It’s not uncommon for people to take time off from work. But what can you do if your one of few or even the only employee of your business, then suddenly stepping away from the eCommerce store that you’ve worked so hard on just feels impossible to do?
If this is you, then have no fear, as you CAN take time off as a business owner and beyond that, you should not have to feel guilty about it either.
We know you love your business and it takes up the main priority in your life; you wouldn’t be hustling so hard if you didn’t but from time to time stepping back from work is just as an important part to play when building a sustainable company. With a little bit of planning in place before you decide to Jett off we promise you your business will still be there when you get back.
If you’re still struggling to believe you deserve that long overdue vacay, then think about it this way. If you never took time off, how will you feel about your business in a few months? A year? Three years?
There would be nothing worse than investing all of the time and energy that was needed to build a business from scratch, just to burn out because you couldn’t create space for rest or time for yourself. Sure, your business depends entirely on your time, but also your enthusiasm for it all which ultimately depends on your time off.
If this is sounding all too familiar then we have rounded up a few tips you can use to help ease the pain when stepping away from your business in order to get the time off you need and also massively deserve.
So, What Counts As A Vacation?
Before you can start to plan a vacation, you first need to decide what time off looks like to you.
Perhaps you want to fully unplug for a week or two, or maybe you just need a weekend away from your business to recharge. Maybe a vacation just means a break from most tasks, but your still happy to spend an hour or two dipping into the handle shipping and email replies. This is completely down to you on how long you are comfortable with leaving your business for.
The duration and structure of your vacation are entirely yours to decide on and based on those choices, it’s from there you will know how much you need to prepare for it.
So, In order to prep, you will be trying to find a balance between the two main ways to take time away from your business: whether that be hiring short-term help or automating as much as you can.
Hire Or Find Short-Term Help
Whether this is your first time hiring help, or you already have trusted people to call on, there are a few steps that can make introducing someone to your business that little bit easier.
Outline and document your process
Depending on what you want to be handled by your new hire, you will need to get your knowledge about those tasks out of your head and into theirs. It’s probably best to consider each task you’re going to hand over and map out what needs to be documented ahead of time. This could include:
Customer Service: Do you have any policies that live in your head, like always offering a hassle-free return for new customers, no matter what?
Social Media: Do you have any standard guidelines for figuring out whether something on brand or for you to share? Do you swear on social media? Do you handle customer issues there, or direct them to email you instead?
Shipping: What gets included in every order? How quickly do orders make it out the door? Are there any tricky issues they should watch out for?
Save Time For Training
Documenting your process is great, but if you’re bringing in someone new to hold down the fort while your gone, nothing will replace one-on-one time walking through each task with the expert (that’s you by the way).
Book a few hours with your new hire to walk through everything in real time before you leave. But don’t worry as you don’t need to take a crash course in teaching in order to get them up to speed. Instead, just adopt a quick and easy one-liner that’s been commonly used in surgical teaching for a really long time: “see one, do one, teach one”
Training Shortcut: See One, Do One, Teach OneTweet this now
For each task, show your trainees how exactly you do it, have them do one themselves and then “teach” it back to you and explain the process. It has been proven that people learn best when they are actively involved, and this framework helps you get them involved in the tasks they will need to know.
It might be the difference between receiving panicked calls about how to handle customer service issues and having an uninterrupted and relaxing time off.
Get The Major Tasks Off Your List Ahead Of Time
There’s only so much you can expect someone to manage when they are new to your business. You should aim to finish up anything major ahead of time and do everything you can to make sure your time off will be business-as-usual. Restock those popular items, make sure your shipping supplies are fully prepped and don’t leave any major announcements, campaigns or events right before you are set to leave.
Can’t Hire Help? Try a Swap Instead
If you are really strapped for cash and can’t afford to hire in extra help while you’re away, it doesn’t mean you can’t find people to help handle things while your away.
Turn to your community of other business owners and see if anyone would be up for a swap. If they are able to handle your shipments and customer services while you are off, then you can do the same for them when they are in need of a break later down the line.
