So, my family and I always schedule our family vacations prior to the start of the new school year so I thought writing a post on easy ways to prepping your small business before you take your vacation is timely!

If you run your own small business like I do, you know you have a great job. You get to call your own shots. You’re in charge of your destiny. And you’re excited to take on the world. But let’s face it. Running a small business is work, really hard work.

When you’re running at full speed for days, weeks, or months on end, it’s critical to take time off to refresh and recharge the batteries. But for many small business owners, taking that much-needed vacation seems less than possible. For starters, many business owners simply feel they can’t afford the time off. And then there’s the fear that something will go wrong when they leave the office.

While you probably will never be able to shake off the worry when you’re out of the office, there are several things you can do to make your time away as smooth as possible:

1. Schedule times to check in (and then check out)

When you’re constantly on edge waiting for the next email or phone call, you’re not really on vacation. For this reason, you should schedule designated times when you’ll check in with the office (via Skype, cell phone, etc.). This will let you put your phone away for the bulk of the time without losing touch.

2. Trust your employees

When you start to get nervous about heading out of the office, just remember that you hired each employee for a reason. Think about it this way: as a great business manager, you wouldn’t hire anyone who isn’t competent or trustworthy. So it might be time to let go and trust that things won’t go haywire when you’re gone. And your vacation (no matter how short) can empower your employees to take on more responsibility, potentially freeing up some of your time when you get back to work.

3. Make sure the bills get paid

If you control the purse strings, you’ve got to have a plan in place to ensure all invoices are sent and bills are paid on time. You can prep your staff to handle bill payments and send invoices in your absence. Or, make sure you have all the appropriate log-in and account information for your online bank accounts so you can access them while you’re out of the office. Set up recurring payments for bills that are the same each month, so there’s one less thing to worry about. Just make sure the financials keep flowing while you’re gone.

4. Find help in the cloud

If some of your business’ critical documents are housed on your laptop, you’ll need to make sure they’re accessible to everyone. Use Google Docs or Dropbox, so there is one central location for everyone to keep shared documents. And if you’re a solo worker, think about hiring a virtual office or freelance assistant to take care of basic tasks.

5. List out employees’ top priorities while you’re gone

Before you leave, outline what tasks and projects you expect your employees to complete while you’re gone. This sets the agenda and helps employees understand what is expected of them. Don’t go overboard…just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean everyone else needs to work twice as hard. However, giving clear instructions on the chief priorities will avoid any confusion.

Remember…YOU deserve a vacation!

You need a vacation. Everyone does, even small business owners and entrepreneurs. Vacations are one of the world’s best stress busters; an annual vacation cuts the risk of heart attacks in men by 30% in mean and by 50% in women.

Getting away gives you a fresh perspective on your business. For example, while traveling in Mexico, Eric Stumberg hatched the idea for TengoInternet, now the largest wireless Internet provider to campgrounds and RV parks. When you least expect it, you might dream up a startup idea, a new way to deal with a troublesome client or the perfect tagline for your client’s new launch.

If you haven’t taken a vacation yet this summer, there’s still time! Prep the office and then go… even if it’s just for a few days!

Drop me a note and let me know what your vacation plans are before the start of back to school:) xo