Of course you can, but it takes some careful planning. First of all, you need to find the time. In an earlier column, I made some suggestions about how to create more time in your life. Some of the strategies I outlined there, such as deferring projects, hiring people to do things for you, and delegating responsibilities to employees, colleagues, or family members, may help you to begin carving out some vacation time.
If you do business primarily by appointment, send your regular customers a letter telling them you plan to be gone for a period of time. They can then arrange their schedules to see you before or after your vacation. If your customers might need service while you are gone, refer them to a colleague whose work you respect.
Ask your colleague to pay you a fee for these referrals (unless your profession prohibits this practice). Leave a message on your voice mail with the same information, so any new customers will also know their options.
In a business that relies on walk-in customers, you may choose to stay open rather than disappoint people who arrive and find you closed. If you already have employees, the key to worry-free vacationing may be to provide them with additional training, or written procedures. You could also ask a colleague to act as temporary boss if your employees get stuck.
If the business is only you, you need a back-up plan for more than just vacations. What would happen if you got sick? Consider finding someone who doesn’t need regular work, like a student, homemaker, or retiree, and training them to run your business when you are absent.
Taking time off can also cost you money, of course. The financial impact may be lessened if you take your vacation at a traditionally slow time of year. For many businesses, this would be during the month of August, or between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
You should also plan for the cost of vacation when you determine your billing rates or owner’s draw. To budget for two weeks vacation every year in a one-person business, estimate your business income based on a 50-week year, and your business expenses based on 52 weeks.
The difference in your income will be about 4%, so consider increasing what you pay yourself by a similar amount. Then put the extra money aside every month in a special account until it’s vacation time.
You can reduce the cost of the vacation itself if you combine it with a business trip. According to the IRS, travel expenses within North America are fully tax-deductible when more than half your trip is spent conducting business. Consult your tax advisor for more information.
Sometimes the only thing that keeps business owners from taking a vacation is their belief that the business can’t function without them. If this is you, try an experiment. Take a planned day off, and see what happens. If everything goes well, you can then schedule a vacation with confidence. If something goes wrong, you will know what you need to take care of in advance.
Everyone needs time to relax and recharge, so choose a time for your vacation and just do it! Your business will benefit from having a rested and restored owner.
C.J. Hayden is the author of Get Clients Now!(TM): A 28-Day Marketing Program for Professionals, Consultants, and Coaches. Thousands of business owners and salespeople have used her simple sales and marketing system to double or triple their income. Get a free copy of “Five Secrets to Finding All the Clients You’ll Ever Need” at http://www.getclientsnow.com