Want to Take a Summer Vacation? Here Are Some Expert Tools to Help You Manage Your Business From Afar
If you’re an entrepreneur with a growing business, the thought of taking time away from the office may sound like a total impossibility. Fortunately, with a little planning and preparation, you can take vacations while continuing to manage your employees.
You just need to take a few steps ahead of time.
1) Set up your systems
Systems help your business run more efficiently, whether you’re on vacation or in the office. A few in particular you’ll want to set up include:
- Project management - Tools like Basecamp, Trello and Asana let you easily keep an eye on your projects, no matter where you are in the world.
- Document storage - Centralized cloud-based document storage systems like Dropbox and Google Drive enable you to quickly open and review critical items while on vacation.
2) Automate where you can
As you’re building your systems, look for internal processes that can be set to run without your input.
- Payroll automation - A payroll service can ensure your employees still get paid while you’re away.
- Task tracking - IFTTT and Zapier can automate several task-tracking processes, reducing the number of steps you need to do by hand.
- Customer service - A chatbot, like the one offered by Twyla, helps customers feel heard, even if you aren’t able to provide an immediate response while traveling. This is especially important, given that an increasing number of customers expect a company to respond to them within 24 hours.
If you encounter tasks that can’t be automated but don’t require your direct input, consider bringing on a virtual assistant to lighten your load.
3) Prepare your employees
Systems and automation are important but recognize that they alone won’t be enough to keep your operation running smoothly if your employees aren’t prepared for your absence.
- Make sure you have defined job descriptions in place - Your vacation is not the time you want disputes over who should be handling what.
- Establish a chain of command - Who has the authority to make major decisions in your absence? Are there any situations where a decision should be delayed until you return, rather than acted upon by an employee? Make sure these discussions are had with your team before you leave.
- Empower stakeholders - To prevent minor interruptions from ruining your vacation, give key employees the authority to make decisions on your behalf if the fix will be less than a certain dollar amount (for example, $1,000 or $10,000, depending on your budget). Show that you trust their judgement and they’ll surprise you with how well they’ll care for your company when you decide to take your next vacation.
4) Have a backup plan
Whether you’ll be out of town for a day, a week or a month, develop written backup plans detailing what you’ll do to cope with these (and other) emergencies:
- You lose internet access
- Your equipment is lost, stolen or damaged
- A client of your company initiates a major dispute
- A major operational interruption happens
- A key employee resigns or needs to be fired
- Your return to the office is delayed for some unforeseen reason
Going on vacation as an entrepreneur may mean you aren’t able to unplug entirely, but getting away is still a vital part of maintaining your work/life balance. Take the steps above to keep your company running as smoothly as possible while you’re away, and then sit back, relax and enjoy your vacation.
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