Can a business owner really have a stress free holiday? YES YES YES

As a business owner, for the past 5 years I have been running my financial coaching, accounting, training & bookkeeping business. And whilst it continues to grow and be successful, I have never had a stress free holiday in that time. I was always constantly attached to my laptop/iPad/phone and had to be on call for clients every day because my business was me.

“I had created a monster. The business I truly loved and cherished was consuming me, it was eating me alive.”

Thankfully I was lucky enough to realise the monster I had created and I started to make small changes about 4 years ago. As a control freak this was really hard. I mean surely anyone I invited to help in my business would never do as good a job as me, I am going to spend all my time fixing things and it would just be quicker to do everything myself. Screw the 9-5, I was working 24/7 and thinking it would just all work out in the end.

Whilst I can be very stubborn (Taurean star sign through and through) I realised that I was not a machine and working myself in this state was not practical nor beneficial to my clients in the long run. Plus I wanted to see my family (and spend quality time with them) and go on holidays.

“Oh my, a real holiday not glued to any kind of tech device or rushing around to find a Starbucks with free WiFi. Wouldn’t that be bliss?”

So the small changes started. I employed someone 12 months into my business. Barely making enough money for myself in those early years, I hired part time people. I knew that for me to no longer “be” the business, I needed a team. That one part time person grew to two part time people and now we have three part time people as well as myself.

The training and investment I put into my people goes above and beyond day to day tasks. I train them in how I think, how I respond, why I do the things I do and most importantly I trust them and give them the freedom to work things out for themselves. I let them learn in real life and not to just know “how the software does it”, I want them to understand the underlying principles.

Whilst in theory it would be great to have a million little clones of myself, I still have my flaws. And I need to hire people to fill the gaps, be experts at the things I am not great at.

“Our team really compliments each other. I hire people based on my theory of I want to be “the kind of manager I never had in corporate world”. We trust each other, and we have each others back. Always.”

Whilst I was building my team, I quickly realised having written and visual procedures and processes was game changing. Instead of training each employee separately, we have training notes per client, so each staff member can work on that client if someone is away. We have recorded training videos, notes, checklists, we do live screen sharing – you name it and we have it. My theory is if someone asks a question, I haven’t got clear enough instructions behind the scenes, so we update the procedures. It is not a “set and forget” document, it is forever evolving.

And lastly – we implement software systems to streamline our lives. All of our lives. My business is no longer “me”, it is “us”, and as the business owner I need to make sure we are doing things as efficiently as possible. I need to make sure my staff have the right tools/software at their disposal. These online programs help us communicate internally, they help us communicate with clients, they let us share documents virtually, they let us lodge compliance forms with the ATO, they let us obtain electronic signatures and they seamlessly track jobs and workflow. The works. Without these systems, we are wasting time, wasting money and causing stress.

So have I worked on this holiday – yes, a little bit. And when I say a little bit I mean it. I trust my team to cover for me, just like when I cover for them when they take leave. I don’t micro manage (ain’t nobody got time for ‘dat) and I know I have hired the right people to get the job done.

As our 10 day Los Angeles and San Francisco holiday comes to an end, I can safely say that whilst away, all I did was check important emails every second day, I checked in on Slack for any urgent queries and I wrote some blog posts (which is something of a joy for me anyway!).

I also went to the outlet malls, visited Hollywood, went to Muscle Beach, went to a LA Dodgers baseball game (and I held a real life ball from the game), rode a bike over the Golden Gate bridge, went to Alcatraz, walked along the esplanade to Pier 39, rode a cable car, went on a foodie tour of the Ferry Building, went to Chinatown for bargain souvenirs, attended a conference and got all frocked up for a roaring 20’s gala dinner. I mean seriously – who has time for work!

“I truly believe that no matter how much you love your business (or your job) you are entitled to a break. You deserve a holiday. You don’t need to feel guilty for having time out. Reset your mind and experience life.”

So the key to taking a stress free (or should I say gadget free) holiday is teamwork, trust, procedures and systems. But you need to implement all 4 to get it right. Be realistic and start early. Before you get so run down and exhausted that you desperately need a holiday, you should be planning for how you can make it happen. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

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