The Boss Needs A Vacation Too: tips for running a business that can thrive without you

Written & published courtesy of Eve Henderson

When the holidays hit, it might be just about that time when you and other entrepreneurs and small business managers begin to look at the traditional 9 to 5 employee with a bit of envy. In all honesty, like everyone else in the business world, you just might need a break. As friends, family, and even colleagues begin to plan their time away from the office, you might begin questioning yourself and wondering if your business would have what it takes to stay afloat in your absence – even for just a few days or weeks. Or in all honesty, like everyone else in the business world, you just might need a break.

If you’re one of the few that can honestly answer that question with a solid affirmative, that’s great; you’ve found a way to keep your business both organized and sustainable by putting people in charge that you can trust to both run things smoothly and get the job done just as you would yourself.

If you’re like a lot of other small business managers, you might assume that leaving your business for any substantial period of time is impossible. If that’s the case, you might want to take a step back and reassess your current path to find a way to create a business plan that works for you – rather than just working you. One of the quickest ways to burn out is to refuse yourself time off from work. So unless you see yourself loving the office everyday for the rest of your life, it might be time to look into a few options that can help make your business a little more successful without its manager present 24/7.

1) Establish a benchmark for all your positions

Take a look at where you are in your business today. Are you presently operating at full capacity, or do you have yourself in many of the positions that you might ideally like to assign to someone else? It’s OK if your numbers aren’t exactly where you would like them, at least for now. What’s important is to create an organized plan that accounts for what positions you need to get the work done, and whom you would ideally like to hire to fill these positions. This plan should also include a provisional outline of whom each position will report to in order to solidify the full outline of your future business.

This benchmarking should give you an idea of how much leeway you have in hiring people to full the positions that may be more repetitive or administrative for you to be doing on a daily business. For example, is it really necessary for you to be doing all your office ordering, managing the business electricity, and doing the bookkeeping when you could be focusing more time on selling? If it’s not necessary, and you can afford it, someone else should be hired to perform the task.

2) Start with an attainable end goal

If your business was created with a solid end goal in mind, then you’re on the right track to systemized company. If not, there’s still time to map out your ideal company vision, mission, and culture. This type of planning will help you keep your eye on the ball, and help decrease your chances of loosing sight of your original business plan. Once you know exactly what you want to achieve and how you want to get there, making that link will be a lot easier.

For example, your business plan should include a clear cut ‘big picture’ objective – i.e. if you’re a football team, do you want to win multiple games, or do you want to go for multiple championship titles. The end result is similar – ‘winning’ – but the tactics that will get you to the two different types of success will be substantially different. Likewise, the type of team that you will need to recruit and train to attain this type of success will need to match your goal. Plan for the type of success you want, and keep in mind the type of business behavior, work ethic, and office culture that you would like to create on the way there.

3) Keep your customer base strong

Any sales manager knows that nothing happens in business until a sale is made. That’s why the ultimate step in growing a systemized company is to establish a business plan that fosters consistent cash flow and profit growth. This means you need to come up with a way to generate cost effective ways to find loyal customers that you can sell to again and again. This could be as simple as tweaking or perfecting your advertising, or as establishing better, more consistent communication with current customers to ensure repeat business. Either way, you should be working to target your top spending and fastest paying customers to ensure long term cash flow, and ultimately, a self sustaining business.

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