Ask almost any small business owner about their plans for the holiday season, and there’s about a fifty percent chance they will laugh in your face. December is a notoriously stressful time for business owners, as the combination of wrapping up the end of year finances and projects, creating projections for the year ahead, and showing appropriate gratitude for customers and employees adds up to a heap of extra anxiety.
But business owners, we have news for you. No matter how busy or how overwhelmed you are, we’re convinced that you—yes, even you—can find time to take a break this holiday season. We believe not only that you can, but that you absolutely should. For the sake of your sanity and the best interest of your business in the new year, follow these steps to make your much needed rest a reality.
1. Plan for a pause.
Before the weight of your to-do list has a chance to talk you out of it, go ahead and plan to take a break this holiday season. Decide how many days you’re going to take off—and when. Put them on your calendar. Adjust your deadlines accordingly. Whatever it takes, once you’ve put the plan in motion for that break, don’t compromise.
2. Set expectations—and stick to them!
To make your holiday break a reality, you’ll need to set expectations and make logistical plans with anyone who may be affected by your time off. As early as you can, let your customers and employees know when you’ll be out of the office, as well as how to reach you in an emergency.
You may even be pleasantly surprised at the feedback you receive from setting these expectations. Most of your customers will be celebrating with their families, too, so they likely won’t mind one bit.
3. Accept that some things will be left undone.
No matter how hard you try to plan ahead, taking the time to relax over the holidays will likely mean letting a few things go—or at least letting them wait until January. But remember how we mentioned that everyone else is taking a break, too? That means you’d likely be waiting to close that next deal or meet with that client anyway, even if you were working straight through the holidays.
Start by making a list of all the impending to dos, then break them into three categories: must do, should do, can probably wait. Must dos include things like running payroll, sending invoices, and fulfilling client deliverables or customer orders. Alphabetizing your filing cabinet? That one can probably wait.
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4. Step away from the computer.
At some point, you just have to rip off the Band-Aid, step away from the computer, and reenter the real, non-small business owner world. As it turns out, it’s pretty nice out there! There are good things to eat! And pretty lights! And music!
As overwhelming as the prospect may be, we promise that the moment you step away for your holiday break will be the hardest part. Grab some eggnog and, next thing you know, you’ll have forgotten all about those lingering business owner woes!
5. Count your blessings.
Even with all the responsibility and potential for stress, being a business owner is a tremendous privilege. As you step away from the stress, take some time this holiday season to think about the best parts of owning your own business.
What achievements are you most proud of this year? How has business ownership given you more autonomy and made your lifestyle better? Focusing on the positive will put your mind at ease and help you to remember why you started your own business in the first place.
6. Remember what really matters.
It’s inevitable that when you own your own business, the work never really ends. When your personal and business lives are so entangled, it can be virtually impossible to step outside the world of your business and remember what truly matters in life.
Use this holiday break as an opportunity to ground yourself in the real world. Think about your loved ones, your health, your favorite traditions. Then, as you gear yourself up to go back to work, hold onto the reminder that business is just business—even when you’re the boss.
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