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There are dozens of reasons why I love being self-employed. I make my own hours, pursue my own goals, and focus on things that are important to me. But if there’s one thing I genuinely dislike about owning my own business it’s this:
I hate asking the boss for time off.
Seriously… asking myself for a week off is nearly impossible. It’s a common misconception that self-employed entrepreneurs can simply lock their office door and turn off their phone to escape a hectic workday, but it’s just not true. Three day work weeks and afternoon Mai Tais may seem all the more attainable when you’re working for yourself, but the reality is, in order to be successful, you’re going to need to work twice as hard.
Get Your Priorities Straight
It’s completely natural and absolutely necessary for entrepreneurs to be driven to succeed. Unfortunately, this drive can lead to logging plenty of unscheduled overtime. Take my situation for example. Not only have I recently launched my own consulting business , but I’m also waist-deep in wedding preparations. With a wedding comes a honeymoon, and I’m about 110% sure that my soon-to-be-husband will file for an annulment if he finds my laptop tucked in my carry-on bag. Skipping the honeymoon isn’t an option (don’t even ask, that is one conversation you do not want to have) so I have no choice but to confront the boss and hope for the best. Here goes nothing…
Steps to Take When Scheduling Time Off
Taking time off when you’re self-employed takes some planning. You can’t just hand in a vacation request and be done with it. Before you can close shop, you’ll need to notify any appropriate contacts, and ensure that potential clients are made aware of your absence. Here are a few general tips to remember:
1. Begin notifying clients one month in advance.
This may seem a bit drastic, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Try to notify every client individually at first. Once you’ve done this, include a footer in subsequent e-mails that states when your office will be closed. If you’re clients missed the first message, they’ll certainly notice the footer in subsequent communications.
2. Wrap up projects early.
If you’ve signed a contract that coincides with your vacation you’ve got one of two options. Your best choice is to finish the contract early, which will mean clocking even more hours… such is life. If there’s no way that you’ll be able to complete the scheduled tasks in time, contact your client as soon as possible in order to renegotiate the due date. The more notice you provide the client, the more likely he or she will be open to negotiations.
3. Cut back!
This doesn’t mean you have to say no to a potential client. When pitching to a new business contact, simply make it clear that you have a prior commitment and will be unable to start the project until after a specific date. Your client will appreciate your honesty and you’ll avoid a significant jump in your stress level.
4. Post an “out of office” message in all the right places.
This includes an auto-response in your e-mail, a message on your voicemail, a post on your blog, a farewell Tweet, and a message to Facebook followers. In each post, encourage visitors to contact you while you’re gone, noting your preferred mode of communication. State when you’ll be back and when they can expect you to send a follow-up.
Do you have more tips for scheduling time off from your business? Feel free to share them – I can use all the help I can get!
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