One of the things that makes small businesses unique is the amount of personal blood, sweat and tears their owners and employees are dedicated to putting in, day after day. At Merchant Advance, we know that you work hard to make your small business stand out from the crowd, to make your customers feel like they can’t get the same experience anywhere else, and to compete against big-box retailers. Especially during the holiday shopping season, the originality and effort displayed by small businesses in their promotions, decoration, inventory and schedule management, social outreach, and customer service are second to none. But can you take time off from this busy schedule without compromising your business goals?
We all know what it’s like to let your personal inhibitions go a little bit during the holidays: one too many themed-sweater-related parties, one two many servings of delicious food, an excessively lavish purchase or two, and so on and so forth: dealing with the feelings of guilt that can crop up in the new year are often a challenge. One reason why many small businesses, and their employees, may feel this internal conflict arise has nothing to do with conspicuous consumption, but rather with the moral dilemma surrounding the desire to take time away from all that hard work to spend with family, friends and loved ones.
It’s only natural to want to put your nose to the grindstone and make the most of this critical end-of-year push, staying open and doing more! The fear of unexpected challenges, wasting time or money drives many entrepreneurs to forgo taking time off. Statistics even back this assertion up: According to the 2013 Sage Reinvention of Small Business Study, 43 percent of small business owners are taking less vacation time than five years ago.
Despite these stats, taking a well-earned break may actually do your business some good. Doing so may allow your creativity to flourish in a new context, exposed to ideas outside of the daily ins and outs of your business management strategy. Time off allows for new perspectives on old patterns. It also helps develop employee confidence, and reinforces the trust between a business owner and his or her employees in addition to testing the ability of different people to wear different hats and take on new responsibilities. Choosing the right plan, and the right people, to take action and carry out the business’ needs while you are away from the helm will show your foresight and connection to the rest of the team. Furthermore, being able to effectively schedule time off is a good exercise to prove and test your payroll system to make sure everything is in order.
Technology can also help quell the nagging feeling that things may go off the rails if you are not around to see things through. If your team uses a web-based collaboration tool such as BaseCamp,Trello, Asana or Evernote, use it to stay in the loop — but within the boundaries you’ve set for yourself insofar as the use of things like mobile devices and company email. With access to these kind of tools you can troubleshoot in real time without being tied down to your brick-and-mortar location. You will soon realize that your vacation anxiety was unfounded and that your stores are running just fine in your absence.