It has been, without a doubt, a stressful year and half with the coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc on small businesses around the world, and certainly here in the U.S. If you've managed to persevere and keep your operation going strong, you've likely earned yourself a little time off by now. While you may worry that you're still needed to make things go smoothly, if you make the right preparations you can feel good about taking your well-deserved vacation.

Refresh

Taking some time off gives you a chance to refresh and unload some of the burden you've been carrying on your shoulders. Stepping away for a period can help you clear your mind and come back more focused and ready to take on any challenges that still lie ahead. The stress of running a business can be overwhelming, so refreshing from time to time is vital to your physical health, as well as your ability to effectively lead. If you haven't taken a vacation since the pandemic began, start planning for some time off as soon as possible.

Make Sure Employees Are Prepared

Effectively preparing ahead of time is key and will help you better enjoy your time away. You'll be able to rest easier and eliminate stress by simply knowing the people running the ship are qualified and know what they're doing.

"Having someone else be in control of things for brief periods, even if it's just a day, will give you both the chance to see how things go and work out the details of your 'away' plan – and give you personally a chance to get used to the idea of not working on your business," suggests Susan Wad at The Balance Small Business.1

Be sure to plan for unexpected circumstances that may arise, because you never know what might go wrong while you're out of the office. When should your staff reach out to you? What situations can wait until you return?

Consider the Timing

You'll want to make sure to time your vacation right. For example, don’t plan to be out during your busiest period or when you are expected to attend important meetings. You'll also want to avoid taking off when key team members have already been approved to take their own vacations. Take a good look at your company calendar well in advance so you can choose an ideal time to step away. Be flexible if you can, but try to make sure vacations are scheduled at different times so you don't find yourself short-handed.

Communicate with Clients

While you'll definitely want to communicate your plans to employees, don't forget to also keep clients in the loop. It can be off-putting to a client who tries to reach you and doesn’t receive a response.

"It’s professional courtesy to let your clients know you’ll be out of the office so they can plan accordingly," says Susan Guillory at All Business.2 "Rather than them being annoyed, you’ll probably find them jealous, and talking travel can spark some fun personal dialogue that will help you build your relationships with clients. Set your autoresponder to let people know when you’ll be back, and do the same with your voicemail message. If you have meetings scheduled, be sure to cancel or reschedule them well in advance."

Really Step Away from Business

You may be tempted to take your work with you, and in some instances, it may be unavoidable. However, you will benefit much more from leaving work behind until you return. Regardless of whether you're traveling for a true vacation or simply taking time off to relax at home, try to unplug from business for the duration of your break. Otherwise, it's not a true break, and you risk losing out on the vacation benefits, defeating the whole purpose.

It's not always easy for a business owner to step away, especially in turbulent times such as those we've seen recently. Just remember that you've earned some time off and deserve a break. Being able to recharge can make you more effective when it's time to get back to work.

1. https://www.thebalancesmb.com/how-to-have-a-worry-free-vacation-2948302

2. https://www.allbusiness.com/take-a-vacation-from-your-business-without-worry-145815-1.html