How to Take a Break From Work as a Solo Entrepreneur

Your eye’s on the prize: that week-long trip with your favorite person and/or bingeworthy Netflix show. You’re ready to relax, put your feet up, and stop thinking about work for a few days.

And then you panic.

Friends Janice Hyperventilating

Because you’re taking a break from your business, you’re pretty certain you will:

a) lose all of your clients immediately
b) not have any money in the bank when you return
c) have to start your whole business over and why even bother at that point and now you’re headed back to that corporate cubicle you swore you’d never go back to

Hang on a second.

Reality check time: with a simple plan in place, your vacay dreams aren’t actually that unattainable – even if you’re the only person managing your business. (Or one of the only people.)

Getting your business set up for a little time off takes effort, but it’s more doable than it sounds – so where do you start? Keep reading to learn how to take a break from work.

via GIPHY

When to take a break from work?

Everyone needs to take time off, even when you run your own business. Being overwhelmed with to-do lists and responsibilities can make you lose focus and forget why you went it alone in the first place.

Feeling stressed, anxious and tired all the time, are all signs you need a break from work. You don’t want to head for burn out which will take you more time to recover from than a few days of vacation.

Some time off, rest and relaxation can help you take a step back and return with fresh eyes and new ideas about the direction you want to drive your business.

When you’re relaxed you are able to produce better, higher quality work which is why it’s so important for you to take time off from time to time. Rest helps you refocus, get clarity and rebuild your mental energy.

How often should you take a break from work?

Taking shorter, more regular breaks is better for your stress levels than taking one long vacation each year. If you take too much time off at once, you may start to stress about how much there is to do once you return.

That said, when you take a break from work try to make it for at least 3-4 days at a time. A few days off is great for your mental health as it takes some time to fully switch off if you have a busy, stressful schedule.

How to take a break from work as a solopreneur

Say you’re a solopreneur.

(Well, don’t literally say it. We can’t hear you!)

You do it all – from client work to marketing to accounting and beyond. You’re living your dream…you just didn’t know you’d feel like you can never step away.

You can, though, and you have two ways to do it:

Option 1: increase your working hours leading up to your vacation, so everything is done ahead of time
Option 2: find ways to replace yourself while you’re gone

While Option 1 might sound like a great idea now, you’ll never need a break from work more than after you’ve worked two 60-hour work weeks in a row.

Chris Traeger anxiety quote

So, Option 2 it is!

Here’s how to make it happen:

How to take breaks by outsourcing

In order to step away from your business for a bit, you’re going to need to know what exactly you do every day, so you can find the right people to support you while you’re away.

Sounds simple enough – but most people don’t actually have a clear idea of what they do every day!

Here’s how to break it down.

1) Make a list of all of the things you do every day. Include tasks and the approximate number of hours you spend doing those tasks.

(Tip: don’t just try to do it all at once, from memory. Keep track for a week or two – a tool like Toggl is perfect for this sort of thing!)

2) Decide what can be done ahead of time and/or automated. Do you write your social media posts every day? Schedule them in advance with a social media scheduling tool! The more you can do ahead of time (without running yourself ragged), the more you can relax while you step away. For the rest, move on to Step #3.

3) Seek out groups of people who do what you do. If you aren’t networking in this way already, Facebook Groups and LinkedIn Groups are some of the most active communities of entrepreneurs ready to help you out.

4) Use those groups to send out feelers for freelancers and virtual assistants (so long as that doesn’t break any of the groups’ rules). Be super specific about what you want, as these posts tend to get big responses. Here’s a quick sample script to get you going:

My team is growing! I’m looking for part time experts in: customer service (phone and email), social media (creating graphics and content), and any WordPress experts. Please email me by this Friday at [email protected] with the subject line “team member search” and include your specialty, your rates, and how many hours you have available each week. Thanks!

Also, specify how long you’re going to be away – that is, the duration of the gig. (Pretty much everyone who contacts you is going to ask, so you might as well nip that in the bud.)

5) Look through those email responses and set up interviews with those that seem like a good fit! There’s a freelancer and a VA for practically every need and occasion – not just in terms of specialities, but in terms of the gig’s length. (Some prefer long-term commitments, while others specialize in short assignments.)

Basic training

Training someone to take over for you – even on a very short-term basis – sounds time-consuming.

That’s because you have to do it to scale.

Think of it this way: if you hire someone different to take the reins every time, and you personally train each and every one of them, that’s a ton of time and energy.

You can’t be expected to do things that way – it’s just not sustainable.

Bart throws up his hat

If you put a little time into creating a training and resource kit, though – something you can send to anyone you hire for a short-term gig – you’re only doing that work once.

One of the easiest ways to train someone like this is to create a screencast video. Turn on your video recording tool, describe the steps to each task as you do them, and voila – instant training tool!

(Tip: don’t like recordings? You could also create a PDF, or share a guide via Google Docs.)

Go back to that list of tasks you need covering, and start recording screencasts of you doing the ones that can’t be automated. (One way to tackle this is to start on Monday, and for an entire week, record a screencast any time you do a new task.) Check each one off as you go, and re-record any that might need it.

Want to make your recordings shine? Here are a few tips:

  • Go slowly – this is true of your actions on the screen and your words. Remember, your new team member has never done this for you before, so slow and methodical walkthroughs will help them learn. If it seems too slow, it’s probably the right pace!
  • Use a headset to get clear sound quality. If your computer has an integrated microphone, you can certainly use it, but a set of headphones will make the recording so much more clear – and help prevent miscommunications.
  • Don’t use your team member’s name when you record. If you say, “Hi, Cornelius, here’s how you download the report and share it at the end of the week,” you’ll have to re-record it if/when you hire someone different next time! (Not that we don’t have faith in Cornelius.) Do your future self a favor, and keep names out of the recording.

