New businesses, like infants, seem to require constant attention. Between work and your personal responsibilities, there's seldom time for a break. The needs of your new business always appear urgent and unrelenting.
Finding downtime is one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face. Even during the time we spend with friends and family, we're tethered to our cell phones. The thought of taking a vacation seems impossible because there's too much at stake.
But you don't have to lose momentum or miss out on new growth opportunities when you take a vacation. Taking time off helps you step back and see the big picture. It provides you with time to rejuvenate so you can always give your best.
You've worked hard to earn the trust of your customers, and they will respect your need for a retreat. With a little planning and personal contact, you can recharge your entrepreneurial batteries and come back from your break ready to take charge of your success. Here are some tips to prepare for your absence.
1. Take care of your customers before you go. A vacation is an opportunity to reinforce your customers' loyalty by keeping them informed. Touch base with your most important customers to be sure your scheduled time off doesn't interfere with any major activity or sales cycle. Keep your message simple. Call or send a specific e-mail to inform them of the dates you're considering taking off. Then ask if there's anything you can do for them before you leave. Your customers will remember this personal attention, and it will increase their confidence in you.
2. Create a customer chart outlining any potential concerns. Before your vacation, develop a list of any matters your customers or suppliers may face while you're away. Whether it's filling a new order or processing a return, devise plans for how these tasks will be handled in your absence.
3. Prepare a backup person to handle customer emergencies. A personal connection to your business heightens customer service and can relieve frustrations people may feel. Ask a trusted colleague for their help as an emergency backup person while you're away from your business. Their responsibility is to assess a situation and determine if it warrants your intervention. If it does, they'll call to provide you with the details of the circumstance. Offer to do the same for them when they want to take time off.
4. Remind customers on a regular basis. No matter what steps we take to inform people of our plans, some will forget. Use electronic systems to remind colleagues and customers when you're going on vacation and when you'll return. A couple of weeks before you leave, change the message on your voice mail, set up an automatic response to e-mails and put up a special notification on your website. Be sure to include the name and contact information of your emergency backup person.
Like a nervous new parent, you must venture out and leave your baby at home once in a while. Use this revitalization time to restore your energy, reconnect with loved ones and find clarity. Be sure to share your vacation memories with customers to reinforce the fact that even though you were away, everything still ran smoothly.Speaker and consultant Romanus Wolter, aka "The Kick Start Guy," is author of Kick Start Your Success and Kick Start Your Dream Business.