Every business owner deserves some time off—a chance to experience a guilt-free vacation or leave of absence. If this is so important, why is it that so many business owners feel guilty taking time away from the office?
The struggle is real. Even when we do our best to plan ahead, we still end up fielding questions, calls, texts, emails, and following up on leads during our time off. Instead of enjoying our time at the beach or with loved ones, we face the looming fear that we will let down a client, lose a lead, or miss an important project detail.
What if there was a better way? I’m here to tell you that guilt-free time off isn’t a myth…it’s completely possible! Whether you want to take time off for vacation, the holidays, a sabbatical, maternity leave (like I just did!), or some other reason, there’s a way to enjoy your time off without the constant pressure of the office. Ready for the vacation you deserve? With a little strategy and these tried and true steps, you’re on your way to guilt-free time away.
My Guilt-Free Maternity Leave Strategy
Before we dive into the steps I KNOW work to help business owners get some much-needed time off, I want to share a bit of my journey. As many of you know, I recently took several months away for maternity leave. I got to enjoy the new presence of my sweet daughter without the stress of keeping up with work. Did I get it all perfect? No, but I learned a lot along the way—what works, what doesn’t, and what steps will benefit every business owner looking for guilt-free time off.
Because my maternity leave was going to be longer than the average vacation or time away, I went the extra step when we made the decision to expand our family to develop a course that could be a source of passive income that I could pre-sell before and during my leave. This was something that was already on my radar for my business growth, but the added impetus of maternity leave helped me create a timeline for release that strategically supported my (at that point potential) time away.
Apart from building a course and an evergreen source of passive income, I also learned a lot through the planning and implementation of my time away. Here are a few things I learned through the process of planning for a long-term leave:
- Schedule work up until your leave and pre-schedule work for after your return. This way you can feel confident you are returning to eager customers and plenty of work!
- Don’t assume people don’t want to work with you just because you’re on leave. I sold 3 VIP Packages just before maternity leave to clients who were more than happy to wait until I was back in the office to work together. And I couldn’t wait to get started when I returned!
- It’s okay to add to the plan. Even though I scheduled and automated many of my social posts and emails way ahead of time, I found that there were moments I felt inspired to jump online and add some real-time posts and personal outreach as well.
Through it all, there were also some key steps I took to get a strategy in place so that I could enjoy maternity leave without guilt or pressure. These are steps that are great for any business owner or entrepreneur, whether you are taking off two days or two months.
Pre-Schedule Your Posts
While it will take some up-front work to get your content created, having your blogs and social media posts pre-scheduled is one of the first steps to guilt-free time off. I had many comments from friends to stop working right after I had my daughter because my posts were going out! Nope, it wasn’t me but it did give the illusion that I was still present online, right? By creating and scheduling your posts in advance, you can keep potential clients engaged with your brand and existing clients still learning and receiving inspiration. Pre-scheduling content marketing also ensures that leads continue flowing into your business and it continues to generate interest while you are taking some much deserved time away.
This was a significant step for my time away for maternity leave. By planning ahead, I was able to develop a business course that would bring in passive income, line up jobs for immediately after my return (relieving some of the pressure from any lost months of income), arrange for my team to take on more responsibility to cover the tasks I normally take care of, and structure my content schedule so that there weren’t any lapses in communication with my new and current customers.
Another important part of planning ahead, however, was communicating with my clients about my plan and my time away. When you bring your clients into your process and allow them to be privy to the parts of your journey that impact them, that creates value and trust between clients and your business.
One strategy is to offer your clients spots to meet with you immediately after you return, letting them know that your continued business with them is important to you. Sending emails about your time away in advance, and even nurturing automated emails while you are away, are great ways to clearly communicate with your clients.
Set Up a System to Follow Up On Leads
One thing many of us struggle with when taking time off is the potential of missing leads. In order to remove that fear and guilt, there are plenty of tools available to help you never miss a single lead. Adding a plugin to your website that allows clients to auto-schedule appointments with you is a great way to ensure leads are being nurtured through your process. Set up follow-up emails that they automatically receive to let them know how excited you are to work with them upon your return.
For those with assistants, build a plan and communication structure so that your assistant can easily follow up with leads. They can let people know that you are out until a specific date, and what the options are for setting up a time to connect with you when you return. Your team can be a huge asset to helping fill the gap while you’re gone.
Be Prepared with Strong Communication and Boundaries
This is a significant step whether you are taking a vacation or an extended time away. Fortify yourself ahead of time to have strong communication and boundaries. Much of the guilt and pressure we experience when we take time off stems from our inability to set boundaries. If you don’t want to be on your phone all day fielding texts, make a plan in advance to communicate that boundary.
The best way to do this is to be transparent with your clients and your team about your time off and your level of availability. Explain how and when a lead will hear back from you or your team. Be clear about what communication channels (emails, texts, phone calls, online forms) will be answered and which ones will not be monitored until you return.
I made the mistake of not following this step when I left for maternity leave. I was still getting texts from clients the week I came home from the hospital with my daughter. That was hard to manage! So, learn from my mistakes and set clear boundaries upfront. Then you won’t feel guilty when you don’t answer those texts or phone calls that come through when you’re out.
Train Your Team and Trust Them!
In some cases, you may need a team in place to help manage leads and keep business going while you’re away. If you don’t already have a team, consider hiring a full-time or part-time assistant. Virtual assistants can be a great asset for managing communication and keeping clients and leads cared for. For example, my assistant sent out my birth announcement so my list would know my daughter had arrived! She also fielded and triaged requests to my team for me while I was out.
If you do have a team in place, consider delegating the important, everyday aspects of your business to your team members and then trust them to get the job done right! If you train your team on how you would handle project requests, new leads, follow-ups, and client care, you can trust that they will be more than delighted to keep things moving while you get some guilt-free time off. And, your clients will remain happy because they won’t feel a difference in the level of service they’re getting.
You may still need to field a few unforeseen questions from your team, but when it’s behind the scenes, the pressure is reduced and you can navigate your responses in your own time.
Learn More Guilt-Free Time Off Strategies
You deserve more than just a single guilt-free vacation! Building a business that allows you to thrive personally and grow financially is a huge step toward creating a day-to-day life you love. If you want the scoop on all of my behind-the-scenes tips on successfully growing your business, and taking more guilt-free time off while keeping your business running, check out my latest masterclass!