“How do I take a vacation as a solopreneur,” is a question I hear often.
Working from home as a writer has given me more freedom and flexibility than any job I’ve ever had. But in some ways, it’s become a prison because as a solopreneur or small, online business owner, it’s hard to take an afternoon off, much less several days in a row.
But it’s not just me. Many small business owners, whether they have a brick and mortar or online business, find it difficult to take time off. They feel like their business will fall apart and collapse if they step away. How can you possibly take time off when you can’t afford to hire someone or don’t want to hire someone to help shoulder the workload?
Plus, how can you possibly take a vacation when you’re so busy you barely have time to eat a meal (and not even a warm one at that) or go to the bathroom?
There’s definitely a way to step away from work and take a vacation. Whether your business is small, or you work alone, entrepreneurs all over the world take worry-free vacations all the time.
The Worries You Have About Taking a Vacation and Leaving Your Work Behind
For the record, I still personally think it’s a good idea to keep a teeny tiny connection to your business even when you’re on a worry-free vacation. And by connection, I mean, monitor your emails.
The only reason I say this is that some type of emergency could come up like someone hacks into your business bank account and drains it. Or you may be expecting to hear back from that dream client you spoke with and pitched your services to, and they hadn’t emailed you back yet before you went on vacation.
However, make sure that you don’t stay glued to your email inbox since that defeats the purpose of vacation. Here are some common worries freelance writers have about leaving the work behind when they go on vacation:
- Should you put off vacation until you make more money and your business is more stable?
- What if your writing business takes a nose-dive and you can never recover?
- Is it wise to spend money on a vacation right now?
- What if there’s a business emergency, and you end up losing a client?
- Shouldn’t you always be available to your clients? Don’t they expect that?
- Everyone says that you should always be hustling hard, am I slacking off if I take a vacation?
These worries are typical but remember, other solopreneurs take regular vacations and spend time with family. And it’s not just wealthy entrepreneurs that take long breaks. So, it is quite possible to take a worry-free vacation even if you’re the only person working in your business.
Why It’s Critical to Take a Vacation Whenever You Can
Many people think that when you work from home, it’s not really a job. That simply is just not true. I work harder on my two businesses than most other careers I’ve had. It’s more mental than physical, which can make you just as tired if not more than a job that requires more physical activity.
One of the biggest problems of working from home is that it’s difficult to unplug from work. I actually work more hours than I did as a police officer working 12-hour shifts. Thankfully, I love what I do, but burnout is a real thing, and you need to avoid it because it will force you to take a break at the worst time.
I recently hit a wall, and it was a day filled with tears and feeling like a failure. I felt like a failure because my blog wasn’t doing as well as other peoples’ who had only been blogging for six months. It was crushing and set me back even further.
When you over-hustle, burnout prevents you from working on your business for anywhere from a day to MANY days. Going on vacation lets you take a healthy break from your business, so you feel refreshed and it boosts your creativity. Planning a break works much better than burning out when your business needs you the mo
How Do You Know When It’s Time to Take a Vacation?
I’ve gotten to the point now where taking a break feels like I’m getting lazy. I don’t just sit and watch television shows. I need to work while I’m watching TV, whether that’s creating Pinterest pins, writing an article, etc. Obviously, I’m a workaholic, and that’s simply just not healthy. Most humans aren’t programmed to take breaks. We think it’s lazy.
When you feel like all your resources have run out, it’s time to take a break. In fact, you should take small breaks every day and weekly breaks like a couple of days off in a row. Also, it’s a great idea to get away monthly, like going out of town to meet friends and then go away for an extended vacation at least once a year.
If you’re in the early hustle stage where you’re just starting, you may not be able to afford a longer vacation. But you can have a staycation just don’t go anywhere near your work or significantly reduce how much time you spend working. Self-care and vacationing are critical to your success as a business owner.
How Long Should Your Worry-Free Vacation Be?
