It’s no secret that most business owners and entrepreneurs have trouble taking time, or even weekends off. So, taking a sabbatical of 6 months or more may seem like an impossible feat to a business owner. But with the rise of virtual employees and business automation, it is more possible now than it has ever been to take a sabbatical, no matter how busy your schedule is.
Below are some tips to follow if you’re wanting to know how to take a sabbatical and still have a business to come back to.
Determine how long you will be away
The first thing to consider if you are thinking about taking a sabbatical is how long your break will be. Whether you plan on travelling, learning something new, or just taking some time off to reset and refresh, your decision to take a sabbatical should be an informed one.
The things that determine the length of your sabbatical would be: how long can your employees go without you? How long can your clients go without hearing from you or meeting with you? What would be the absolute longest period that you can afford to be out of the office?
If you are the brains behind your operation, you can’t unplug for 12 months to travel the globe. To begin the process, you need to determine a realistic sabbatical length that would allow you to get the rest you need while avoiding taking too much time away from your business.
Now that you have decided on the length of your sabbatical, it’s time to start thinking about how to ensure that things get done and stay on track while you are away.
Planning is an essential part of taking a sabbatical. After all, if things at work are taken care of, you can completely switch off from your work responsibilities and make the most of your time away.
Create a comprehensive list with an associated timeline for each of your responsibilities and who would be responsible for taking that over during your sabbatical.
Have regular meetings leading up to the date that you will be leaving, with relevant team members about how they need to prepare and what needs to be paused or redirected.
Be sure to discuss possible ‘what–ifs’ that may occur while you’re away and how you would like these situations to be handled in your absence.
While planning for your sabbatical, try to pick a time that doesn’t include any major events such as product launches or critical meetings.
Take it from Tim Ferriss
Tim Ferriss is an American entrepreneur and author of the best-selling book “The 4-hour workweek”. In the book, he talks about how his own sabbatical to Europe led to a drastic lifestyle change centred around finding ways to become what he calls “time rich”. One of the pro tips to come out of his New York Times best-seller is the CEO life-hack of outsourcing small, daily tasks to a virtual assistant. By doing so he was able to shorten his to-do list, break away from his workaholic lifestyle and still run a successful business.
A virtual assistant can make your life easier by:
- Handling all administrative tasks
- Calendar management
- Email correspondence
- And the handling of all finances, just to name a few.
Hiring a virtual assistant or employee can save you money (55% to be exact) as you only pay for their time and are not liable for their benefits, tax and leave pay. Hiring a virtual assistant through a reputable company like AVirtual means that you are hiring a well–vetted, highly trained professional who is used to working independently and without constant direction from you.
Virtual employees aren’t only for busy top executives who need a personal assistant. Many of our virtual assistants possess industry-specific knowledge and experience and can tackle just about any business-related task from bookkeeping to sales consulting while you are away.
Automate what you can
You may not know it yet, but a lot of the work you do on a day-to-day basis can be automated. This means using specific software or an online tool to do your work for you, automatically. Automation means things will run smoothly while you’re gone.
For example, many CRM tools can populate and send reports to clients without you having to do a thing. If you have emails that need to be sent at a certain time, consider a tool like Boomerang which allows you to schedule emails to be sent in the future.
If you’re running a leads campaign on Facebook to bring in leads or sales, you can set it on autopilot so that you can still get results while you’re not actively working.
Be sure to put a thorough mail autoresponder in place so that people know that you’re not available and know who to contact in your absence.
Business automation is not just useful when you’re going on sabbatical, it can take a lot off your plate even when you’re actively working, giving you time to focus on other important business functions.
If there is work that you can do ahead of time, especially client work, start it as soon as possible so that you can still maintain a relationship with your clients when you return from your sabbatical.
If there are certain clients that you would have to stop servicing while you are away, it is best to inform them as early as possible and see if they would consider using your services when you get back.
No matter how busy your life is, there are practical steps you can take to carve out time to hit the refresh button. In an article for the Harvard Business Review, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz wrote: “On the playing field or in the boardroom, high performance depends as much on how people renew and recover energy as on how they expend it.”