (this doesn't necessarily mean all at once). For many of us, preventing burnout means taking four or five long weekends each year if things just won't allow us to shut the doors for a whole week or two at a time.
  • Get out of town when the timing is right. Knowing your peak business times is important in planning when you can escape. Don't leave your vacations to chance or think doing things spontaneously is smart planning. Sit down with a calendar ... and your family ... every three months and block-out a few days when you can escape.

Regardless of what works for you, the key is to get away from everything that looks, smells, or feels like business. If your business really can't do without some degree of your personal attention, the world of technology is at your beck and call with a laptop computer, cell phone, e-mail, and a plethora of other electronic gadgets to let you conduct business from afar.

If you're one of those guilt-ridden types, attend a couple of out-of-town conferences or trade shows as your R&R. It will still feel like you’re working but you'll get some personal recharging done at the same time. Especially for you money misers, conferences are great ... just keep thinking, “it's all tax deductible, it's all tax deductible.”

Be sure to plan ahead whenever you're going to be away, especially if you are a solopreneur. Let customers know when you will not be available and when you will return, and update them about any project in progress before you leave.

  • Lastly, if you have employees or associates, let them do their job. It's amazing how accomplished people can be when they don't have you around to depend on.

While old habits are hard to break, remember one of the reasons you went into business was to have the freedom to do what you wanted, when you wanted. Don't let your business become your taskmaster, take control and take a break, you deserve it.

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