The answer to that is, it depends! It depends on how much money you have for a vacation, how long you can realistically take off from work as well as your other responsibilities. If you want to get away alone for a writer’s retreat, how long can you get away from your kids and the family? If you’re going to take a vacation at the beach, do you have other obligations to clients or family members? Are you a presenter in a summit coming up or hosting a giveaway?
Even if you have work obligations, there are still ways to take a worry-free vacation, and we’ll talk about them in a little bit.
Plan Your Worry-Free Vacation in Advance.
Planning your vacation makes it easier to step away from your business for a much-deserved break. Taking spontaneous, quick trips is fun but stepping away from your work for several days, requires planning.
Look at your calendar to figure out when you can take time away. If you have a lot of client work in a particular month or you’re launching a new course, those aren’t the best times to go away on vacation. If you want to take a break with the whole family, it’s best to go on vacation when the kids are out of school for a holiday or summer break.
Here are some ways to plan that truly make taking a vacation as a solopreneur possible.
Make a List of Priorities
Once you’ve scheduled your vacation, the next task is to make a list of all the things that need to be done before you leave. Just get everything out of your head and onto paper. Not everything on the list will make the final cut.
Circle the most important things to be done. Usually, that includes all the aspects of your business that grow your email list and make you money. For a service-based business, critical tasks include your work for clients. My client work comes before any work on this blog because it pays the bills.
At the same time, choose the items that don’t go on your priority list. Take the things off your list that won’t negatively impact your business if you wait to do them. That may be updating your website, creating a new opt-in, free discovery calls—you get the gist. Trust me; there are many things on your list that will keep until you get back.
Plan Your Content in Advance
Marketing is a critical part of any small business, and that usually entails generating content and publishing it. It’s no different for writers and, in fact, writers and bloggers probably create more content.
Most of us plan all our content in advance, and you should, for many reasons. If you don’t, you should start immediately and not just for vacation planning. Batching is a fantastic productivity booster you can use to create content faster. It allows you to create more content faster because you’re not switching between different tasks.
You can plan out all of your social media and blog content in advance so that it’s all on autopilot when you step away.
It is a smart marketing tactic and how every successful business owner pumps out the volume of content that they do. When I first started, I thought it was so simple that it was almost cheating, but it’s not. Repurposing content is a smart marketing strategy, and it is how every successful business owner creates the large amounts of content that do regularly.
It would be a good idea to schedule content for a little bit before you leave and after you get back as well. People rarely come home and immediately go back to work. There are household chores to do, such as luggage to unpack and laundry to wash. I recommend easing into your first workday after vacation.
So, how do you post all your content when you’re not working. It’s called automating my friend.
Automate the Things You Can
Today, technology allows a lot of people to reduce their workload and take breaks when they need to. You can schedule all of your content using a variety of social media scheduling apps such as Hootsuite, Tailwind, CoSchedule, IFTTT, Buffer, and more.
Most of these apps only allow you to schedule to a few social media platforms, but you can use apps like IFTTT and Zapier to connect the different tools you use in your business for even more automation. Automation is a whole article in itself, and I’ve already written on the best apps for bloggers and writers so you can check it out to learn more.
I absolutely love tools like Tailwind because I can schedule hundreds of pins for months and put my Pinterest on autopilot. There is no way that I would be able to pin as many pins and manage my Pinterest business account without it.
You can also automate your email newsletter, invoices, blog posts, and more. One of the biggest challenges to running an online business is growing and scaling it over time. To do this and automate your business, you need to put systems in place.
But growing and scaling your business is also a task for another day. Generally, you should start making templates and standard operating procedures so you can teach anyone else how to run your business if you eventually decide to outsource.
If you can afford to outsource, you should hire help as soon as you can. And I mean before you even think about vacation. It’s something I wish I had done earlier, but it’s also hard to hire someone when your income fluctuates.
But when you hire someone to do the tedious tasks you hate or the things you’re not good at, then you free yourself up to do more work in the areas of your business that bring in money. That may be working on your email list and designing new opt-ins or finding more clients.
