Early in my career as a professional pooper scooper, I didn’t think it would be possible to take a vacation. Then, when I added in pet sitting services, it dawned on me that most of my clients would be traveling during major holidays. This meant no travel on holidays to spend time with family because I needed to be available for my customers.
On the surface, this seems like a reasonable idea, putting my customers’ needs before my own. Yet, on the other hand, taking time off can benefit your customers more because it gives you time to unwind and recharge your batteries.
Even the Army allows soldiers to take R&R leave during long-term deployments because the Army recognizes how this time with family can make soldiers more effective on the battlefield.
So can you take vacation when you’re self-employed? That’s a great question.
Here are some suggestions for taking that vacation without feeling guilty.
Save up and pay cash
There is nothing worse than borrowing money to go on vacation. How many times have we done this? Have you ever arranged a trip, paid for it with a credit card, paid for purchases during the trip with a credit card, only to come home with a bunch of debt? The Bible is clear:
The rich rules over the poor and the borrower is slave to the lender. Proverbs 22:7
If you’ve ever done this, make a plan not to do it anymore.
Instead, decide when you will take your trip. Estimate your costs for all parts of the trip. Then, count how many weeks you have until the trip. Divide the estimated cost by the number of weeks and set that much aside each week until your trip. Your trip will be paid for in cash and you can enjoy it more knowing that you won’t be paying it off for years after you get home.
Make arrangements for a subcontractor
Use caution with this decision. If you have a team working for you, you might delegate work to your team. If you’re a solopreneur, you might consider hiring a subcontractor to fill in while you’re away.
If you do hire someone to fill in temporarily, make sure you train them or at least have the character to represent your company in a positive light. If you can’t delegate the work to a team member or subcontractor, inform your customers that you will be away for a short time. Let them know when you will be available again to serve them.
Communicate with your customers
Communication is key. Make sure your customers know ahead of time that you will be gone. Send a reminder just before you leave. If you have a subscription based service that requires repeat service calls (i.e. pooper scooper, pet sitting, or dog walking service), consider issuing credit to your customers during the time you will be away. This generates good will and is great customer service.
Activate your away message
Make sure to set your away message on everything that customers can reach you on. Set your voicemail recording, email autoresponder, Facebook messanger responder, et. al. letting your customers and prospects know when you will be gone, when you expect to return, and include a disclaimer that you will/will not have access to phone and/or email.
If you are maintaining a blog, make sure you automate your content. In fact, last week’s post, What to Expect when Starting Your Pooper Scooper Business, was published while I was on vacation. No one even knew until this moment, however.
Get into the habit of writing your content ahead of time and scheduling it to publish at regular intervals. This way, your subscribers will continue to receive consistent updates without you having to take time away from your vacation to craft new content.
Unplug and be present with your family
The best way to have a guilt-free vacation is to unplug from your business and be present with your family. In some businesses, it might not be possible to unplug from your business completely but if you can, do it. The memories you make with your family and the connections you build with each other will rejuvenate your spirit and make you more effective when you return to work.
I am already making plans to take everything off my phone so I am not distracted from spending quality time with my wife and sons. The only function my phone will have while we are away is to tell time and take pictures. Other than that, it will be on airplane mode. I’m looking forward to how freeing that can be!
Remember, there are some trade offs for taking a vacation. If you can pay cash, communicate with your customers, and unplug, you’ll be able to get the rest your body needs and will be ready to tackle your work without the added weight of a new debt burden. So take your vacation. You deserve it.