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Vacations — entrepreneur style

It’s that time of year when most everyone is thinking about the same thing: vacation.

It means something different to everyone, but for most we define it the same way the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary does – “a respite or a time of respite from something, a period of exemption from work granted to an employee, a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation”.

But what does it really mean to be on vacation as an entrepreneur?

When you are employed and leave on vacation, you typically have someone watching the office and handling your calls and emails. You may check them once a day – hopefully not more than that – but occasionally, you even have the ability to just not check them at all knowing someone back at the office will handle the fires until you get back.

But as an entrepreneur, you are always thinking, answering, planning, growing, and putting out fires.

As an entrepreneur, your job is to keep the business moving forward and tackle the problems which, in our case, inevitably arise when on vacation.

A couple true examples. . . .

– First vacation we took in two years was a trip in October. We had hired an excellent office manager; she was running the show. Two days into our week, she comes down with the flu.

– After some major storms, we got the call that our telephone system was fried. No one could check voice mail messages. No calls were coming in.

– A retail store nightmare — the Internet is down and therefore no credit card transactions can be processed.

– Our retail office manager ended up in the hospital.

So what do you do?

The most important thing to think about when owning your own business is the contingency plan. What could possibly go wrong – this is the time to be negative because really, you’re being proactive. Who are you going to call? Who can help you get through the “problem?”

Hiring excellent employees is the first step, but going beyond the employees to other business partners is just as important – such as an excellent, all-around “handy-man.”

One Saturday last month, we got a call from one of our rental property tenants. They didn’t have any hot water.

It’s the weekend; we’re sitting on the beach. Who is going to even think of trying to fix this situation on a Saturday? A few telephone calls and we have our handyman at the house, checking it out, reporting to us that it’s going to be an expensive weekend. But, our expensive weekend still left us dealing with it – with our toes in the sand.

No matter what your entrepreneurial venture, know your weaknesses and find good people to fill the voids. You’ll be stronger in the long run – and able to enjoy your vacation, as only entrepreneurs can.