Arranging a vacation
from your business
By Carrie Madren
WI TH HOLIDAY GATHERINGS just ahead,
small-business owners may be pining for
some time away from their businesses. With
careful planning, unplugging from your
company will help you launch into the new
year with fresh energy and enthusiasm for
“You have to let go of control, disconnect
from email, voice mail and everything, to be
present for your family and to become truly
refreshed,” says Laura Wilkinson Sinton of
Atlanta, Georgia, a Costco member and entrepreneur with four small businesses.
Whether you plan to close up shop for a
few days or take a holiday, leaving others in
charge, heed these words of wisdom from fellow small-business owners.
Morris posts alerts on Facebook and emails
the shop’s mailing list, so regular customers
know what to expect, and to reduce the volume of email on her return.
When leaving her three-person staff in
Prepare for takeoff
charge, Morris begins preparing them a
month in advance by delegating tasks that
only she does, such as ordering from vendors
or working through problems. Then, on a
busy day, “I’ll hang back and let them practice
handling situations,” says Morris, “so that we
can correct any mistakes in advance.”
Other parting details can include equip-
ping employees with organized vendor or cli-
ent lists, banking or emergency contacts, and
any other information they may need.
Costco member Jane Morris, owner of J.
Chocolatier in Washington, D.C., closes her
shop for the five days after Christmas and
each summer leaves the shop in employees’
hands for a week. Before closing the shop,
Make a clean break
An auto-reply message for your email
and a new voice-mail greeting could refer
inquirers to specific employees or departments you’ve left in charge of particular
responsibilities, or could simply state when
the office will reopen.
To maintain your company’s online presence, schedule social media posts to go out
while you’re away, advises Costco member Jill
Salzman of Oak Park, Illinois, who runs The
Founding Moms, a collective of meet-ups for
Once you’re out the door, let go and trust
in your preparations. “You have to realize the
world will turn without you and problems have
a way of solving themselves if you’re not there,”
Sinton says. If you can’t completely go offline,
check in by phone—but limit such calls to once
a day, and then turn the mobile device off.
When you return, a quick staff meeting
can get you back on the same page with
employees and the flow of business. Sinton
suggests building a buffer day into your email
auto-reply message by posting your return
date as the day after your actual return: “That
gives you a full day to catch up, decompress
and keep from ‘burning up on reentry.’ ” C
Carrie Madren is a freelance journalist based
in northern Virginia.
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