Not having celebrated Thanksgiving with us for three years my sister, Melodie, Founder of Les Sucreries de Melodie in Paris, decided to take 4 days off and enjoy a Thanksgiving weekend in New York with her family. Being a pastry chef, my sister not only has the coolest job but also operates a luxury confectionary boutique in Paris. What ensued in her four day “vacation” was a constant management of staff, conference calls and general stress of managing a business from oversees. As I watched my sister step away from the table (and the fabulous turkey) for the fifth time as she got yet another emergency text from an employee I couldn’t help but wonder: When is it OK as a business owner to take a vacation? And, how do you ensure that it will be enjoyable?
The irony here is that Europeans are famous for their vacation time. And I, natively French, should be a vacation queen. Nevertheless, having been raised most of my life in America I too struggle with letting go and taking time off. According to About.com, Italians take an average of 42 days of vacation a year while the French enjoy 37 days and the British relish 28 days. American on average take only 13 days of vacation a year. That’s really not much. Below some tips on how to make sure those 13 days will be full of rest and not more stress.
Take a few steps back. While in Costa Rica in 2010 a wise tour guide once said to me: “People who go on vacation are those who are looking for a change in perspective”. Remember that “new” feeling you get after coming home from a long time away? It’s due to a shift in mindset. These shifts can often lead to creative business development, business solutions and inspire new business ventures.
It’s Ok To Be a Control Freak… after all this is your business. But, don’t let that waste the only precious time you have to invest in yourself. Often times entrepreneurs and business owners are not able to separate work and personal life. Take your vacation as a chance to invest time in you again. Sleep in, eat well and do whatever makes you feel fulfilled.
Setting Boundaries. You want to get a change in mindset, analyze your business objectively and invest in some quality ‘me’ time but not at the expense of your business. I get that. Vacations can be enjoyable as long as they are properly planned for. Make sure to have a meeting with your staff before you leave to cover any meetings, sales, events or important business transactions that will take place while you are away. Then, determine how often you want to communicate with your key managers while you are away and make sure they have your proper contact information.
Rising Within The Ranks. Often, a vacation can be a great way to test out the efficiency of your managers or staff. I know it’s nerve wrenching but give your staff a chance. They might just be up for the challenge which means you might be able to start focusing on other areas of your business.
Vacations are often a much deserved time off from the office that provide insight, inspiration and growth in ways you might never have imagined. If you are scared that your company might fall apart in just a week that might be a sign that you need to reevaluate your business structure or hire a new team. Take a vacation at least once a year for the sake of your health, business, clients and staff. We all know you deserve one!