How to take a vacation if you run a home-based business

Flip flops on dock beside water

What are your summer vacation plans?

I’ve always loved this time of year. Summers feel like a reward for the year’s hard work and a good excuse for some downtime (even if you aren’t a student). Even though it’s been nine years since my youngest was in school, I still feel like I’ve earned the break.

Last summer, in the midst of covid, I had a wonderful staycation. I enjoyed ten days of online quilt classes and lectures. It felt very indulgent — and frankly pretty awesome — to spend time on a hobby when I could have been working on my business. Some of my solopreneur buddies applauded my decision and others expressed disapproval about two weeks off for something frivolous like quilting. The truth is that we all deserve a break from our businesses and a chance to gain a new perspective — even when we’re self-employed.

This year travel is again possible but I am still nervous about covid. I will definitely take a couple weeks off for rest and relaxation, and hopefully some more online quilting classes.

How can home-based business owners take a vacation?

The challenge with being a home-based business owner is that our work is never done. And if you run a solo business, there isn’t a staff on hand to cover while we’re away. There’s no boss or official vacation policy to insist that we take a break. Even if we decide to take a day or so off, if you’re home-based it’s difficult to step away from the business when your office is the kitchen table!

The good news is that, with a little planning, home-based entrepreneurs can take time off for vacations and holidays. Below are some suggestions about how to make it happen!

  1. Schedule time off. Look at your calendar at the beginning of the year. Schedule time off for holidays and vacations. Even though it’s only January, mark off vacation for Spring break, a week in the summer, and the week of Thanksgiving (or whatever works for you). Also mark any holidays or important dates (such as your birthday) when you don’t want to work.
  2. Commit to your plans. As a home-based entrepreneur, I know that it is never an ideal time to take a vacation. Never. Block off your schedule. Commit to meeting up with friends. Or make non-refundable flight reservations that mean you lose money if you don’t take time off. Another option is to add a few days of R&R on after a conference or business trip.
  3. Start a vacation fund. Unfortunately, there is no employer paying for a home-based entrepreneur’s time off. Put money in a vacation fund so that you aren’t stressing about money while you’re on vacation.
  4. Train your clients. It’s good practice to not be available 24/7 and to let your clients know that you take regular time off. (Most people totally understand and do the same.) This will make taking a vacation much easier.
  5. Automate whatever you can. Thankfully technology lets us pre-schedule social media posts and allows customers to update their accounts online. Making good use of technology is a big key to freedom.
  6. Have pre and post-vacation procedures. Make a checklist of what you need to do prior to your vacation. Unlike people who have an office outside their home, home-based entrepreneurs need to make sure that their homes are taken care of while they’re away. This may include having the post office hold your mail, finding someone to cut your lawn, paying bills, or gathering pet supplies so your fur-babies can be boarded while you’re away.
  7. Let clients know your schedule. I advise sending an email at least one month ahead of your vacation, letting clients know that you will be out of town and how this impacts them. When I was a copywriter, for example, I told people the date that their newsletter had to be received if they wanted it edited before my vacation.
  8. Be careful. If your clients know that you’re home-based, you do not want to advertise that your home will be empty. Tell people you’ve found a house-sitter and your dwelling will be occupied. (In my case, we always have someone staying with our dogs, and I make that clear to clients.)
  9. Ask for help. Some of my time off is spent visiting my parents in Canada. Their subdivision has the poorest Internet connections I’ve ever seen and WIFI is also spotty. Since I post daily prompts on the Solopreneur Academy Facebook page, I ask a couple of members to chime in online and keep the discussion going.
  10. Take a few extra days. Publicize your vacation as a day or two longer than it really is. That gives you extra time to get ready and to recover. Murphy’s Law comes into play before vacations and you are almost guaranteed to have some kind of last-minute business crisis to deal with. After your vacation, you will need a day (or more) to get back into work mode. You will be grateful for scheduling those extra days.

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How to take a vacation if you run a home-based business
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