Accomplishing The Impossible

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Accomplishing The Impossible

5 Ways Small Business Owners Can Also Enjoy a Winter Vacation

“Nobody works harder than a small business owner. We work while sick, injured and overwhelmed by life.” My dad told me that when I was in high school and way too young to fully appreciate the depth of truth contained in that sentiment.

Small business owners face struggles the 9-to-5er never dreams of, but you also reap rewards most jobs just can’t offer. It seems that holiday plans are the great annual equalizer when comparing your career advantages with your friends in the corporate world. With the Holiday Season in full swing, the savvy business owner wonders how to balance the clients’ and customers’ needs with personal time and family obligations.

Below are a few thoughts and ideas that will help you achieve actual peace of mind during your time away by making a plan to manage the work pipeline, customer needs and employee actions during this already-hectic time of year.

If you work in a knowledge industry and can get a lot done from almost anywhere, consider a decision to forgo all but the biggest, most valuable opportunities from November– December. Politely turn down smaller jobs that you may normally take. Be (mostly) honest with those clients, saying that your schedule is full through December. The fact is that your schedule is full…because you decided to fill some of it with family activities and travel so the kids can see grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles and cousins. There is also an unexpected benefit to telling some clients you can’t accept new work: they see that your service is a sought-after commodity by others and they actually place a higher value on booking you.

Planning and communication are the keys to your success here. Being in a position to effectively manage your operations with a laptop and cell phone can be a real advantage. Should you decide that remote management is the best for your business demands and family’s needs right now, then make a schedule, stick to it and communicate those limited work hour availabilities to clients, your staff and, most importantly, the family. Make every effort to communicate to your clients, customers and workers how long you will be gone, what they should do in the event of an actual work emergency and what you’ve done to ensure each open project moves along smoothly during your absence. Addressing major concerns in advance goes a long way to mitigate the potential downfall of being geographically separated from your business.

Trust your staff or employees to carry out your intent, but clearly communicate your very high expectations for production and conduct while you’re unavailable. Continuing the trend of having a plan and communicating with everyone involved, review open or expected projects in advance with your team. Give them every opportunity to succeed and surprise you, but don’t leave the overall result of the project to chance or their interpretation of your vision. If you have a daily routine of things that need to be done around the business, make sure they’re written or even consider a checklist for easy reference. Take this opportunity to review your schedule with your team and they will come away with a greater appreciation of what you put into the shop every single day.

Don’t fret, friends in the retail and service industries. There are ways to get your valuable me-time, also. Developing a holiday schedule that allows the owners and employees to spend time with their loved ones while also providing opportunities for customers to get what they need can be quite a balancing act. Can you bring in temporary help during the holidays? Not only is school out but the diversity of cultures in our society means that some families don’t place as much value as others on being away from work during this time of year. You can also reduce your hours of operation during the weeks of Thanksgiving, Christmas and even the New Year if possible. As long as you make every effort to ensure your customers know the holiday hours in advance (more on this below), these methods can be a great compromise and almost all of your customers really do understand shortened holiday hours.

Let me guess, none of the above applies to you at all, right? Your business volume from here until March is dependent upon snowfall levels, hipster holiday sweaters and all things winter wonderland. Seasonal businesses have less options during this time of year but they can more than make up for working over the traditional holiday season during slower times on the calendar. You may well have the best vacation deals of us all during your business’s off-season. Early Spring and early Autumn are the best time for travel deals to many destination locales that are usually packed during peak seasons. Travel around the U.S., Canada, Europe and even Australia and New Zealand is frequently offered at a discount during these traditionally slow travel seasons. So make those vacation reservations for April or September with a smile on your face knowing the rest of us are paying full fare to travel while you are running your business!

Get with your work team to plan open projects and discuss expectations. Put up those holiday hours in a friendly sign on your door and definitely don’t forget to update your website and social media platforms with the seasonal schedule. Then take a little time to explain to the family there may be occasions when you absolutely must address work items but reassure them that those will be during scheduled times whenever that is possible…and hold up your end of the deal, by sticking to it. These tips will help ease the anxiety of your clients and workers while you’re enjoying some earned time off to enjoy the season.

What are your favorite tips and tricks for managing business ownership requirements while enjoying holiday time? Tweet us @NASEtweets and let us know!


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