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Ensuring Small Business Success While the Owner is on Vacation

business vacation

Intelligent business owners understand the value of taking time off, of getting away from the business. At the same time, they are concerned that their business success will falter if they aren’t there; who will answer customer questions? What if business operations have a hiccup?

It’s tough to keep your pulse on your business’s health if you are a thousand miles away but with five simple steps you can ensure your business will continue to thrive.

  1. Plan your time away at least six months in advance. This gives you enough time to prepare and get used to the idea of being away from your business. Consider testing your plan by taking a couple of days off sooner!
  2. Communicate. Let staff and key business partners know as soon as possible about your plan. If you are nervous about being away, let your team know that and how you are relying on them to help.
  3. Delegate and train. Perhaps there really is no one who can do what you do as well as you, but if you’ve hired well, they do their job better than you and can fill in for you. Define who will take on additional tasks during your time away and train them so you are both comfortable.
  4. Create back-up plans. Define mission critical business operations and create a back-up plan that staff can follow in case of an operations failure. If you have ever hired a babysitter, this is like the list you leave for the sitter! Consider in-house procedures as well as outside resources. As a last resort, define when it is okay to contact you.
  5. Get over yourself. Sure, it’s your business, your livelihood, and you probably are the pulse of the organization. But…the business will survive without you if you’ve led your business and not just managed it. It might be an ego buster to come back from being away and have no emergencies waiting for you; trust me, you can get over that quickly by scrolling through your vacation pictures and by planning your next vacation immediately.

If you absolutely, without a doubt, have to stay connected, define how often and for what you will connect. Consider having an employee send two to three key business indications daily (see checklist for examples).

Taking time off is invaluable to you and your business. You may be nervous about it, but by following these five simple steps you will have the confidence and a plan to recharge your batteries and return with more energy.

Below is a sample checklist to give you ideas.  To receive your own checklist to get started planning your next vacation, sign up for our newsletter!

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Recognizing your Business Fears

Fear keeps us from new adventures, new horizons, new highs, and new lows. Yes, overcoming a fear is a scary thought. However, overcoming a fear is such a powerful emotion that it is able to overshadow failed attempts. I know I’ve had my share of failures but I honestly can’t remember them. Overcoming fear gives you a thrill and remembering that feeling can benefit your business.

Just like a strong vision can pull you forward, connecting with how you will feel after overcoming a fear can also pull you forward. When we are fighting with a fear, we dig in our heels. It becomes tough for anything to push us forward and we become stuck. However, when we connect with a positive outcome we are propelled forward. By focusing on the end result and taking small steps forward we are able to slowly overcome our fear.

If you have a fear getting in the way of your business’s success, here are four simple yet effective techniques to move you beyond your fear easily:Fear

  1. Clearly define the outcome that you want. Be singularly focused on that outcome. The fear may still exist, but it will be much quieter.
  2. Build a support team around you and be sure to include some risk-takers. Get rid of any nay-sayers.
  3. Write a step-by-step guide for someone else to follow to reach your goal. Follow it yourself as an experiment.
  4. Name it – “this is a (irrational) fear.” That’s it; end of story. Decide to move past it.

Define the outcome that will pull you forward, as if you were catapulted over the obstacles, and the fears will become small speed bumps along the way. Be persistent, there is no fear than can’t be overcome!

Oreo’s Slam Dunk; Grab Customers Attention with Savvy Marketing

oreoWhen the Superdome’s lights went out during the Superbowl, audiences had 34 minutes with nothing particular to pay attention to. Oreo’s social media team jumped on the opportunity and sent this tweet: “Power out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark.” Approximately 24 hours later, they’ve had over 15,000 retweets and almost 21,000 Facebook likes. That’s savvy marketing.

Chances are, there are moments when your customers have empty space in front of them, a “dark moment”; a checkout counter in a retail environment, a few minutes of waiting for a service business. These are prime spots to grab your customer’s attention, but too often they get cluttered with manufacturer’s marketing material rather than your own, reminders about your policies, or local charity events. Instead, consider what you most want your customers and clients to know about, to focus on, and that’s what they should be looking at in their “Oreo moment”. Just like in print copy, remember to use plenty of “empty” space to allow your customers to focus.

Helen Dutton, A Vision of Your Own, has provided business and personal coaching for small business owners since 2000, providing online and face to face coaching for entrepreneurs, small business owners, start-up businesses as well as established businesses across the country. Clients come from New Hampshire, her home state, but she has also acted as a mentor to business owners in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Denver area, and closer to home in the Boston area. Helen helps her clients develop their small business ideas, create marketing plans, improve operation efficiency, build customer service systems, build management and leadership skills, and develop confidence as a business owner. Helen provides business tips and resources through her blog and her newsletter, where you can also find business templates to help your business prosper.