It can be incredibly hard for SMB owners to take time off from their business – whether that’s because they’re too busy, need to be around to make decisions, or simply feel they can’t relax without knowing how the business is going. But taking a break can be incredibly important, if not sometimes necessary to avoid burnout.
So how can you take that break you need and deserve without the stress attached? It all comes down to delegation and preparation. You need to be able to trust your team and know that they can handle anything that is thrown at them while your away.
Below are our 5 tips to ensure the smooth running of your business while you take that long awaited holiday.
Make the most of technology
The beauty of living in the modern age is that there’s an abundance of tools that can help you to improve the productivity and efficiency of employees, and streamline business processes. Emerging technology is also making it a lot easier to run your business remotely.
Effective communication is crucial for team productivity but most businesses still rely largely on outdated methods of communication including email or phone calls. With many options available on the market, now is the time to invest in communication software. From team messengers, video conferencing apps, and everything in between, these collaborative tools can dramatically boost internal communications.
Cloud-based software has become a huge asset for SMBs, improving team productivity and collaboration. Having the ability to access files, sales and stock data, financials, business reports, and much more, puts you and your employees in control. Furthermore, if you do need to check in on the business or a task while you are away, you can do so providing you have an internet connection.
Develop an operations manual
Creating an operations manual that your staff can turn to when you’re away can help prevent any human errors, creating piece of mind for you. An operations manual is the backbone of your company and typically includes documents containing all of your standard operating procedures (SOPs), your hierarchy, contact details and emergency procedures.
One of the biggest advantages of having an operations manual is that it reduces human error by holding everyone accountable. By detailing the company hierarchy, job descriptions, and parties involved in a given task, you’re effectively keeping everyone accountable for what they need to do, and who they need to talk to if there’s a problem.
Appoint a second-in-command
Pick a second-in-command to take charge of the business in your absence. This person should be someone you trust who knows the business almost as well as you do. Its best to appoint the position to an existing employee – ideally someone who’s been in the business for a considerable amount of time and has strong leadership skills.
Empower your staff
The smooth running’s of your business shouldn’t be depended on your second-in-command alone. It’s a team effort – which is why its important to empower all your employees. This can be accomplished by giving all employees adequate training and by fostering an open environment that recognises the efforts of each team member. By doing so, you are creating a work culture that encourages self-reliance, success and accomplishment.
Finally, believe in your employees and show them that you do. Trust you did your job right when you hired and trained them, and that they’ll be fine even when you’re not there.
Do a test run
Depending on the length of your absence, you may consider doing a test run or slowly relieving your duties before you take your departure. If you are planning on being out of the office for a few days, a test run is a good option. For a day or two, make the conscious effort to stay out of the office or away from your staff, and allow your second-in-command to handle any problems that arise. A test run will give your staff a chance to run the business in your absence, and will also help to identify any areas of the business’s operations or processes that need improving. Identifying problems areas early will give you the opportunity to fix them before you leave.
If you plan on taking an extended break, for example long service leave or maternity/parental leave, you should plan in advance who will be taking over your tasks. You may choose for one person to take over all your tasks or have them divided among employees. Either way, allow for plenty of time when handing off duties. Its important that the employee feels comfortable performing the task without your guidance before you take your departure. Depending on the individual and the task, getting the employee to a point where they feel comfortable could take a day, week or month.
With Christmas and holiday season fast-approaching, now is a great time to start preparing your workplace and team. Giving up control can be hard. But by following these simple tips, you will soon feel comfortable to take that well-deserved break you’ve been longing for.