The summer holidays are fast approaching, and if you’re beginning to worry about how your business will tick over in your absence, it’s time to start planning.
Most of us are so tied up in our day-to-day operations, that after the glow of having booked your holiday has worn off, and you’ve got stuck back in to the nitty-gritty, before you know it, your departure date is looming. Setting off on your holiday feeling drained and stressed because you’ve been running around at the last minute trying to get things organised isn’t a great way to start that rare period of rest and relaxation. You want to head off feeling accomplished and calm knowing that everything is going to run smoothly in your absence.
So where do you start? My recommendation is that you take half an hour away from the operational stuff, grab a coffee (or tea), a pen and a piece of paper and find somewhere quiet. With a clear head, you can start making a list; scope out what’s in the pipeline (or projected to be) during the period that you’re away. Get a feel for where the priorities are going to be.
This list will be your master plan for what needs to happen and enables you to do what needs to be done, delegate what you can (or engage external support) and identify what can wait until you return. The advantage of doing this is that on that first day back after a lovely holiday, you’ve already got the makings of a plan of action for those first few days to help to you ease you back into work.
If you’re struggling to prioritise what needs to be done, delegated or put into the pending tray until your return, run a quick risk analysis on a separate piece of paper. Think of your worst case scenarios and work back from the ideal solution that you’d put in place if these things happened while you’re away. Thinking of cost implications, reputational risk, sales figures, etc, will all help to identify the key areas for your plan. The additional benefit of this risk analysis approach is that in working through potential problems, you can also develop a contingency plan of what needs to happen in your absence if something goes wrong.
I also recommend notifying your key clients and customers of your holiday dates. It keeps them informed and shows them how valued they are. It also gives you a chance to explain who their key point of contact is while you’re away. If you’re intending to work remotely while on holiday, it also gives you an opportunity to identify in advance specific dates and timeslots when you will be available (eg) by mobile, email or Skype. Don’t forget to check WiFi connectivity at your destination if you’re indenting to keep in touch while you’re away.
Think about using tools that enable you to schedule things like your social media in advance, or out of office auto responders, telephone answering services, outsourced resource services, or other workflow systems that you already have established in your business. We love BufferApp for social media, and Asana for scoping out monthly tasks to help plan in advance each work stream. This makes it easier to identify what needs to happen, when, or what can wait until you get back.
I’ve devised a small business holiday planning checklist that you can access here to help you get organised and, ultimately, head off on your holidays ready to relax without the constant worry of what might crop up while you’re away. Use the checklist to build your contingency plans and ensure that everyone knows what they need to do while you’re not there.
Thanks for reading and enjoy your holiday! If you’ve got hints and tips to get holiday-ready in your small business, or stories of where you wished you had been, we’d love to hear them. Please do leave us a comment below.