Ask the Experts

Ask the experts: Do better business by taking vacation

vbridges@newsobserver.comJune 24, 2013 

David Washington

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Many small-business owners work themselves to the bone in the belief that this lack of rest will result in higher sales, more customers and better profits, said David Washington, managing partner of Washington & Co., a Raleigh consulting and training firm. However, Washington said, often the owners run themselves into the ground, which has a negative effect on people, prospects and profits.

“Some business owners will not take vacation because they believe their organization will fall apart the second they walk out the front door,” Washington said. “Others have a high distrust in the individuals that they have hired.”

The rationales may have some basis in fact, Washington said, but steps can be taken to ensure that small-business owners can recuperate, Washington said. Here are Washington’s edited tips on preparing for and going on vacation.

Write vacations on a calendar: When an item goes on the calendar, it gets my full and undivided attention. Vacations are treated the same way. I hold myself to that commitment and do not break it.

Take mini-vacations: Schedule several mini-vacations to help recharge. Do not come into the office for one or two days or create a three- or four-day weekend. A misconception in entrepreneurship is that you can never leave your office for a minute. However, this is unproductive and unhealthy. Breaks are necessary to help sustain the venture. Also, getting away from the office may actually help solve a problem you are working on.

Set ground rules: Before you go on vacation, set ground rules with the staff or your team about contact. Your objective is to get a break from your work, and that cannot happen if your BlackBerry or iPhone is continually buzzing. Let your staff know that you do not want to be disturbed during your vacation. However, if an emergency occurs, you can be reached later in the evening or at night. Also, clarify for the staff what constitutes an emergency. Not everything is an emergency, and the staff needs to understand that.

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