Vacationing as a Small Business Owner: How to Take a Break without Going Bankrupt

September 2, 2015

On Sunday, Armon and I are off for almost two weeks for our first true vacation in I don’t know how long! We’ve been dreaming of going to London together ever since I studied abroad in college, and after the tough summer we’ve had, we decided to stop dreaming and start doing. This will be Armon’s first time to Europe, and I am over the moon to spend 12 solid days exploring London and Paris hand-in-hand with the love of my life!

And did I mention I’m not taking my laptop? We’ll be gone for almost two weeks, in the thick of my busy season, and I’m not planning on doing any work whatsoever while we’re away. No checking email, no sneaking in client work on the side, nothing but dreaming big over lattes in sidewalk cafes and sharing those dreams with my husband. You may be wondering how in the world I’ll be managing this, and how I am not hyperventilating at the sheer thought of leaving my business for 12 straight days! Well boss lady, I’m a big believer in being fully present in every season of your life, especially for those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that may not come anytime soon. And if there’s one lesson I’ve learned throughout my years as a small business owner, it’s that intentional time for uninterrupted rest and refresh is crucial for refueling your creativity, and ensuring you are your best self for your clients. So how did I manage to make this long, restful vacation happen?

vacationing as a small business owner: how to take a break without going bankrupt (or losing your mind!) | b is for bonnie design

Schedule Projects in Advance

Well, I started months before we even had our plane tickets booked or our AirBNB meticulously chosen. I’m blessed in the fact that my branding services often book months in advance, so I am able to create my work calendar around holidays, family vacations, and conferences. If Armon and I know a few months ahead of time that we want to go out of town during the month of September, I can look at my calendar and set aside a few dates that aren’t open to new client bookings.

For months when I already have clients booked, I’ll simply see if I can work around those projects without leaving someone high and dry for an extended period of time. It would be awful to just start your branding project only to have your designer go to Spain for a week, right?

Share the Good News!

Once our travel dates are decided and tickets are booked, make that common knowledge. I will include upcoming out of office dates in my email signature a month or two ahead of time to ensure that there’s no surprise when I leave the office. About two or three weeks out from my trip, I’ll also send an email to each of my current clients to let them know that I’ll be out of the office with either limited or no access to email, depending on the circumstances. I’ve found that they not only appreciate the heads up, but they also are able to better prioritize any items that need to be finalized before my time away.

Prepare Your Blog + Social Media

If I’m gone for any length of time and I know I won’t have easy access to internet, I’ll schedule out all my social media posts and blog posts beforehand. This ensures that there won’t be complete radio silence on any of my platforms for an extended period of time! If you’re like me, you probably can’t fathom the idea of having to create enough content to last the duration of your trip, on top of packing, planning your itinerary and actually getting there. So instead of writing all new content for a full 12 days, I like to mix in oldies but goodies from the blog.

If you’ve been blogging for a few months, there’s no way all of your followers on social media could have ready every post. So rediscover some of your favorites, and some of your most popular posts, and revamp that content to work well as an Instagram post, Facebook post or tweet. If you’d prefer to not create any content for your blog, then simply announce that you’ll be out of town for a few days and will pick back up when you return. That way, any new blog visitors won’t be perplexed by your lack of recent posts.

Set Your Auto-Responder

It’s here! The day you’ve been waiting for as soon as you booked your plane ticket! When you’re jetting out of town, don’t forget to put up an informative auto-responder that will help field questions, and clearly communicate to the recipient when they can expect a reply. I personally like to try to field the most common questions I receive, which pertain to custom brand design, coaching, and Instagram with Authenticity. I like to let people know the dates I’ll be out of town, as well as when I’ll return so they can know a rough timeframe of when I’ll be able to response to their original email. Lastly, if I’m going somewhere fun, like Europe, I’ll invite the recipient to follow along my journey on social media, and include my links! If anything, it’s a more pleasant way for them to pass the time before we can chat in more depth about their inquiry.

Leave Work at the Office

My last suggestion is definitely easier said than done, but it probably the most important of them all. When you’re going on vacation, you have to leave work in the office. Don’t take your laptop unless you plan on using it, and don’t check your email from your phone unless you’re ready for your blood pressure to drastically rise at the sight of all those unanswered emails. When I take time away from work, I want to be fully present in that moment. I can’t be stressing about how so-and-so needs this file and I can’t help them because I don’t even have my laptop with me. I can’t be worried about how tickets for the Illume Retreat are selling. I do have to love myself and give myself enough grace to be human, to have fun, and to refuel my spirit. Time out of the office, time that is truly work-free, enables me to not only be my best self for my clients, but it also provides me with the much-needed time to dream bigger, find inspiration in new places, and make memories. I can’t do any of that if I’m allowing my email to pop up on my phone every five minutes.

In case you don’t already have them disabled, be sure to disable any phone notifications while you’re away. I actually disable all notifications for social media and email on my phone as part of my office boundaries, but it especially comes in handy when I’m purposefully trying to spend time away from work.

Taking this time whenever we can is so precious to us, and I’m so looking forward to spending the next few weeks away with my favorite guy!

How do you manage taking time off when you’re a small business owner, friend? If you don’t, I really encourage you to make it a priority! 



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I'm Bonnie -- a designer, brand designer + strategist, writer, wife, and pet parent to the most rambunctious golden retriever this side of the Mason-Dixon! I'm passionate about building authentic brands, encouraging small business owners to chase their dreams, and spreading joy through design. It's a delight to have you here, lovely! Grab a cup of coffee, pull up a comfy chair and stay a while, won't you?

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