For many homebased business owners, vacations seem a distant memory of life in the corporate world where you had people to cover for you when you took a vacation. But when you're running a solo operation, getting away from the business long enough to relax and rejuvenate can be a challenge.
Janie Williams, owner and president of Janie Williams and Associates, a homebased bookkeeping and tax firm in Long Beach, California, offers these tips:
- Plan ahead. Schedule your vacation in advance so you can plan your workload around your time off.
- Build a backup network. Line up people you trust to handle work that can't wait while you're gone.
- Notify your clients. About a week before you leave, tell your clients you'll be unavailable. You may need to tell them sooner if it means rescheduling their work. "Most clients are understanding," says Williams. "They know you need to get away, and they'll usually work with you."
- Take some of your work with you. Sometimes a change of scenery is worthwhile even if you can't totally escape your business. Use faxes, portable computers and modems to keep up while you enjoy some time at a resort.
- Consider taking several short breaks instead of one long vacation. "I don't see how anyone who is [homebased] could take a month-long vacation," saysWilliams. But you can take a Friday-through-Monday break without your clients even being aware you were gone.
Whether you believe vacations are valuable or a waste of time, it's a good idea to structure your business so you can take time off if necessary. Williams learned this lesson the hard way when she became ill and was unable to work at the end of the tax season last year. "If something happens and you end up bedridden or in the hospital, who's going to take care of your clients?" she asks. "Not just for vacations, but in case of illness or other emergencies, you need a plan in place."
Jacquelyn Lynn is a freelance business writer in Winter Park, Florida.