Obviously, only consider these options if you have people you really trust and obviously not direct your competitors as that could just end up very messy indeed.
Streamline Your Processes To Create Time Off.
Perhaps help just isn’t on the card, whether that being hired or bartered, but that doesn’t mean every day has to a 12 hour day, or that you can’t work some downtime into your routines.
Automate Your Routine Tasks
Automation can take care of those routine tasks for you or at least take them off your plate while you’re away.
Each task you can set to automate is one less thing you have to handle while you’re trying to have some downtime. While there are some tasks that will still need your attention (the magical shipping robot is still yet to be discovered) you will be able to scale down your work hours by a considerable amount.
Update Your Customer-Facing Information
Your customers are most of the time reasonable people, and they understand everyone needs a vacation once in a while. Telling them with enough advance notice and clear communication that you are going to be taking a break goes a long way when it comes to creating time off for yourself.
Once you’ve decided what your vacation is going to look like and how long you are going to take off, you are then able to set the right expectation before you jet off.
Ensure any communications include the following:
-Exactly how long you’ll be away
-How it will affect their orders and interaction with you
-When they should get their orders in by to get their products before you leave
Let’s say you will be going away for 2 weeks, and all orders will ship the day after you get back, Your communication plan to customers may look something like this:
-A fixed banner on your store announcing that all shipments will go out on the day you get back
-An email to your newsletter lists filling them in on the details
-A short sentence/pop up on the shopping cart page
-Updates to your social media profiles
You don’t need to put all the info in every single update, but it might make sense to set up a blog post or an FAQ page. That way, you can easily link to one place for complete information. You could even switch up your Instagram bio to link to your ‘I’m on vacation’ blog post, which shares all the important details or simply link to your stores banner.
Offer Incentives For “Vacation” Orders
Not being able to pack up and ship out orders ASAP is, understandably one of the most nerve-wracking things about stepping away from your store for even just a day. After all “Buy now, and I’ll ship it in a week or so” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it for your customers.
That being said, it is possible to keep the orders rolling in, even if they won’t ship out immediately, that’s what promotions, discounts and bonus offers are for.
It’s still possible to keep your eCommerce order rolling in while your on holiday, even if they won’t ship out for a week or two while you’re gone.Tweet this now
As you’re updating your customers to let them know you’ll be off for a few days or weeks, simply explain that while orders won’t ship out until your back. They’ll score a discount or free gift by ordering while you’re out of the office.
Make sure you’re super clear on what orders are eligible for the offer, and what specifically they will receive. If it’s a discount you are offering, you can make it even easier on them by just setting up a shareable discount link ahead of time and it will apply to the discount to their cart automatically.
Plan For The Financial Implications
So, whether you’re hiring help, planning for a slowdown on orders, or offering out discounts in order to keep the orders coming, there’s one thing that will be constant: all those things will impact your business finances.
This isn’t a reason to skip your vacation!! But just like you’d plan for the financial implications of a vacation in your personal budget, you should think about just how it will impact your business’ budget too.
If you are spending money to hire short-term help, ask them for a quote ahead of time. They may bill by the hour, or quote a price for full service during the time your away, both of which can work but if it is hourly, make sure to plan in for contingencies in case they find it’s taking more time than estimated.
For example, if someone quoted you 10 hours to handle your shipping, you should make sure you leave yourself a bit of wiggle room in the budget in case they need to go over. You also can set a hard limit, and reply to their quote with the go-ahead for up to 15 hours. Beyond that, you’d prefer they leave the work until you get back.
If you have decided to offer a discount, bonus or free gift to encourage orders during a shipping shut-down, make sure you understand the margins before making any rash decisions. You will still need those orders to be profitable when they’re placed…obviously.
You Deserve A Vacation
Whether you’re gearing up for a few days off or planning a two-week break by the beach, with a little bit of planning your business will still be there and just as you left it when you return.
Beyond this, you will be in a much better frame of mind to take your business to the next level and also be on your way towards creating a sustainable company that can provide perks, like vacation time to its very first employee: you.