Contrary to popular belief, running your own business or working as a freelancer doesn’t automatically exempt you from the need to take a break every now and then.

This time of year provides the most obvious opportunity for some well-earned relaxation. In fact, taking a holiday is perhaps even more essential for the self-employed, as much-needed down time can have some positive outcomes for both you and your business.  

However, when running an enterprise, even the most simple of matters, such as taking a holiday from work, can escalate in gravity. It can become all too easy to envisage the near total collapse of your business whilst you are away. Such concerns can suck the potential joy out from your holiday, leaving you burdened with worry, and apprehensive about your return.    

Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way.  

Here are some tips, tricks, and hints that will allow you to walk away from your business, knowing that you are insured against any negative repercussions.  

Prepare well in advance  

In business, things rarely just ‘fall into place’ and by taking early steps to mitigate any damage done by your absence, you can calmly create the conditions that will allow you to enjoy your holiday. There will be much to do, but by spreading the preparation across a number of days (and even weeks) before your departure, you will avoid a stressful, last-minute panic.  

This proper preparation will also put your mind at ease whilst you are away, instilling confidence in the steps you have taken to safeguard things in your absence. Key in achieving this serenity is the next point.

Create a really good plan  

To guarantee the prior completion of as many tasks as possible, you should spend some time making a really comprehensive plan of action. To some this might sound like a fairly effective means of wasting time, but in my humble opinion, there is no better way of quantifying your duties, and evaluating which will need extra attention in the run-up to your absence.     

You should consider specifically essential things which can't be deferred until you return; if at all possible you should complete these (or leave them as close to completion as possible) so that they don’t cause any undue hassle whilst you are away.   

It can be quite sensible to keep a few days clear before you go away; as this will give you time to deal with any unforeseen circumstances which may crop up.  

Set an out of office response, but don't rely on it

A regular client or customer, might be rather dismayed to receive an email ‘out of office’ response upon trying to contact you.  

Obviously, these email auto-responses are a very efficient way of letting contacts know of your absence; the problem is that they are only sent in response to a contact request. In addition to these, I would suggest that you make contact with important clients and customers well in advance of your absence, giving them the opportunity to make requests prior to your holiday. This process might not yield any results, but is none the less a display of good manners, concern, dedication, and courtesy.  

Always be sure to include instructions on what a client or customers should do in the case of urgent requests, this can include urgent contact details for yourself.  

Of course you don’t want to be bothered by work issues when you are away, but by including an urgent means of contact, you can at least rest assured that if anything especially important does crop up, you’ll know about it, and won't have to return home to a nasty surprise.  

Expect the best, prepare for the worst  

The chances are that you won’t have to take time out of your holiday in order to address an urgent issue with your business, but if you do, having contingencies already in place can really help to lessen the burden. Knowing precisely how you will address a range of issues, should they occur, will allow you to implement solutions as quickly and efficiently as possible.    

A little creative thinking can be of great help here. Try to imagine possible problems which could require your attention, then come up with some easy to implement solutions that will hold fast until you return after your holiday.

Delegate well   

If you are fortunate enough to have assistance in your business, then now is the time to delegate those important tasks which will need to be completed in your absence. Just be careful that you don't overload your team members, unfairly burden them, or give them tasks outside of their abilities. Equally be sure to express your gratitude for their extra work, and make sure they know you appreciate their efforts.

Delegating tasks is also a good way of demonstrating the trust that you have in your team, which can be a great little boost for morale!  

Switch off the phone  

I know it is essential to carry a phone at all times, especially when you are on holiday, but that doesn't mean that it needs to be switched on. It is both a blessing and a curse that smartphones are now like mobile offices in your pocket, and the trick to preventing your's from impinging on your down time, is knowing when to switch it off.  

If you must check your phone, then resign yourself to do it just once a day. It can be a good idea to do this outside of your usual office hours, as this will lessen the temptation to become engaged in work conversations.  

Keep important details on hand  

Again it is very unlikely that you will need any of this information, but simply knowing that it is there, can really help you to relax over the course of your break.  

Don’t let yourself get into the situation of being in some foreign land without important contact details- you might need them when you least expect it and have great difficulty in accessing them.  

Take particular care with regards to your IT system- these tend to wait for the most inopportune moments to crash, and can rarely wait for long before needing to be fixed. You should find out and make a note of your technical points of contact; it can also be prudent to let them know that you will be taking a leave of absence, and inform them of your emergency contact details, just in case.

The most important point of all

Enjoy your time away and don’t let worries about your business spoil the fun; pretty much nothing is so urgent that it cannot wait until you return. Taking a proper break from things will refresh, and reenergise you, and this in turn will bring some great benefits to your business, so it would be unprofessional and selfish not to take this opportunity!