How to plan for taking a holiday when you’re the business owner

How to plan for taking a holiday when you’re the business owner

This comes up time and time again with busy business owners – they don’t have time for a holiday!

How can they can take  a ‘normal’ holiday of 2 weeks say, when they struggle to stop working over the weekends?

Something I often hear from new clients is, ‘I haven’t taken a proper holiday since I started my business’.

At this point, I usually insist on having this as one of their objectives from working with me – to take a proper holiday.

You can define what ‘proper’ means to you, but I’d suggest we’re talking at least a week away here, at least once a year.

Seriously, could you ever work in an employed role where you never had a decent break? In fact, current legislation states that someone working full time, 5 days a week, in the UK, is entitled to 28 days statutory annual leave. (I’m sure this has increased since my days in employment!)

If you’re not taking a decent amount of time as holiday from your business, you’re not only being a pretty rubbish boss to yourself, but you’re also not doing the business any favours.

No matter how much you love doing what you do, you need time completely switched off from it to rest and recharge. You’ll come back with a clearer perspective, new ideas and revived sense of energy to channel into your business.

There are normally a couple of objections business owners have about taking a holiday. One is time (or lack of), and the other is money.

Let’s look at the money issue first. Okay, I get that if you’re having time off you may not be earning money.  No-one is going to pay you holiday pay. Or are they?

One of the perks of running your own business is that you get decide the benefits package you have. If you want to give yourself 28 days paid leave each year, then you can.

You just need to allow for this across the rest of the year, and build this into your daily, weekly, monthly turnover objectives.

Now let’s look at time. It’s like everything else – you have to make the time for holidays in the same way that you make the time for other things. Yes, you’re busy, but there are things you can do to help create the time.

It all starts with making the commitment. Book a holiday in now – I dare you! Once you’ve committed to do it, you’ll amaze yourself at how creative you can be to make the time to go on holiday.

If you’re not convinced and want some pointers, or if you’ve already booked your holiday and are now panicking at the thought of what you’ll do, here are my top tips;

1. Start planning early

Don’t leave it to the last minute to start planning how you’ll cover your business when you’re away as this will lead to feeling more stressed before you go. Those last few days will always be busy before you go away so start to plan well in advance, a couple of months ideally, for what you’ll need to have in place.

2. Draft a list of all the tasks that need doing

This is a useful exercise to do whether you’re going on holiday or not. Simply write down a list off the jobs that currently need doing in your business. It helps to group these together under headings such as Finance, Customer Service, Admin, Marketing, Fulfilment (i.e. the actual delivery of your product or service).

3. Identify what still needs to happen whilst you’re away

Highlight, colour code, or put a mark against all the tasks that will still need to happen whilst you’re away.

4. What can be automated?

Using a different colour or code, indicate on your list all of the tasks that you could automate / schedule whilst you’re away e.g. social media updates, invoicing, email follow ups etc.

5. What additional resource do you need?

This should leave you now with a list of tasks that still need to happen and cannot be scheduled or automated. What resource to you need to cover these?

Do you need someone to answer your calls and respond to your emails? If you don’t have a team member already in place you can use, look at some of the virtual PA services available now.

This can also be a good time to have a sort out of things like email, and unsubscribe from any that are no longer relevant or useful to you.

Look to places like e-lance or people per hour for more specialised resource or, even better, get recommendations from other business owners.

You are definitely not the first business owner to go on holiday so ask around for what services others have used.

6. Prepare for the week you return

Don’t expect to hit the ground running when you get back, and plan accordingly for this. I’d suggest keeping any appointments and meetings to a minimum for that first week you get back, and expect to come back to ‘stuff’ that needs dealing with. Allow for this in your diary.

7. Consider your communications

Do you need to let certain people know you’ll be away beforehand? Do you need to set up an out of office reply on any of your emails? What about your voicemail, should this let people know you’re away?

It depends on the type of business you’re running, but don’t forget to consider your communications whilst you’re on holiday.

8. Enjoy your holiday!

Finally, make a conscious decision to switch off and enjoy your holiday. If you’ve done all the planning then there’s nothing more you can do. Don’t be tempted to think you can check your emails and social media when you’re away – that’s cheating!

Hopefully this has given you some tips you can apply to make taking a holiday smoother, if you’d like to talk some more about this then please book in a complimentary consultation with me via phone or Skype and let me help you put together your own holiday plan. You can book some time directly in my diary here.


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Alison Bradford

Alison Bradford is a business coach who works with smart, ambitious business owners to get clarity about how they can grow their business and increase profit. Sign up here to learn 6 easy ways you can boost profit in your business today.
  • Amy
    Posted at 09:27h, 16 July

    Your tips are spot on Alison. It took us almost 3 years to take a proper holiday which was far too long. We did pretty much as you suggest above with lots of advanced planning, we had a fab and much needed break, and the business was fine without us for a week!

    • Alison Bradford
      Posted at 09:46h, 16 July

      Thanks Amy. Great to hear that you survived it! I think that sometimes us business owners can fall into the trap of thinking we’re indispensable, when we’re really not 😉