We often hear about a friend’s vacation and think, “That would be nice.” That is followed by a litany of excuses of why that couldn’t possibly be us. Things like “I can’t take vacation days,” or “My business would fail if I am not in the office.” The problem is the cloud has made those normal excuses obsolete.
Virtual platforms now allow you to leave the office and still do everything you used to have to go to an office to do. The click of a button on a phone app can now facilitate your business moving forward, even if you are away. So, what if our view of vacation is as obsolete as our excuses? What if your business actually needed you to take an 8-week vacation? Let’s dive in to this a little deeper.
Just a little background … my husband, Greg, and I run a cloud-based accounting firm together, and we also have four kids (one biological and three adopted). When the kids were newly adopted, we were determined to take a longer vacation to introduce our new blended family to our extended family spread out across the country. That determination led to excitement. That excitement turned into a plan. That plan turned into reality.
The first step to taking an extended vacation is to find something that motivates you more than, “That would be nice.” Getting your business prepared for your absence takes some work, and without that “Big Why,” you won’t have the drive. What drives you? What would motivate you to take an extended vacation? Unplugging and resting are great byproducts, but might not be enough to motivate. Dreaming of a bigger “Why” to your vacation will give you that motivation.
We talked a little about your needs, but the title of this article is, “Does your business need you to take an 8-week vacation?” Most likely, there are things you are doing in your company that can be done by someone else. There are also most likely things that no one’s doing that only you could do. When you go away for an extended period, you will find gaps and you may discover team talents you didn’t know existed. Both of these are critical for your business success.
Earlier, I said it takes work to get prepared. Greg and I worked for a year, getting our company to a place that we felt like we could leave without a collapse. We processed and mapped everything that we did, from sales intake forms, to contracts, to onboarding, to implementation, to monthly accounting work. We used a work flow system called Karbon to create a template for each of these areas … and still do to this day. We tried to catch any and every item that would be included. We tried to make sure every process had the Xcelerate way written all over it.
This was weird at first because we were actually replacing ourselves. We even wondered what would we do when we got back. We were willing to hire team members better than ourselves, in hopes of coming back to an even better organization. Even with all that work, we found gaps when we got back, but it made us better. Also, instead of stepping right back into where we left it, we were able to step into better utilization of our skills and leadership. More of our time is now spent on things that only we could do, and we also discovered more bright spots in our team.
One of the large gaps was our complicated way of creating a proposal that made it difficult for someone with less experience to create. Rather than say, “See I knew no one could do it,” upon my return I created a spreadsheet with formulas that allowed others to contribute and see trends within each proposal. A few months later, five pre-determined, value-priced proposals were created that our team sends out based on our client’s revenue. Without going on our 8-week vacation, this gap and solution would have never been solved. I would still be stuck spending hours of time creating value-priced proposals.
Our vacation was memorable and amazing for us, but even more than that, our company matured while we were away. Our team stepped into roles they may never have tried. Gaps were identified and filled, and we were freed to do more of the things only we can do. This purposeful vacation has now become a regular annual rhythm of our company. This summer, we are about to leave for the fourth year in a row, and our company is better for it.
It takes planning, risking and empowering team members to take an 8-week purposeful vacation. Maybe, your company is ready for you to take a vacation, too.