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Just because you’re self-employed, doesn’t mean you can’t take time off. Here’s how I make sure I can have a vacation.
Time really is money when it comes to working for yourself. If you’re not working, you’re not earning. That can mean a lot of business owners refuse to take time off. They want to make sure there is always some money coming in.
You need time off, though. You need a vacation now and then, and you need to be able to prioritize your family over your work. Isn’t that why you wanted to run your own business in the first place?
It is possible to take time off, but you’ll need to plan ahead*. I spend the month before I take time off planning for the vacation, especially if it’s for a week and I’m not logging on the computer at all. Here’s how I manage it.
Get as much scheduled as you can
As my business* is in online writing, I’m able to schedule out a lot of content. That’s what I do for the time that I’m away. It allows for fresh content to go up to prevent websites getting stale, and it doesn’t look like I’m away.
If you can do it, make sure you get as much scheduled as you can. Whatever your business is, you likely have social media to do. Get that schedule. There are some great tools out there. Right now, I love Tozo.
Delegate jobs when you’re self-employed
Just because you work for yourself doesn’t mean that you don’t have other people working for you. When this is the case, make sure you delegate jobs to other people. They will help to keep things running while you’re away.
If you are on your own, like me, you can look at outsourcing some of your work. This will depend on the type of business that you’re in. Of course, it means you’re seeing the costs for outsourcing come out of whatever you make that week. You’ve got to factor that in. Could it be better not having any work done at all?
Make sure clients know you’re going away
I like to make sure all my clients know that I’m going to be away for a short space of time. This is especially the case when the time off doesn’t coincide with a major holiday. For example, I don’t tend to tell my clients that I’m away for the Christmas break or for a couple of days around New Year. I take it that they’ll potentially expect it, or just be like “okay” when they see my email alert.
If it’s outside of the holidays, I want clients to be aware that I’ll be uncontactable. That’s what I did before going to Disney. I let people know a month earlier that I would be away and what it would mean for their projects. If I needed something to get a part done early, I could give them time to get me that. Otherwise, they would need to wait when I returned.
Set your wages corrected when you’re self-employed
You need to look at your rates again. As a writer, my rates always factor in that I’m not getting paid for vacations. If I take time off, I don’t do any work for clients. So, I need to make sure the money is factored in elsewhere.
This is something you should do for any type of business*. While people will say “I only pay my employees this,” you can counter that employees are paid for vacations, they’re paid benefits, and they don’t need to worry about taking sick leave. If a client wants to pay employee wages, they can hire you as an employee and pay the extra benefits. The costs will all start to add up when they look at things that way.
Don’t forget your email alerts
Finally, you need to make sure anyone who contacts you will get an out-of-office reply. This is especially important if there’s a chance of new clients getting in touch. Make sure they know that you’re only away temporarily and that you’ll respond when you’re back. They can then make the choice of to wait or to look for someone else.
The benefit of an out-of-office reply is that people know when you’ll return. They get an idea of how long they’ll need to wait. If it’s at the end of your vacation, they probably will. However, if they email you at the start of a two-week vacation, they know to make a choice themselves as you won’t be back. It doesn’t look as unprofessional as not responding at all.
What do you do to make sure you can take time off? What are your tricks for next time? Share your thoughts in the comments below.