Business owners are notorious for not taking vacations. According to a study published by Ondeck Capital, only 57% of small business owners planned to take a vacation. Furthermore, a report published by the Xero accounting software company found that 85% of small businesses owners admit to working while on vacation, with 60% checking in proactively at least daily. Ok, I’ll admit those stats fit me like a T.
Summer is vacation time, but it is also our busiest season so plan ahead and find a time that works for your family and business. The good news is that owning a property management business doesn’t have to prevent you from taking a vacation and enjoying time away. But, as much as I’d love to tell you it’s possible to totally unplug yourself from your business while you go on vacation for a week or two, I can’t.
That’s because I’m one of those business owners who won’t leave for any kind of trip without my smart phone & my laptop. But even though I check in on things while I’m gone, I’ve learned strategies to minimize the time I spend working. Prepare your business and employees in advance is key.
Here are 5 reasons you should take time off and enjoy a vacation away from your business.
1. Brainstorm New Ideas
When you’re stuck in the daily grind, it can be easy to sink into the details of day-to-day business. But if you don’t look up, you can easily let months (even years) slip by without realizing it. Time flies when you’ve got your head down and you’re working hard.
Taking a vacation from your business allows you to get out of the daily grind, and to relax and get creative. The best ideas come to us outside of work. It’s scheduled time in your hectic business life to stop, take a breather, and allow your busy mind to slow down.
I don’t know about you, but I have learned to have a note pad on my lap before the plane takes off. It happens without fail that as soon as the wheels are up my mind starts generating all kind of ideas. I jot them down and then sit back and look forward to my vacation.
Being in a new environment outside your normal routine will allow you to see things from a different perspective. When on vacation you are more open to new experiences, meeting new people, having new conversations, and creating new ideas.
2. You’re the Boss. You’ve Earned it.
Being a business owner isn’t easy, but it does come with benefits — like a flexible schedule, opportunities to grow profits, and, well, being able to call the shots. But so many business owners forget that they can take time off for a vacation and enjoy the benefit of being the boss.
I used to give up my vacation time when an employee asked for time off. Here is a tip – at the first staff meeting of the year have everyone bring their calendar and negotiate for their time off. 1st Rule – you pick your vacation time first. Guess what? They will work around your time off. Now I didn’t have to say, “No” to anyone and I got to take my vacation time. Why did it take me 10 years to figure that one out?
Taking a vacation means that you’re blocking out time to focus your priorities on yourself. This isn’t selfish. This is a necessity. Allowing yourself downtime keeps you from becoming resentful and burnt out. It allows for creativity, fun, a change of routine, and provides you with new energy.
I used to think vacations were frivolous and as the head of the company I had to lead by example…work all the time. I was very misguided and completely didn’t understand my role as CEO, Broker/Owner and Leader of the company. How can I lead or inspire my team if I am empty in energy, ideas, and vision?
3. Work/Life Balance
All business owners struggle with work/life balance. For many, work is what they enjoy for others, there is guilt around work time and family time. This is where knowing your WHY for being a business owner is invaluable. You can always work but you can never get time back. Learning to set realistic boundaries around work and giving yourself permission to be away from work is a skill that needs to be cultivated.
Your work matters but when looking back on your life in retirement what will you remember or regret? Prioritize family and friends and create memories by living in the moment. The maintenance work, leasing, onboarding new clients, hiring staff will still be there but I doubt on your deathbed you will wish you had installed the water heater sooner at 123 Picket Lane.
Schedule at least one vacation per year and/or a series of mini getaways. When you’re away “be present” and not thinking about your business or checking email hourly. Don’t deprive yourself and your loved ones of the benefits of having fun together. Kids play but as adults we seem to outgrow it. Put more play into your life.
4. Improve Productivity
Studies show that vacations help business owners maintain a happy, healthy outlook on life — which in turn, boosts productivity by as much 31% upon returning home. Vacations are directly connected with a happy, more satisfying life — so why deprive yourself of those positive side effects? As a side note – those that take vacations get promoted more often. Think of it this way you are leaving money on the table when you don’t take time off.
New ideas are generated, energy is renewed, priorities are reset meaning spending quality time with family and those we love are important and we have made them a priority. With new perspective and ideas, we are ready to engage with work with renewed enthusiasm.
5. Show Your Team You Trust Them
Taking a vacation also shows your team that you trust their skills and abilities while you’re out of the office. If you’ve trained them well, stepping away for a few days should be no problem — and for your staff, it’s a chance for them to demonstrate to you that they have everything under control.
Just as we have our vendors that we call for emergencies prepare a list of who your employees should call in the event the computers go down, or there is a maintenance emergency in your office. Prepare your team ahead of time. If you are active on Social Media preschedule posts or have staff handle it for you.
A working vacation is NOT a vacation. The reality though is that for some of us we can’t unplug 100% we need to find creative ways to check-in without getting sucked into work. Personally, I had staff check my emails, I set auto responders and I let clients know I was going to be gone and who they could reach out to if they needed help. Delegate as much as possible.
Doing this will help your team work together instead of against each other and is an opportunity for someone to demonstrate their leadership abilities. Let your employees prove that they can manage without you for a few days, and show them that you trust them, too.
A Note on Setting Boundaries:
While you’re away, make sure you have clear boundaries in place that allow you to actually enjoy your vacation. Let your team know what qualifies as a reason to get in touch with you, and whether you’ll have access to email. Establish protocol for how to handle emergencies if you can’t be reached — and put a “second in command” in charge while you’re away.
Notify clients ahead of time that you will be gone. I know this can be scary. I used to think that if my clients knew I was on vacation that they would think I was slacking. The reality was that when I did find my courage and let them know they were all incredibly supportive and no one complained.
Plan, Plan, Plan so that things go smoothly. Don’t take off on vacation the week a new website is going live, or you are transitioning to a new property management software. Set yourself and your team up for success.
Setting personal boundaries is so difficult for many of us. We feel we need to be available to clients, and employees all the time. The reality is to have a healthy business we need to be able to set our own boundaries and maintain them. We need downtime, time with family, time away from calls, emails, staff, and everything else that comes up as a business owner.
If you must check-in set boundaries around how often and when. For example, check email once a day, early in the morning, before the family is up. Or your point person sends you a daily debrief of the day, so you are still in the loop, but you aren’t responding to and making decisions remotely.
So, here is my tip as a Coach – It will feel uncomfortable being on vacation…unplugged. Notice it and resist the urge to check email or call the office. Learning any new skill feels awkward at first. Don’t sabotage your boundaries. Keep your word to yourself and your staff.
Take a Vacation from Your Business
The benefits listed here are just the tip of the iceberg. The bottom line is that you need to take some time off for a realvacation. Don’t let the warm weather fly by without taking a moment to enjoy it. Even a long 3-day weekend away can allow for renewed energy. Something is better than nothing. However, if you plan, and prepare staff, you will be able to take a much-needed real vacation. Your family, team, clients, and you will be better off for it. Life is meant to be enjoyed so create space within your work life to have a life.
I was interviewed about this article. click the link below to listen to the podcast: