A few weeks ago on Instagram I talked a little about how I’m taking the whole month of May off, since we’re getting ready to visit home and then move to our next base. If you’re anything like me, thinking about taking a whole month off from client work is stressful. I’ve seen my peers take entire months off, and my jaw would hit the floor. How much money do you have to be making the rest of the months to financially be okay taking an entire month off?! What do they have to do to prepare their businesses to step away for so long?! What about your clients? Emails?
Surprisingly, I’ve realized that you don’t have to be making tens of thousands of dollars to make taking more than a few days off work for you. As well, there are a few key ways that you can prepare your business for the time off regardless if it’s just a week or if it’s as much as a month.
I know that being able to take time off is one of the best benefits for those of us working for ourselves, and I’m sure that at least one or two of you are curious what I’ve been doing to prepare my business for the time away. So, today I’m sharing exactly what I did so when you’re looking to take time away from your business, you can feel excited instead of overwhelmed!
Know exactly how much time you’ll be away
I’ve taken as little as a few extra days around a weekend to now an entire month off. When you have clients, you have to know exactly how long you’re going to be away so that you know whether you can finish work with your clients once you’re back in the office or if you need to wrap things up before you step away. When I’ve taken a long weekend, I let my clients know that I’ll be out of office, and that I’ll get back to them the second I get back.
When you’re taking as long as a month off it’s a little different. Instead of leaving open client projects for an entire month, I’ve been preparing for this time by wrapping up all projects before I go offline and booking projects for June, when I’ll be getting back to work! This makes booking projects a little tricky because not everyone is willing to wait so long to get started, but by going on ahead and getting work on the books I don’t have to worry about finding clients!
Save ahead and plan for less income
One of the biggest shocks to me when I saw people take so much time off was, as I mentioned before, the financial hit that I thought people were taking. While it’s obvious if you’re trading hours for dollars and you’re not working, you’re going to lose out on money. However, if you know you’re going to have a significant amount of time off, it’s time to start saving and planning for a lack of income. If you have a team that can keep your business running, things might be different, but in my situation since I’m not behind the desk doing the work, I’ll lose out on a lot of money. That’s something I’m comfortable with, though, because I’ve been saving up for several months.
If you’ve already incorporated passive income products into your revenue stream, your time off would be a great time to work on marketing these things. For example, you could schedule social media shares about your paid workshop or write blog posts related to an ebook. You put a lot of hard work into creating those passive income streams, so don’t forget about them just because you’re not at your computer. You will have to make sure that you’ve got everything set up to manage itself. For example: will the ebook be delivered automatically? Would you have to manually add the students to your course?
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Let people know + set up your autoresponder
If you’re keeping clients on the books for the time that you’ll be away from your business, you absolutely have to let them know that you’ll be out of town, for how long, and when they can expect to get back from you. Depending on how long you’ll be away you could end up making a short client project take much longer, so it’s important to let them know your schedule. If I have a non-working vacation (meaning I’m taking several business days off in a row), then I’m going to let my clients know as soon as I have the time off planned so we can work accordingly to wrap things up or let them know that if they need anything else, now’s the time to address it. I like to add a line to my email signature so people know with every email (it’s easier to forget than you think) exactly when I won’t be available.
This is also a great time to set up your autoresponder for when you’ll be out of office for both current and potential clients. If you’re going to be out of town for a while and definitely won’t be checking your emails, you might want to include a colleague’s name that your clients could reach out to if something goes seriously wrong while you’re away (make sure you ask this colleague if this is okay before you do it). You can also include answers to frequently asked questions, your intake questionnaire, or other details for anyone that may be trying to book your services. Schedule it to turn on the day you’ll be heading out of town so you don’t have to worry about remembering it.
Let your first day back be a slow day
I’m sure you’ve heard of people who let their Monday’s be slow so that they can ease into the work week after the weekend. I think that’s a great idea, and I think it’s the best idea when it comes to taking time off. Nothing will be more stressful than trying to get back into your routine and having a laundry list of things you have to do for your business and personally. I’d much rather spend the day getting things ready for projects, answering emails, and running whatever personal errands I have than having to do client work the first day back on top of everything else. If you’re just taking a long weekend, this might not be as big of a deal, but if you’re taking a few weeks off or more, trust me! You’ll thank yourself for having slow time to ease back into it all!
So, how do you prepare for time off?
Have you taken time away from your business? How did you plan for it? If you haven’t taken time off, maybe you’re just thinking about it. What makes you the most stressed about taking a vacation away from your business?
P.s. Taking just a few days instead of a whole month off? Check out this post on traveling with a freelance business from October 2014 to see my tips on preparing for a shorter vacation from your business!