Why You’re Not Ready for a Vacation
(This post originally appeared on Inc.)
Do you run a business? Then don’t take a vacation. I mean it. Don’t.
Of course, I don’t mean not to take some time off. You definitely should. You need to make sure you’re getting out office. You need a breather. You have to re-charge. It’s important that you spend the time with your family. You’ll remember those times much more than the times you spent in the office. So go to the Caribbean. Take that cruise. Visit Europe. Knock yourself out. Just don’t call it a vacation.
You’re just not ready.
That’s because most business owners, particularly small business owners like me rarely take vacations. Especially when you’re running a business in today’s world. We can’t just leave our businesses in the hands of others. Sure, things can hobble along when we’re not there. But we have customers who need answers and employees who need our help. And there’s a different expectation today. People don’t want to wait. They expect immediate gratification. They don’t want to hear that that we’re on vacation. They want to hear answers. They don’t want to see an “out of office” message to our emails. They want to see results. Don’t worry–you’ll have plenty of time for vacation. That’ll be when the next economic downturn happens and things get really slow. But for now, your job and mine is to take advantage of every opportunity that comes our way.
All this means that even when you’re away “on vacation” you’re still keeping in touch. That’s because you have a smartphone. So you’re checking email. You’re responding to text messages. You may even need to take a phone call or two. No one says you have to be pro-actively reaching out. But you have a responsibility, as a business owner, to be available to those who need you and answer their questions so they can do their jobs. This may mean taking a break from the beach, a rest stop from hiking, a quick coffee away from the tour, and responding. And then it’s back to vacation.
There’s a solution.
That kind of stinks, doesn’t it? Well, there is a solution to our mutual vacation problem.
And that’s building a better business. One that runs on its own. A business that has an organization and infrastructure. A business with process in places and policies to follow. One where decisions are made through a chain of command without our involvement in every level of minutia. This is when you have a management team that you’ve created and nurtured who will march to your orders and follow the road that you’ve built while taking care of the day to day operational decisions that you find yourself doing right now. When you’ve built a business like this you’ve created something of value, something that can be sold for a lot of money or passed down to the next generation. But you will have also created something else: a business that truly lets you take a much needed, uninterrupted, blissful vacation.
That’s when you know you’ve really succeeded at what you do. I’m not there yet, which means that I never truly take vacations. What about you?