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Take a Load Off Missing out on R&R can mean big trouble for your business. If you haven't taken a vacation lately, make it No. 1 on your to-do list.

By Talicia A. Flint

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Ahhhh. The sounds of island music drift through the air from adistant cabana. A tropical breeze brushes across your skin as thegentle waves wash up on the white-sand beach. You feel the warmthof the sun on your legs as you sip your mai tai and enjoy the viewof a turquoise sea and sky. Beep, beep, beep! Your alarm remindsyou it's only a dream, and you've got a zillion people tocall, plans to draft and numbers to crunch today.

If the closest you're getting to a vacation is dreamingabout one, it's time for some serious restructuring. Whileentrepreneurs in general can be stingy with their time off,homebased entrepreneurs tend to be even harder on themselves andeven more reluctant to get away. Karen Frost, founder ofWashington, DC-area Frost Media Relations, explains thishesitation: "Since my business is just me, I think there'sa concern from my clients that some ball is going to drop [whileI'm on vacation] and nobody's going to know how to pick itup. And as the company grows, there's even less opportunity totake a vacation."

Likewise, Stacy Brice, president and CEO of AssistU, admits being scared aboutwhat would happen to her Baltimore-based virtual assistant businessif she went away. When she took her first vacation in 1998, hersecond year of business, she gave her assistant a day-by-dayitinerary of her trip, with instructions to call if anything wentwrong. Says Brice, "Like any other business owner, I thoughteverything was going to crumble without me."

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