How do you schedule time off as a business owner, or an independent contractor in someone else’s business?
Today we are talking about how to take time off as a service provider. I am going to help to get you on track to make this a reality and not be stressed about it.
The Importance of Breaks
There is a saying, “Every sport has a half time.” The half time is used to regroup, review, settle down, and regain some energy.
Breaks are a necessity especially as you are leading a business. We need to be able to step back so we can put priority into the things that matter the most to us. Breaks are cathartic and help us avoid burnout.
As business owners, we are working with clients in a one-to-one capacity, and because of that, they are dependent on us.
At the same time, it is totally normal to wish for balance, and that is up to you to make it happen because you are leading your business.
“You have to create your time off.”
Legacy and balance are a part of my values, and the reason why I am in business. I wanted to make sure I had time off and could show up for my kids, so I made sure to always take time off, however, there is a lot of planning that has to take place.
I put some things in place when I first started as a service provider that still serve me and my team today, and you can put these into play so that you can enjoy the benefits of being a business owner.
“I hear of women who are building businesses to have more time freedom and flexibility, and at the same time feel chained to their computers, and cannot take the time off that they want.”
Here are some tactical ways to make time-off happen.
Preparation is a general rule of thumb and with that comes communication. There are several things you can put into place to communicate your wish for vacation.
You need to state what your vacation policy is in your contract. This should be part of the conversation right at the very beginning.
For example, I specify that I take a minimum of two weeks off. Also, if I’m going to take a day off, I try to give at least one month notice, and if I’m going to take a month off, I will try to give 2-3 months notice.
If I have a pre-planned vacation, I will put those dates in the contract, as well as holiday dates that I’m not going to be working.
Schedule around what the client has going on.
If you don’t have specific vacation scheduled in the contract, try to be flexible and schedule around what the client has going on. Don’t take vacation when the client is in a launch, and make sure they know you are honoring their marketing and product calendar.
As soon as you know when you are going to be out, make sure to put it in the project management tool, and also send an email with the dates.
Create a Plan
You need to create a plan for the people who are on your team, or for the solopreneur that you support.
You will also need to create an escalation process; if a particular thing happens, then outline who they should contact. Note what needs to be addressed, and what can be pushed to the side.
When you are in charge of day to day deliverables, you will need to plan on working ahead before you leave. You may be putting in more hours before you leave, so you need to set realistic expectations for what can get done before you leave, prioritize the list, and communicate to the client.
“When we think about preparing, the best thing we can do is communicate all of these preparations.”
You want to leave the business owner feeling that you are doing what you can to fulfill on the promise and obligations that you have made.
How do you arrange billing and invoicing when you are on vacation?
This needs to be stated in your contract, so that it is already determined and you don’t have to have an awkward conversation.
If your contract is based on deliverables and you fulfill on the deliverables, there should be no issue. This is the easiest solution.
If you get paid hourly, there will be a disruption so you can combat this a couple of ways:
- Increase your standard base pay and budgeting for the time you will be gone
- If your hours are increased your billing will increase as you prepare to be gone, and probably again when you return
Enjoy Your Time
Do everything you can so that you enjoy your time away. Taking breaks is really healthy, so make sure you honor your boundaries.
“Do what you say you are going to do, which becomes a lot easier when you communicate effectively with the leader.”
If you say you are going to be unplugged, make sure you are. However, if you decide to lead a team meeting, make sure you honor that.
“Standing in your boundaries and in your values is going to be way more important than compromising because of what you think is best for [the client].
Make sure you set up you out of office communication, which is good practice, and a reminder to your team that sets an expectation of when you are likely to respond. List an emergency contact, and let people know what is acceptable to contact you about.
When you are on vacation, delete the accounts that bring work to you off of your phone. Get rid of them so that you aren’t tempted to work.
“You owe it to the people that you are with (or yourself), to be present.”
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