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Author Biography:

Stephanie Taylor Christensen  is a freelance writer who covers personal finance, career, health,and small business news. She is the founder of Indebtedless and Om for Mom prenatal yoga in Columbus, Ohio. Connect with her on Twitter.@STCWriting or www.stephanietaylorchristensen.com

Summer & The Small Business Owner- You Can Take A Vacation
By Stephanie Taylor Christensen Thursday, May 29, 2014
It may seem impossible to take vacation days now that you have your own small business. Here are some ways to keep your business running smoothly while you're taking time off, even if you dont have a large staff! 

Taking a vacation is one of the great conundrums of owning your own business:  Gone are the days that you’re allotted only a few select days of the year to take a trip, nor are you required to clear them with a boss first. On the other hand, you may not have the support of a large staff who can step in to handle your work load—not to mention, your vacation days are no longer paid! Fear not. You CAN take a summer vacation, without sacrificing your business. In fact, you may just emerge a better, brighter, more energized leader! Here’s how to pull off a summer vacation, while keeping your business running smoothly.

Establish virtual access

There are many inexpensive tools (some of them are even free), that allow you to tend to business from nearly anywhere. Google Voice, for example, allows you to forward your calls to your cell phone (the caller will never know), so you can see who is calling, and determine if you want to take the call, or send it to “voicemail”—which is actually delivered to your email. Cloud computing systems like Dropbox, Evernote, and even Google Drive help to ensure that you can access the files you need from the office, on your computer—and ensure your team also has access to the most current version of files you may spend some time working on during your travels.

Set expectations in advance

You’re probably already in the habit of setting an “out of office” notification on your email and voicemail when you travel, but adding detail to your message can set expectations with customers and vendors to ease the stress on your staff (and yourself, when you return from your trip). If you intend to check emails every morning on your vacation, for example, customize your auto-responder to tell senders when they can expect a response. Conversely, if you don’t intend to think about any business matters on your time off, assign a point person on your team who will tend to the pressing matters. Schedule times that you’ll call to check in with that person, to answer to urgent needs. You might also add a widget like Calendly to your website or email autoresponder so clients can self-book appointments to meet with you when you return.

Define what needs to be done

Setting priorities for your team at least three days before you depart for your trip is the key to ensuring that necessary business functions don’t get neglected when you’re traveling, and allows you to free your mind of business worries. In tandem, be mindful of how you want your staff to use their time in your absence. If there are some routine tasks that can be postponed during your absence, let your team know that you’d rather them veer from the “norm” temporarily, so they’re able to give their full focus to the pressing business matters that you typically handle.

Set up an alternative email for VIPs

The problem with checking on work email while you travel? It instantly transports you right out of your vacation mindset, and back into work mode. Consider establishing a private email account that you’ll give only to employees and key clients to use in case of emergency. That way, you have the piece of mind that you’re always in touch with the urgent needs—without exposing yourself to the stress of seeing hundreds of emails in your “public” email inbox while you’re away.

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