With a bit of planning, business owners can also take a holiday

Freedom to enjoy a work-life balance is one of the key reasons why people start their own business. Ironically, a 2015 study by Xero found that over half of small-business owners surveyed said they had not taken a holiday in over a year. The major reasons were because they were too busy, needed to be available to make decisions and were unable to relax if they didn’t know what was going on in their business.

The good news is that it is possible for SMEs to enjoy a well-earned break if they have holiday-proofed their business prior to going on leave. I run an accounting practice in Geelong and have been planning a 10 day break this this year and anticipate no disruption to my clients in my absence. Below are my top tips and advice for SMEs planning time out from their business.

1. Prepare your staff for your absence

Take the time to train and cross-train your staff before you leave. Cross-training staff will ensure that several members of your team are across your business if someone is away or sick.

Document procedures that your staff can follow while you are away. 

2. Organise a back-up person

Business owners should consider organising a trusted colleague to be available to come in to the office if there are emergencies. This is reassuring for your staff that they have someone to call if they need assistance and you can relax knowing that you’re not on-call to field questions from your staff.

3. Let your clients know that you will be away

One of the major mistakes SMEs make when taking time off is not being open with their clients and informing them that they will be away. Reassure your clients that your business will be carrying on as usual – let them know when you will be away and who will be looking after them in your absence.

If you are comfortable with some contact with your clients while you are away and you will have internet access, advise them that they can contact you via email.

4. Make use of technology

Consider making a time each morning while you are away to have a quick check of your emails – 30 minutes a day is enough to do this so you will be aware of what’s going on and can feel reassured that your business is running smoothly.

SMEs who wish to stay in touch with their business while they are on holiday can use cloud-based software such as Dropbox to allow them to save files on their computer and access them via their phone or tablet while away.

5. Review your holiday-proofing system once you’re back

Being away from your business can actually give you a great insight into your business systems and procedures and can expose areas of weakness. Take the time to review how things went while you were away and make refinements so you are ready for your next well-earned break.