One of the biggest motivations for starting a new business is the promise of freedom.
Without a boss, you can choose your own hours, work in a way that suits you, and pursue your own objectives and goals – all fantastic, life-changing perks!
The rise of eCommerce has made this dream more achievable than ever. Anybody can set up their own online store and take control of their lives. If you want to learn more, read our 3 Great Niches to Start Your Ecommerce Store which will give you some great tips for getting started!
But there’s a catch. Many small business owners find it difficult to take time off. After putting in so much time and energy, many are scared that their business will suffer in their absence. But how true this depends on what stage your business is at.
Some owners fear taking a vacation because they’ve become so used to monitoring their business 24/7. But the systems and processes they’ve designed are often more than capable than they realise and are able to operate without them. If this is you, your biggest challenge will be learning to let go.
Others, especially one-man teams, may be more justified in avoiding holidays since their business will grind to a halt with nobody at the helm.
But eCommerce business owners – even one-man teams – have a great advantage over traditional small business owners. Most of the technology they use to run their business is portable! This means that, even if they decide to go away, they can keep track of their business no matter where they are.
For a long time, only those whose work could be sent over the internet could take their work with them – graphic designers, copywriters, computer programmers, etc. But now, technological advances have made it easy to track brick-and-mortar businesses from afar, too.
Since it’s vacation season, we thought we’d list our five top tips for taking time off as an eCommerce owner. After all, everyone deserves to enjoy a little sun!
1.Ensure You Have The Right Tech
- Wi-Fi: There’s nothing more frustrating taking some time out from the pool to assess your store doing and finding out that you don’t have Wi-Fi. Internet access is absolutely crucial to keeping an eye on your business, so make sure anywhere you’re planning on visiting has high-quality, consistent Wi-Fi.
- Smartphone/Tablet: You’re likely to be out-and-about a lot of the time when on holiday. So make sure you take your smartphone and tablet so that you can respond to events and (though hopefully not) emergencies if and when they happen.
- Online Scheduler: To ensure that you don’t forget about any important meetings or tasks, input everything you need to do into an online scheduler before you go.
- The Cloud: The more you use the cloud to manage operations (databases, content storage, transaction logs, internal documents, financials, etc.), the more you will be able to access important information whilst you’re away.
- Email Autoresponder: Setting up an automatic email response will mean that anyone who tries to contact you while you’re away will know not to expect an immediate response, meaning no one’s feelings are going to get hurt.
2.Tie Up Loose Ends
Even though you may have to do some work whilst you’re away, most of your holiday should be spent doing fun things. Else it wouldn’t be a holiday at all. To make sure that you have as most free time as possible, tie up any loose ends before you go away. This means getting all your invoices out, paying all your overheads and bills, informing relevant people, and making sure all your correspondence is up to date.
3.Schedule Your Marketing
Most e-commerce operations have a strong social media presence. And if they don’t, they should improve their social media strategy. Social media marketing is cheap, effective, and (when it comes to online stores) takes place on the same platform as that which they sell from. It also lends itself very well to scheduling. There is a variety of great tools (free and paid) that to plan posts and updates. Use one! Doing so means that, even when you’re away, your marketing efforts won’t take a hit.
This is one many small business owners struggle with. But learning to delegate can lead to huge rewards (even Richard Branson says so!). All entrepreneurs need to be able to delegate, and never is that more apparent than when on holiday.
If you have a small team, there will be plenty of tasks that one of them will be capable of doing just as well (or even better) than you. By failing to acknowledge this, you’re making your own life harder. What’s the point of spending an afternoon hunched up in your hotel room when someone else could be doing that work for you? Indeed, that’s what you pay them for.
It’s critical that you nominate someone to be in charge. At a minimum, this person needs to act as your business’s main point of contact whilst you’re away. But, the more responsibility you give them, the more you’ll be able to enjoy yourself.
And even one-man teams can benefit from the delegation, too. Virtual assistants can be hired for short periods of time, meaning you should be able to keep your workload down while on holiday. Or just getting a friend or family member to take care of fulfilment will help you relax and keep your business ticking over (just be sure to have them read our top tips for fulfilment before they start!).
Have fun. Relax. Enjoy yourself. The more refreshed you feel coming back to work the better. Your holiday was meant to be an escape from it all. Make sure it is. Your business will thank you in the long run.
Are you going on holiday? If so, what you’re doing to make sure your business stays operational while you’re away? Let us know with a comment.