How much do you make an hour? I guarantee you make more money each hour than you would pay someone to help you and free you from administrative tasks.
If you outsource, then you will have someone to help keep your business running while you’re gone on vacation.
Notify Your Clients
You may be afraid to approach your clients and let them know that you’re going on vacation, but I promise you they take breaks too. Planning ahead of time also includes managing your clients’ work and their expectations.
Let them know early so they can make adjustments to due dates and other monthly deadlines you have. At the very least, I would let them know at least one month ahead of time. Also, tell them when you plan on returning and answering emails again. If you simply disappear, you may lose clients, and that’s exactly what we’re trying to avoid.
Letting your clients know ahead of time is both respectful and a way to ensure that you don’t violate any contracts.
Create an Out-of-Office Email Notice
Creating an out-of-office email notice is easy to do. You’ve probably seen them before. Most email services have a template you can use so that everyone who emails you receives a notice that you’re out of the office and when you’ll be back.
If you have a calendar for potential clients to sign up for a discovery call, make sure you block out the days you’ll be gone. You can automate your calendar app with Zapier so that people can still schedule phone calls, and they’ll receive confirmation emails all while you’re relaxing on a sunny beach sipping cocktails.
Prepare in Case There is an Emergency
While an emergency rarely happens, it never hurts to be prepared. Keep your planning files in Google Drive or DropBox so you can access them from anywhere. I do a lot of work on my laptop, so I bring it just in case something happens while I’m away. Whatever you need to do to have a worry-free vacation. This leads me to some peoples’ idea of reducing stress when you leave for vacation. Some say they bring their work with them.
Do You Take Your Business with You?
Technological advances allow many of us to take our work with us no matter where we go as long as we have an internet connection. There are many pros and cons of taking your work with you.
Pros to Taking Your Work with You on Vacation
- It decreases the stress of leaving work behind because you can check on things and deal with problems as they arrive. This solution is excellent if you’re a Type A person who will stress out more if you’re away from your business for a few hours, much less days.
- You can save money by not hiring help.
- You can take more vacations and stay longer.
- For some people (those Type As) it increases your productivity.
Cons to Taking Your Work with You on Vacation
- It doesn’t work for all businesses.
- It can negatively impact your health because you don’t get to revitalize and reduce stress. Eliminating stress and refreshing yourself is critical for your mental and physical health.
- Increased creativity
- Eliminate the effects of burnout
- Improved family relationships
- Planning a vacation boosts your mood
If you decide to bring work with you, then pick a limited amount of time to work and then close your laptop and walk away. That way, there’s still plenty of time for fun and relaxation.
Final Thoughts on Taking a Worry-Free Vacation as a Writer and Small Business Owner
You may be tempted to put off vacation until you have more money, or your business is more stable, but you’ll never get the time you could be enjoying your family and friends back. Seriously! Who cares if it takes a little bit longer to grow your business or your revenue is a bit short for the month.
To run a successful business, you need to take a break or vacation away from home. You need to avoid burnout at all costs, or the setbacks will be costly.
Maybe you don’t have the funds or ability to get away for a week. You can still go away for a couple of days without breaking the bank. Visit family or friends in another city or state or go camping.
Maybe a friend or relative has a cabin you can stay for a weekend retreat. Camping is a very cost-effective way to relax in the peace of nature.
If you plan on traveling as a digital nomad which is the dream for many people who want to start online businesses, then consider getting a rewards credit card.
If you use it for everything, responsibly of course, then you can rack up points for free hotel stays and flights. At the very least, you can fly and stay in hotels at a reduced rate.
See, it really is possible to take a worry-free vacation as a solopreneur or writer with a small business. Make sure you plan it ahead of time and systemize your business so you can put it on autopilot.
Let your clients know that you’ll be out of town and get ready to relax and hit the reset button so you can boost your creativity and run your business efficiently.