5 Things to do before Vacation as a Small Business Owner
If you own a small business, you know that vacations mean more than just booking a place to stay, transportation, and activities. You have so many things to do beforehand to ensure you can truly BE on vacation once you are there!
Preparing in advance can save you so much stress and headache. It’s an active role you must play in preparing to be absent -- especially if you are the only person responsible for the day-to-day tasks in your small business.
1. Budget. Budgeting is ALWAYS where you start
You need to determine how much income you’ll miss from not working while you are on your vacation. If you are like me, then most of your vacations are planned well in advance -- because, well, budget -- and so you can then easily determine how many extra jobs or projects over the 4-6 months before your vacation you might need to make-up in missed income.
This may mean you have to work the occasional night or weekend. For me, it’s easier to take on additional photo sessions in the months before my vacation because I KNOW the pressure it takes off once I’m actually on my vacation. That way I can relax without the worry of feeling I have to “make up” the income after vacation. That’s no fun and I have no desire to be on vacation and feel that way.
2. Notify Your Clients in Advance
You need to notify your clients as far in advance as you can. This can also help gain more income since they’ll know they have to go ahead and book your services or buy your product before you’ll be closed. I love to put an auto-reply on my email at least one month before I’ll be gone. I typically don’t do this if I’m just going to be gone for a long weekend. However, if I’ll be gone for a week or longer it’s necessary to let my clients know ahead of time to be prepared to get things wrapped up before I leave.
Remember you don’t have to put your actual vacation dates on this auto-reply. You’ll pad it with time before/after (see next tip).
3. Schedule a Buffer Before AND After Your Vacation
Give yourself time before AND after your vacation.
You should absolutely block off your calendar to avoid having any appointments the day before you leave for vacation. For myself, I block off five days before. That’s because I have learned there are ALWAYS things that pop up at the last minute no matter how thoroughly I plan. I used to book as many appointments as I could the days before I left and that left me feeling SO stressed.
And on your return do not book any appointments for AT LEAST the first day back You’ll need that day to catch up on all admin related items. I know, I know you'll be itching to get back to work....and you WILL....just give yourself time to catch up on the admin side of things before scheduling any appointments for that first day back in the office.
4. Set Your Out of Office Reply
Set your out of office reply. I know that seems like an obvious one but DO NOT say you’ll be checking email or returning phone calls daily while on vacation.
Give yourself a break. Set the expectations in your out of office reply. This is what mine typically says:
Thank you for your interest in our photo session offerings!
Our studio will be closed November 20 - December 3 with very limited email access.
We will return to the office and begin responding to all emails on June 4.
Please click here to schedule a consultation to begin planning your next photo session with us!
Have a great week!
Obviously each business is different but try to limit the amount of email response you do while on vacation. Even if it's every other day...that gives you a break! Take it!
5. Schedule Social Media Posts
Schedule social media posts before you are out of the office!
If you REALLY want to enjoy your vacation, then please do me -- and yourself -- a favor and just try scheduling your social media before you go. Take an hour and sign up for one of the many options that will do this for you and schedule out your posts for the entire time you’ll be away. I recommend doing this 2-3 weeks before your vacation. This is not something you'll want to do the week before you leave.
I use Later and it’s super easy! They have a free monthly offering that will accommodate most small businesses.
You can schedule the date, time, add your captions, and your hashtags. Unfortunately, if you allow your social media to take a break during your vacation, you will likely feel the effects of lower reach later. Keep it all active by scheduling it before you leave and then just forget about it until you get back from vacation!
Handling these tasks BEFORE you travel will truly alleviate any unnecessary stress while vacationing. By allowing yourself to prep ahead of time, you are taking control of your vacation experience. You’ll be able to relax more knowing these things are handled and your clients have a clear picture of what to expect!
Believe me....I've been there...adding my out of office while I'm traveling to my vacation. Or rushing to post something on social media so the algorithm doesn't tank my reach because I've waited too long between posts.
These are just the few MUSTS for small business owners before vacation. What other things do you take care of before you are away from your business?