You started your business so that you’d have more freedom and flexibility in your work-home life, but now that you've started, it seems impossible to step away for a vacation without losing momentum, or worse, clients. We get it! But did you know that taking a break is actually essential for your long-term growth (for both yourself and your business)? It IS possible to have a thriving business that takes vacation time into account. You just need a plan!
What it takes to take a vacation
As women and as mothers, it’s often too easy to push our own needs to the back burner. At Pepperlane, we believe in the power of filling your cup and that self-care is essential for success in the long run.
If you haven’t already, change the question from, “Can I afford to take time off this year?” to, “What can I do to make sure that I can I afford to take time off this year?” It’s a simple, but powerful shift. Now that we’ve settled that that it’s important, let’s talk about how to take time off without losing clients and income.
Planning your income goals around vacation time
When you look ahead at the next 12 months, anticipate taking some time off and plan your income goals with a break in mind. Remember, taking time off isn’t an extra—it’s an essential!
Take note of when your busy times are, and when your slower times are. Different seasons will likely carry different economic weight. Now, how much do you hope to earn this year? How much time off would you like to take? Try reverse engineering your income goals, by budgeting time off within the plan, which can help ease your anxiety about losing income. For example, plan for 48 weeks to meet your income goal (versus 52).
By planning your goals with one vacation (or more!) in mind, you’re not losing money by stepping away—you’re just planning to make the same amount of money in less time. It all becomes part of the plan, which can send you into your much needed break with less anxiety.
If possible, vacation smarter by taking your vacation during your quieter times. Just as a tutor would want to take time off when school is no longer in session, try to schedule your vacation during your slowest time of the year.
Communicate with your clients
You’ve determined that you’re taking time off and you’ve planned your income goals with that in mind. Now, you need to communicate your plan to your clients well in advance.
How much time in advance depends on the specific work you are doing, but for clients you see on a regular basis, letting them know a month or two ahead of time would be ideal. Allowing clients as much advance notice as possible helps them better anticipate and plan for their needs.
When you approach them about your time off, include a suggested plan. Some ideas include front-loading your schedule to complete their projects before you go out, or hiring temporary help. Or you try could collaborating with another Pepperlane member in your service category for coverage.
Having your suggested plan of coverage set when you contact your client will help them feel like the effect on them is minimized.
Front-load your schedule
Once your clients have given some thought to what they’ll need while you’re away, start front-loading your schedule to make sure all of their needs are met before your vacation. If you’re anticipating a vacation that’s fairly far in the future, you can even continue pitching to new clients. Sending out personal messages to your regular clients will build trust in your relationship, as they’ll know you’re keeping their needs in mind.
You could send an email such as:
Hire help for yourself
If you have clients who still need you on a day-to-day basis, consider outsourcing some of your workload. For example, consider hiring another Pepperlane member whose quality of work and work ethic matches yours. Be sure that both your new hires and your clients are comfortable with each other before you head out on your vacation, and that the coverage plan is clear for all parties.
Move past the fear of losing clients
Even with the most intricate vacation plans, you may still have some anxiety about losing clients while you’re away. Client turnover will happen throughout year, so give yourself some grace, expect it, and plan into your income projections a level of client churn every year.
Don’t miss leads while you’re away
Setting up your Pepperlane profile and work email address with an out-of-office response will immediately let visitors know that you're away on vacation. This timely auto-responder is essential for letting clients know that you value their business and interest, even while you are away.
Add a calendar invite to set up a meeting for when you return so that you'll be more likely to close your client, along with general information that you want your clients and prospective clients to know. Include how long you'll be gone, when you'll return and how soon you plan to reply to their emails, as well as any way they may be able to reach you or a colleague in case of emergency. In your response, be sure to set the right tone, just as Lynell Masterson did with hers.
Have new client notifications sent to your phone
If you’re worried about missing new inquiries while you’re away, you can turn on text notifications with your Pepperlane profile by going to Account Settings. After double checking your phone number, check the box next to "send text notifications," then click "Save Changes." Next, confirm your phone number, verify it with the four-digit code sent by text, and you're ready for new customers to contact you.
Understand the importance of a vacation
Work is work, whether it’s done behind your laptop (or kitchen counter or sewing machine) at home. As with any other job, your work brings its fair share of burnout and exhaustion. Taking a break from work will help you recharge.
In addition to improving your health, taking a break from work will improve your productivity upon your return. If you find no other reason to start planning your vacation, do it so you can bring the best version of yourself to your work.
As a business owner (and as a mother), the time you give to yourself is just as important as the time you give to others. With the right amount of forethought, planning and clear communication, you'll be able to return rested, revitalized and ready to get back to work.
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