Whether it’s for personal or business purposes, it can be difficult for business owners to go out of town and leave their business behind. And if you’re a small business owner working from home, the thought may seem utterly impossible. How can you successfully keep your business running while you’re out of town? Here are a few pointers:
If you’re planning a vacation or attending training, choose dates based on when your business is slower. For example, if you own a landscape business, you’re likely to be busier in the spring and summer. Therefore, plan your trips during the fall and winter so your absence will have less of an impact on your business.
Work ahead as much as possible. Order materials and supplies to be used during your absence, plus enough for a few days beyond your return. That way, when you’re back in the office, you can catch up on billable work rather than spend time ordering paper for your printer.
Also, either make arrangements for someone to pick up your mail and deliveries or put them on hold. In addition, before you leave, pay any bills that are due during your absence.
If possible, train people you trust to fill in for you when you’re out of town. They don’t need to know all aspects of your business, such as purchasing or billing, but they should be able to run your business smoothly so the majority of your customers don’t even realize you’re gone.
If you can’t train someone to fill in for you, consider outsourcing your work to a reliable colleague. You may end up losing money while you’re gone, but you’ve stayed in business and kept your customers happy. And perhaps your colleague will return the favor the next time he or she goes out of town.
Inform your regular clients that you’ll be out of town. You don’t need to tell them the reason, unless it’s beneficial for your business, such as attending training or a trade show. Assure your clients that their needs will be met while you’re gone, and follow up with them after your return to see if they need any additional assistance.
Even though you’re out of town, you’re not completely free. You’re still a business owner with professional responsibilities. You need to be reachable in case any emergencies arise. Check your email and voicemail once a day to ensure everything is running smoothly.
A Little Is Okay
When there are tasks that no one but you can do, it’s okay to take an hour or two each day to attend to your business. Take your smartphone, laptop, or tablet with you. Before you leave, check to see if you will have an internet connection available. If not, take a wireless card with you. Back up your device daily in case it gets lost or stolen.
Once you’ve left town, focus on the purpose of the trip. If you’re on vacation, allow yourself to relax. If you’re attending a training seminar, allow yourself to learn. If you’re dealing with a family situation, be available to your family. But if you’re frequently on your phone or checking email, perhaps you should have stayed home.
Amy Kirkegaard is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of current topics for businesses such as Reputation.com.