Take the Trip

Would you rather listen to this article? https://soundcloud.com/user-524333818/take-the-trip-blog-audio-version 
No matter the job, there is something deep in my core that screams summertime is the time to play! Maybe it's because we live in Chicago and just over 30% of our year is 60° or warmer, so when it finally is warm outside, all I  want to do is bask in the sunshine. Unfortunately, even though I feel as if I am still a school-aged child, I am in fact a thriving adult; and such, I have clients to consult and a business to grow.  I segway into our topic this month which is, How can you take a trip as a business owner? How do you prepare your team for your absence should you decide to take a much-needed vacation? How do you set boundaries with your company to respect your out-of-office email reply?

Did you know that time off is actually GOOD for your health? Not just your mental health but other physical health conditions as well? When you’re a small business owner, you wear many hats. Whether you are a solopreneur or a business with a team, preparing to leave town for your trip or vacation can seem overwhelming. 

It is truly essential to your mental and physical health to take the trip!  So how can you successfully plan to be Out of Office? What are some tips or tricks that I have learned that you can implement so you can enjoy your time away from your desk? 

According to a survey from Bankrate, only about one in three Americans who get paid vacation days plan to use all of their allotted time off in 2022. That’s down considerably from 40 percent from the March 2019 Bankrate survey. And over 35 % plan to use fewer than half of their vacation days.  Does this statistic ring true for you?

If you answered yes, what is stopping you from Taking the Trip?

The big takeaway that I'll leave you with is PLANNING! Benjamin Franklin said it best, "By failing to plan, you are preparing to fail."  While I couldn't agree more with that quote, it is not always as easy as saying it! As an Aquarius, I tend to not be the best planner BUT I have found that when I do plan, I ALWAYS succeed. 

Case in point, I recently went on a summer vacation with my family.  I don't have a "backup" coordinator. It's just me managing A2 Sales and Marketing. I manage a lot of content for my clients, that tends to be the priority of what I do for A2 Sales & Marketing. Content, if you're unfamiliar, is anything that is included in communication. For example, I create and write weekly email blasts that are used to engage with clients and share information with customers and prospects about a product or service.

However, before the physical work goes into the creation of the email, there is planning involved with developing the focus of the message that is needed for weekly email blasts. I also maintain about 15 various social media accounts for my clients and I post five to six days a week for two accounts and about once to twice a week for a few smaller businesses.  There are a ton of prep hours while planning the cadence for different content buckets to use on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Content buckets are different areas of focus for social media messages.  For example, on Mondays for my clients, I'll capture an image that is representative of the brand and add a quote that is meant to motivate or inspire the customer.  While this may not drive an immediate sale, we're hoping that the post would pick up some decent engagement and shares across other accounts to start to build better brand awareness.  Tuesday could be "tip or hack" day. Wednesdays is an image or video of a customer or employee. 

My favorite social media and project management tools, ones that I can't work without:

CANVA I am not a graphic designer. I took a class once to learn some design programs, they were so hard! I didn't even finish the course. Canva allows me to make eye-catching emails, social media posts, flyers, videos, slideshow presentations, and more! I highly encourage you to check out this program.

PicMonkey allows a bit more light editing of photos and quick resize of images.

Some type of social media scheduler.  I'm currently using Buffer, but exploring Social Bee and Later, as they both offer a few other tools for publishing. Additionally, Meta also provides FB and IG users a free scheduling tool on business pages.

Email Outreach, I use both Constant Contact and MailChimp. However, many CRMs (client relationship management programs) offer email blast templates and the ability to segment and email your distribution. A popular CRM for builders is my favorite, Lasso. 

My MacBook Pro and My iPhone! They talk to each other and make sending texts, links, posting, editing videos, etc. a breeze. 

The project management tool, that I use is Monday.com. It helps to keep me organized. Like a digital notepad of sorts. 

Yes, when owning a business, taking a needed vacation can often be a challenge, we all deserve to take a little OOO time.  There are definitely ways to have a pleasant vacation while your business stays running in the background.

Some of these tools from a marketing standpoint are super helpful in staying connected. Plus, if you decide to leave your computer at home for your trip...all these tools have easy websites or apps to manage your tasks, in the event of an emergency.

How is your planning going for the next time you'll be OOO?

Want to take a deeper dive into this conversation? Check out Midlife at the Mailbox, Episode 5, "Take the Trip".