Training Pro Tip: Once your screencasts are done, send them on to your new team member and have them create a checklist based off of the video – watch-and-learn style. By reviewing the checklist they create, you’ll find out what wasn’t clear in the video, and they’ll have a better handle on what questions they actually have for you!

Now that the video is in hand and reviewed with a checklist created by your new assistant, set up a brief training call so you can answer any questions they might have.

Put it all to work

So here’s a little secret – the absolute key to take breaks and letting your team run things for you is this:

Actually step away and let your team run things for you.

When it comes down to it, it’s as simple – and as hard – as that.

Because it’s tempting to keep checking in (and checking in, and checking in), but it isn’t necessarily useful. Making yourself available in case of emergencies is one thing, but if you’re paying someone to handle things for you, let them handle things for you!

So you’ve found out how easy it is to hire someone to take care of your business while you are taking a break from work.

Next up, is how to take time off during the crazy holiday season.

How to take breaks during the holiday season

The holidays can be a tough season for freelancers and solopreneurs. There’s no paid time off when you work for yourself. Adding the extra holiday expenses and additional social obligations to your already long to-do list might have you a little bit stressed.

Here are some ideas to keep you sane while you relax in the busy holiday season.

Be clear about your boundaries

Setting clear boundaries with your family, friends, clients, team members and yourself is one of the most important things you can do this time of year!

One of the best perks of being self-employed is that you get to make the rules on how you and your business operate. Get clear on how much you want to work this holiday season, when you want time off and when you need to work and then communicate it to those around you!

We asked some of our Twitter friends during a Twitter chat #SoloBizChat how they set boundaries during the holiday season and here are some ideas we heard:

  • Add your holiday hours into your email signature
  • Email or communicate with your clients about your holiday hours. Give them plenty of lead time about your hours so they are able to plan in advance for their needs
  • Create an out of office email autoresponder that informs individuals of your hours and when you’ll return
  • Designate “business hours” if you’re feeling stressed about completely disconnecting. For example, commit to only checking your email and social feeds twice a day. Be sure to reflect that in all communication
  • Don’t worry so much about making your clients angry when you take time off. Most will understand that you are a human and you need time to recharge. Also, many of your clients will be taking time off as well!

Plan your content in advance

Even though you might be taking some free time from your business, your business still needs to run even while you shop, travel and relax. You deserve time off but you don’t want to lose any momentum.

It’s important to try to keep marketing and customer communications as normal as possible. If you have been regularly posting on social media, publishing blogs and sending out email newsletters, then you have set an expectation around your content. Whether or not they realize it, your audience has been trained to expect regular communication with your business. Don’t disrupt the pattern.

Luckily, you have automation to come and save the day! Things like emails, blogs, and social media updates can be scheduled in advance. This may take a little prep work on your end but it will save you plenty of last-minute stress.

If you’re having trouble figuring out what content to share over the holidays when you are taking it easy, here are some recommendations:

  • Curate content from other sources.
  • Reshare older blog posts. The end of the year is a great time to do a “Best Of” social media.
  • Share personal or behind the scenes posts. Remember that your business is you and that your fans and followers want to see a more personal side of you. The holiday season provides a great opportunity for you to share more personality, behind the scenes or personal posts.

 


 

Use your time wisely

Taking time away from your business can actually grow your business in the long run. When you’re relaxed and not trying to force brilliant ideas, they are more likely to come to your organically. You might be surprised at how much inspiration shows up when you aren’t hunched over your computer.

It’s also important to note that this time of year can be a goldmine for new clients and connections. You can still market your business when you’re not at your computer. During the holidays, you are frequently spending time with people you don’t see very often. Whether it’s a cousin at your grandmother’s Thanksgiving dinner or a friend of a friend at a holiday party, these are people who could know potential customers for your business. So get that elevator pitch down and remember there are opportunities everywhere!

Reflect Back

The holidays can give you a little breathing room to reflect on the past year and get a jumpstart on your goals for the new year.

Take a look back at your metrics to find common themes, popular topics or peak posting times. Data like your most popular blog content, the month with the highest website traffic, your most popular social media channel and your biggest month of sales can help you to better plan your next year.

You can also use the holiday season to check in on past clients. A solopreneur’s business can depend heavily on their past clients and keeping in touch is an excellent way to keep your business connections strong. This is also a helpful practice if you’re looking to rev up referrals or gather testimonials for 2019.

Once you have a clearer picture of the year just ending, you’ll be in the right place to start planning big things for the next one… once you get back to work post-holidays, of course!

Here’s the thing: you created this business for you. And while there may be many reasons you started it, we’re willing to bet that one of them wasn’t so you could work all the time. You deserve to relax and enjoy some freedoms of self-employment.

via GIPHY

Empower yourself to own this holiday season just like you own your business. Take control of your time and energy, plan ahead and communicate clearly and be grateful. Because not only will you be able to enjoy the holiday season, you’ll be energized and excited to return to the business you love!

What are YOUR solopreneur tips for taking time off?

Do you have someone you work with to cover for you, or do you use someone new each time?

Are you an extensive planner, or do you wing it?

Tell us in the comments below how you get your small biz ready when you’re planning an absence!

Social Share
Categories

Get Actionable Social Media Advice (And Not Too Much of It!)
Get The Dash, your weekly social media to-do list, delivered straight to your inbox.

Never Run Out
of Stuff to
Post on Social

MeetEdgar scheduling software automatically pulls posts from your content library to keep your social fresh everyday, on repeat.

6 Comments
Leave a Reply