Quick Fix Tips: Prepare your business so you can go on holiday
Many small business owners feel they have to forfeit annual breaks away because their business won’t run itself in their absence. In certain businesses this may still be true but in many, a little bit of thought, technology and flexibility whilst you are away, can offer you the opportunity to get away in the knowledge that your business will still be running strong upon your return.
Prepare so you don’t despair
If you do take a holiday as a small business owner consider it a part-time break, where at least you won’t be working as hard as normal and a change of scene will help recharge your batteries. It is easy to say you should go on holiday and switch off completely but in reality few can. Your business is like one of your family and just like them will never be far from your mind. So plan the break with that in mind.
Be contactable and be able to contact. Make sure where you go has a reliable, affordable Wi-Fi connection so you can keep in touch online and update or tweak any of your 123-reg services as needs may arise. If you are travelling abroad, take a mobile phone and either enable international roaming with your current provider, noting any pricing plans they may offer to keep costs down, or purchase a global SIM card before you go that is suitable for your destination or research where local SIM cards can be bought in resort. You should make sure you can always call back to the UK and you have a number you are always contactable on. This guide from MoneySavingExpert.com is regularly updated with the latest deals and is also worth reading so you understand the potential pitfalls of using your mobile phone abroad if you have not made suitable preparations.
Even if you are not travelling abroad take your mobile phone, but also consider taking a second phone too with a pay as you go SIM card on a different network. You don’t want to get to your holiday retreat only to find the phone network that serves you so well at home doesn’t have as many transmitters in your chosen destination. This Ofcom page has links to UK coverage maps of all the main mobile providers which should give you some idea of the likely mobile signal where you are heading.
Schedule some social posts
Use tools like Buffer, Hootsuite, etc to schedule some tweets and Facebook posts that will make all appear normal to your followers, fans and customers. If you have a blog, schedule a post to go live whilst you are away and if new posts are not automatically linked on your social platforms use tools like IFTTT. This is where your internet connectivity via Wi-Fi or mobile data will be important again. Firstly, to check on any feedback or social messages that may need a response. Secondly, to adjust any scheduled posts that may prove inappropriate perhaps due to matters in the news or the industry you are in.
Consider delegating wisely
If your business is more than just you or those travelling with you, give strong thought to training others in the business on the things you do. Not only will it help you have more regular and less stressful breaks in the future, it is also a good idea for any business. Disaster, illness and just life changes mean too often knowledge and understanding of procedures and processes are lost when a single person is no longer in situ. By training staff not only will you create greater team cohesion but also stronger long term business continuity.
Employ a virtual assistant
You may not be able to leave full control of the business to A N Other in your absence, but you can certainly delegate some of the more administrative tasks so that you have more time to enjoy your break and it needn’t be to someone within your company. You can divert all calls straight to a virtual assistant service where their staff will answer the call in your company name telling the caller you can’t take their call at the moment – or whatever message you want to be given. The virtual assistant will then take down a message from the caller and promise to forward it on, which they can usually do via text, call or email depending on the service you have subscribed to.
Many of these services also offer free trial periods so in most cases it may not even cost you a penny, although you may quickly see the value of using a virtual assistant for when you are back from holiday. A virtual assistant may be especially useful if you are heading overseas. Answering calls from abroad immediately racks up costs but also lets your caller know you are abroad by the overseas dialling tone. A virtual assistant can avoid this issue as the call will be routed to their UK number and not to your mobile overseas. There are thousands of virtual assistants, some possibly local to you, which may be useful if you are considering a long-term commitment. Try searching online for ‘telephone answering services’. There are national and international options too like Moneypenny and office service companies like Regus.
Organise your apps
The wonders of smartphones and tablets include the ability to do almost everything you would normally do in the office, from almost any location in the world – as long as you have a data connection. Before you leave home make sure you’ve installed and updated all the apps you’re going to need. For starters make sure you have an email client that has all your mail server and account details installed. Import your important bookmarks or favourites from your desktop browser to your mobile browser. You might also want to consider using a cloud-based productivity package such as Officec 365, so you can switch seamlessly between working at home and working on holiday. Install an FTP client too and input your 123-reg FTP access details so if an emergency occurs you won’t need to scramble around to find details to put things right. You Consider mobile banking apps and any relevant codes or code generators you may need to have with you to access your business bank accounts while you are away.
Keep your absence quiet
You shouldn’t mislead your clients so if they ask tell them the truth but certainly selfies on the beach on your holiday might not be a great idea. For one, some clients get nervous easily so there is no need to feed that fire. Secondly, you may be able to afford a holiday but maybe your clients can’t and if you’ve just invoiced them – however fairly – it probably sends out the wrong message. Thirdly, if you’ve planned and prepared as above there really is no need to shout about your holiday, just go off and enjoy it.
Going on holiday as a small business owner needn’t be stressful it just needs a bit of planning and forethought. Make your preparations and go enjoy your holiday. You’ve earned it.