Over the past few years I have helped quite a few business owners plan for taking time out of their businesses. Whether it’s to have a baby, take a trip, focus on a different project or for other health reasons every single one of them have successfully stepped back from their business and then been able to step back in.
All of these people took similar steps to make their transition successful. I too have been through this process - more than once! I've spent the past few months preparing for the arrival of baby #3 and setting up Spring Three to continue without my daily presence
So, if you want to take that 3 week trip, invest in a new training program or simply know that you can’t keep going at your current pace… read on. I want to share with you how I made it happen and what I have seen work well for other studio business owners.
Ok, shocking I know! When it comes to taking time out of your business, you either choose to make it happen or you are forced to make it happen. Either way, your business will survive, (and do well) if you plan ahead.
Time to make some decisions:
When will your time off begin
How long will you be "out of office"?
Do you intend to be totally out of contact for part or all of that time?
How does your time-off change the goals you have for your business?
Once you have these parameters set, you can begin to really plan. Let’s dive in.
What will need to change?
Often business owners are such great do-ers they forget how much they DO in their business. So, start with a complete brain dump of all the things you do in your business.
Then take a look at that list…
Is there anything that can get cut while you are out?
What can be completed in advance?
Can anything be automated?
Can the rest be delegated or completed after you return?
Next, let’s tackle the financial element of you leaving your business.
Work through the financial implications
You will likely need to review and adjust your revenue goals. If you are a big revenue generator inside your business, you’ll need to allow for that when setting a new revenue goal.
What about your income?
Do you plan on paying yourself?
Do you plan on taking a pay cut?
Who will take on some of your responsibilities and will you have to pay them more?
What other costs are associated with delegation?
Managing the financial impact of your time off is crucial to sustaining your business. Be prepared!
Let’s talk a little more about how your business will continue to run without you.
Who will help you?
If you have a team, let them know your plans early. BUT, only let them know once you have a plan! If you tell your team before you are prepared, you may cause unnecessary speculation and worry about their future in your business.
The key members of your team should be told in a one-on-one situation. Depending on the size of your team, you may want to communicate this news over coffee with each member of your team. If you want your team to stick around - this is an in-person conversation!
Be sure to let them know your dates, who and how the business will run while you are out and your expectations of them during that time. Be prepared to answer lots of questions or no questions at all! Be clear with them about how you plan to communicate with them and how accessible you will be.
If you are delegating tasks to your staff, you will want to train them on their new responsibilities. Another reason to start planning early! Document everything, write out checklists or create step by step instructions. Spend plenty of time with your team working through all the things you’ll want them to take care of while you are out. Be sure to let them know how you want them to share business updates with you.
How often will you be checking in?
What will you want to be told about immediately?
How should your team get in touch?
Top Tip: Start not doing things sooner rather than later to make sure you are leaving things the way you want them.
Once you have done that... it’s time to tell your clients.
Telling your clients
Again, this should be done early to prepare them and manage expectations.
You may want to transition clients to other teachers your switch-out your regular class times with another instructor.
You will need to make sure your clients feel very well looked after during this time. This is so important! Especially if you have a strong presence in your studio, are a lead instructor or are responsible for client service, you will need to think through how to manage your clients in this transition.
Be sure to address any potential concerns. Let them know you are coming back, your general plan for while you are gone and when they should expect you see you again.
A personal note sent via email or a notice in the studio are both great ways to share the news. But, for your top spenders, you’ll want to speak to them in person.
Finally, do something fun with your team. During any period of change you want to imprint a sense of empowerment among your team and your staff. Why not go bowling, plan a movie night or do an escape room… all fun and bonding experiences!
Above all, as you enter into the next chapter, remember to be flexible!
Things will come up you weren’t expecting, things might get messy or not go to plan. That’s ok! Thinking through the different scenarios during your planning process will help you and your business remain strong and sustainable regardless of the challenges that might arise.
Good luck & go for it!
(and enjoy that time off!)