About two years ago, I made a decision that I’m still congratulating myself for today.
I decided to finally plan my honeymoon. My husband and I had only been married for, um, 4 years and somehow, we still hadn’t gone on our honeymoon.
Given that nobody regrets not having worked more on their deathbed, a different set of priorities was in order.
So, we planned a vacation in South East Asia.
Thankfully, we had aimed to travel at the end of 2019 BC (before Coronavirus). In retrospect, I am so grateful that I got to spend time in 6 different countries just before the world locked down.
And I’m happy to report that I took four weeks off without a dip in my income.
What this taught me is that you don’t need to have employees or a lot of passive income to take a nice, long vacation. With some planning, solopreneurs and creators can do this, too.
Which is great because the truth is that we really need it. For instance, according to Professor Suzanne Degges-White, going on vacation helps with
- cardiovascular health,
- reaction times,
- job satisfaction & loyalty (which, after all, also applies when you’re your own boss), and
If this motivates you to take more vacations, the following steps will help.
Here’s how to take time off without losing your income:
1. Create a business model that works for you
This is the most important step.
The bad news is that you can’t just pull off a good business model at the top of your head when you want to go on a vacation. It takes time and effort.
The good news is that once you have created this model, it will support you at all times, not just when you want to take a vacation.
A supportive business model will help you when you want to have a schedule that works for you. It will help you when you’re feeling under the weather and need to take it slow for a bit. It will help you when there’s a family emergency that you need to attend to.
While creating a good business model goes beyond the scope of this article, here are a few pointers to get you started:
- If your primary income comes from selling products, it can be relatively easy to take a vacation. For instance, you could take a break right after a launch (you and your audience will probably need one, anyway). Or if you use evergreen launches, you “just” need to make sure you continue to get traffic to your website while you’re away.
- If your primary income comes from services such as coaching and consulting, you can easily take a vacation if you sell longer-term packages instead of charging by the hour. For instance, I generally talk to my clients 2–3 times per month. But even with 4 monthly sessions, you can take 4 weeks off each year (because the year has 52 weeks).
- If your primary income comes from creating content, it can be harder to take a break. Depending on the algorithm on the platform(s) you use, your reach might suffer. So, choose your platform wisely! While you can easily take off time as a Podcaster (simply choose a seasonal format with breaks between seasons), the same isn’t true for YouTube.
As you can see, your business model has a huge impact on your ability to have a good work-life balance. Whenever you decide how to structure things and tasks in your business, try to keep this in mind.
We’re taught to think that we need to have passive income to be able to go on vacation. As you have hopefully seen, this is not true!
What is often called passive income isn’t truly passive anyway: even after you have set up the perfect sales funnel, someone needs to answer emails from (potential) customers. If you don’t do it, then you have to pay someone to do it which increases your business costs.
More importantly, other business models can also offer you a lot of flexibility.
Alright, let’s assume this step is taken care of. Here are the other things you need to do:
2. Plan your vacations wisely
Over time, many entrepreneurs notice that there’s an ebb and flow to their business. In some cases, this might follow collective rhythms.
For instance, if you sell lovely handmade gifts, you might experience a business boost just before the holiday season. In contrast, as a coach, December might be a slow season but January brings a flood of new clients who want to start the new year off strong.
That’s certainly the case for me. Since most of my coaching clients come from the US and Europe, American Thanksgiving to the start of January tends to be a slow season. It’s therefore the best time for me to take a break.
Ideally, you want to identify slow times for your business and plan your vacation then. If you haven’t done this for long enough to be able to see a trend, just make your best guess based on your niche.
Once you have decided on a time for a vacation, do your best to stick with it. It’s easy (and tempting) to change it but to paraphrase a saying about having babies, the time is never right to take a vacation. After all, you could always do more, try harder, or wait a bit longer.
Don’t! Put the vacation in your calendar and unless you get a (hopefully legal) offer you can’t refuse, stick with your plan.
3. Plan your meetings/calls
Once you have decided when you want to take a vacation, make sure you don’t schedule meetings during this time. After all, nothing saps the holiday spirit quite like having internet connection issues when you’re trying to connect to a call.
Save that experience for your home office!
- As soon as possible: Block out your vacation in your scheduling software/calendar so that you won’t schedule meetings during this time.
- 2 months out (or as soon as possible): If you’re away for longer than a week, inform your regular clients that you will be on vacation and unavailable for meetings. If you don’t want to tell everyone individually, send out an email or add your vacation times to your email signature.
- As soon as possible: If you already have calls scheduled, try to move them to another time.
4. Plan your content creation/Social Media marketing/email marketing
If you regularly create content, this is something you also have to consider.
For instance, when I took my 4-week break, I created all the content for my Podcast/videos/emails in advance (that’s the content I focused on at the time).
In general, you need to decide if you want to do the minimum that’s feasible or stick with your regular content output during your vacation.
I’m currently planning a 10-day vacation. Creating my content will be pretty easy this time since I’m down to one article a week and post very little on Social Media.
I’d most likely reach more people if I created more, but honestly, for me it’s currently just not worth the impact on my life quality.
- As soon as possible: Decide how much you will publish during your vacation.
- 2 months out (or as soon as possible): If you’re away for longer than a week, create the content in advance.
- 2 weeks out (or as soon as possible); Preschedule everything you can preschedule (emails, Social Media posts on most networks, YouTube videos, etc.).
- 1 week out: Set a reminder in your calendar for the content that you need to publish manually.
5. Plan your emails.
Ah, emails. The bane of our existence!
With my upcoming 10-day vacation, I’m on the fence about whether I’ll check my emails during that time.
If you take a longer break, you will probably want to check your emails from time to time (in addition to setting an out-of-office reminder). However, to really get into the vacation spirit, I recommend that you don’t check your emails too often… perhaps twice a week should be enough.
- At least 1–2 weeks out (or longer if you’re away for a long time): Inform your regular clients that you will be out of the office.
- Set an out-of-office reminder, telling people when you will be back.
- Decide how often you will check your emails (not too often).
- When you check your emails, scan the headlines and ignore everything that’s not sent to you personally.
- Only respond to important emails.
There you go, 5 steps to the perfect vacation. Now you just need to figure out all the logistics of your holiday (for instance, travel restrictions, entry requirements, etc., etc. etc., if you decide to travel).
Thankfully, that’s not my job.
My work here is done. Time for my vacation!
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