How Many Vacation Days Test

growing your business Jul 25, 2023

As a business owner, you often don't get time to stop and take stock of your business. You get all wrapped up in the day to day problems and don't spend hardly any time (maybe none) asking yourself how it's going and if you're on track. That kind of stare into space time just seems like a luxury and not one we can often afford. 

The problem is, when we don't stop to ask and think and plan, then chances are you are not going to get to the point where you can. 

The good news is, to take a quick stock of your business and immediately be able to know if you are on track or not and how well you're doing overall, I have a test you can do. It takes about 10 seconds - maybe less. 

It consists of one question and while very simple, it also tells you a ton about your business and where you are at. It hopefully also gets you thinking about where you are and what it might take to get where you want to be. 

And it turns out, just thinking about this is going to do a whole lot towards helping you see what it will take to get where you want to be. Once you've done that, you're already on track to get there! 

The Test...

One of the easiest and quickest ways to determine how you are doing as a business owner is to ask yourself this simple question: how many days could I be gone from my business (meaning no communication, not just not being there in person) without it impacting the business? 

Of course, the answer is going to vary a lot just depending on the business you run. But I suspect the answer we’d all like to give is pretty similar- I’d like to be able to leave my business from time to time for some short and some longer periods of time without it stalling, falling down or meaning I come back to a ton of work to catch up. 

When I used to be a business broker, one of the top reasons business owners wanted to sell was burnout and that often came with a claim along the lines of “I haven’t taken a vacation in five years” or some other horrifically long period of time. 

For me, I’ve taken off seven weeks so far in 2023 and it’s only July. That wasn’t seven weeks of completely cut off, but seven weeks where work wasn’t my primary activity and what I mainly did was check and respond to email for about 15 minutes a day (and sometimes not at all). 

I wouldn’t claim my business generates passive income by any stretch- I am actively involved and even when I’m not there I’m thinking about it and planning for it and working on it. But it doesn’t consume me and if I need time off or want time off I can take it without fear that when I come back all I will find is a smoking hole in the ground. 

But I worked hard to get here because from very early days I wanted to have a business that didn’t rely on my direct input to work. In the early days it’s harder because you don’t have a lot of resources to invest in support although today it’s easier than it was with outsourcing and the global labor force making many tasks very affordable to get help with. 

The difference is not low cost VAs however the difference is mindset. 

If you want to have a business that can work even when you are not there, then you have to do certain things differently: 

  • You have to operate via documented and consistent processes
  • You have to be willing to train and delegate
  • You have to hire the right people and empower them
  • You have to let go of the idea that only you can do certain things
  • You have to aim for growth and sharing realize hoarding and greed will hold you back

Not everyone is seemingly open to these ideas. They may like the idea of taking a vacation and coming back to find emails competently answered, new clients added, new revenue in the bank, payroll processed and everything else running smoothly as a concept

But then when you explain that means letting employees talk to customers, take sales calls, have access to process invoices or to the payroll portal, they act like you’ve asked them to donate a kidney. They can’t imagine letting someone else get their hands on their precious controls. But you can’t have it both ways. 

If you want to be able to leave you have to have trust that you’ve hired the right people and they can follow the system you’ve laid out to get the job done. If you want to pay the least amount to someone and not invest in growth so you can keep all the profits yourself, your business will never be able to let you go because you won’t allow it to. 

Not to mention chances are you’re not even good at all the parts of your business. Most business owners are not the best at accounting, HR, marketing, etc. 

By focusing on the best things you bring to the business and getting help for things others can do better the business overall does better. You doing everything means you are spending less time doing the thing that got you going in the first place and that hurts your growth and means you are making less than you could! 

Some people also might argue they like being a small or one person business and don’t want to manage others and don’t desire to grow bigger. That’s fine if that’s your goal and you’re happy with the trade off, but in my experience most people say that not because of a well thought out personal preference but either from lack of knowing and fear of the unknown or based on some past experience that went badly and now they have decided it can never work just because it didn’t work for them that time before. 

My counter to the above is that even the most dedicated one person business owner needs a break from time to time (and sometimes you need a break for reasons you didn’t plan or want!) and there is more at stake than just taking a vacation. 

The owner of a one person business doesn’t generally have something they can sell, whereas most businesses benefit the owner not only from the profit they make each year but also from realizing a liquidity event from selling the business. 

So they are significantly limiting the value they are getting from their work by staying solo business owners. Having even a part time remote team who can take on most of the admin and day to day functions can turn a one person or very small business into something much more attractive to a buyer and freeing for the owner. 

The bottom line is that every business owner should, in my opinion, be able to walk away from their business from time to time and not have to worry that it will all come crashing down without them there. 

If you can’t do that yet, but you want to, then the goal is clear. Work on creating processes and systems for how you run your business and then start delegating the completion of some of those tasks to others. Start slow and build. It gets easier as you go. And pretty soon you’ll find you can take a week or two (or more) off and everything keeps right on going without you. 

And that is what reaching the top of the mountain feels like when you’re a business owner.

Like what you see here? 

Join our mailing list to make sure you always received notification of the latest blog! Let us help you grow your business. 

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.