No Holiday

08th August 2018

I couldn’t help myself.

A few weeks ago, I went on holiday to Yorkshire. One of our clients is based in the area, so while I was there, I popped in to see them (a couple of times!!).

The client is the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, where I am also Finance Director – and if you’ve been reading my emails for any length of time, you’ll know that I’m a total railway fanatic.

So for me, this visit was as much about pleasure as it was about business. It was absolutely inevitable that I’d visit them.

(And by the way, you might even get to see footage of the visit, because Channel 5 are busy shooting the second season of a reality series about the railway!)
 
But when I got back to the office, one of our directors, Shirley, couldn’t help but tease me. I just can’t take a real holiday…….
 
While in my case, that was entirely by choice, that isn’t true for so many other business owners.
 
All too often, business owners feel that they can’t leave their companies for any length of time, and they go for years at a time without a proper break.
 
If they do go away, it’s just for a long weekend or a week – never more.
 
And they can’t truly detach themselves. They get up early in the morning to stay on top of their emails and catch up with some work late at night. Maybe they even take a day off in the middle of their holiday to deal with urgent business.
 
The problem is that they feel that they can’t afford to leave their company for any length of time.

If they’re not there, the company will grind to a halt. Decisions won’t be made, client work won’t get done, and things will generally fall apart.
 
If that’s the way you feel --- and especially if it’s true! --- then that’s a massive warning sign that your business is not set up right.

A mature business can run without its owner being there for a week or two, and even months.

It has all the systems in place, and the right people, to function without your personal presence.
 
We’ve spoken a lot over the past few months about the financial systems you need to put in place to make sure your finances are managed smoothly.
 
But in reality, that’s just one set of systems you need in place.
 
Your marketing should be set up to run like clockwork. The client work should continue, whether or not you’re there. Admin should be done regardless. And so on.

If your business depends on you being there, it is not robust enough. It can fall apart if anything happens to you… If you’re overburdened…. Or if you simply want to take a holiday.
 
You can’t imagine Tesco or BP falling apart if the boss went on holiday for a couple of weeks, could you? That’s because they’re built so that they are not dependent on any one individual.

So if you’ve avoided taking a holiday this summer….

Or taken less than you’d really like…..

Or called the office every morning during the holiday just to ensure your business is still functioning…..

Resolve to spend the next few months instituting better processes and systems, so that your business can continue running smoothly, whether or not you’re there.

I still remember the moment when I first left Insight for a full two weeks, secure in the knowledge that it would still be there – and healthy -- when I got back.

That was true freedom. And you, like every business owner, should expect the same. 

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