Summer is here, and with summer often comes summer vacation! When you work for a boss, you simply submit a vacation request and, assuming it’s approved, your workplace simply goes along as usual, only without you. You come back a week later and pick up where you left off. When you’re a solopreneur, however, vacationing is not quite that simple. The good news is that you don’t have to ask anyone for his or her approval: When you work for yourself, your time belongs to you. Do you want to take a long weekend to attend your sister’s wedding? Have you booked a Caribbean cruise? Or maybe you would like to backpack through South America for six weeks. No one is going to stop you… but no one is going to automatically take care of your clients for you, either! So, what’s the answer? Subsisting without taking time off isn’t reasonable. At commonfig, we feel strongly that personal fulfillment is as important as professional fulfillment; neglecting your need for rejuvenation isn’t a healthy way to go about solving the problem. On the other hand, you do need to make sure that everything is accounted for before you book your trip. Here are some ways that you can balance your vacation with your clients’ needs, and minimize the risk that they’ll simply go elsewhere for services: Talk to Your Clients In advance of your trip, let your clients know that you’ll be away. If you work in an industry where appointments are the general rule, it’s easy enough to simply not schedule any while you’re gone. If, however, you work on an as-needed basis or if you provide services to the same clients week after week, letting them know in advance that your availability will be limited is the considerate thing to do. How far in advance should you tell them? That depends on how long you’ll be gone. If you’re only taking off for a long weekend, a few days’ notice is probably sufficient. If you’re taking a month-long sabbatical, a few weeks’ notice is more appropriate. Come Up With a Plan for Regular Work Determine how you want to handle the regular work that you do. For example, I write for several clients. If I’m planning a few days away, I’ll usually get extra work done before I leave, if possible, or ask if they don’t mind a short lapse. For more time than that, I have planned to work a few hours while on vacation or I’ve outsourced some of the work to other dependable writers (with the client’s knowledge, of course). Depending on your industry, you may be able to rely on your network of business contacts. Here’s more information on how you can form a collaborative relationship with other professionals. Plan for Emergencies If you work in an industry that involves clients calling with emergencies, such as in the plumbing or dental fields, you’ll need to let them know that you have someone else available on an on-call basis. Find another professional who you know can complete any necessary work well, and leave his or her contact information on your voicemail. Also, set up an automatic responder for your email, alerting clients that you are away and giving the same contact information. Going on vacation is something that should not be put by the wayside simply because you own your own business. Clients understand your need for relaxation and time with your family. As long as you are prepared to handle their needs in your absence, they’ll usually extend their loyalty and continue to work with you once you return. How have you handled taking vacations as a solopreneur?
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