09 Sep How I took a one-month vacation from my business
Well, I did it. I “Clockworked” my biz! I designed this biz, Reconciled Solutions, to run by itself and I also proved my team could handle it. How did I prove it? By taking a one-month vacation for myself! Keep reading to find out what lessons I learned from taking a full month away from my business.
Pulling it off takes planning.
I’m feeling grateful to have accomplished this goal. I also know that none of it would have been possible without years of planning and what I learned from joining a community of entrepreneurs as a Mastery-Level Profit First Professional five years ago.
I spent a lot of time these past years revising, restructuring, and rebuilding every touchpoint in this business. Many lessons were learned along the way to this pinnacle one-month vacation. The most prominent lesson is that I am, as a business owner, more than the sum of my business. I am also a mother, wife, sister, friend, and much more!
The average business owner works 72 hours per week, according to the Center for Creative Leadership. I am now stronger in my conviction than ever before that the team at Reconciled Solutions can help ourselves, and our clients, be relieved of the burden of a 72-hour workweek and stop being tethered at the hip to our businesses.
Being a full-time mom is not easy.
First of all, I learned that being a full-time mom is no joke! I have three teens in my household and my month was spent chasing them around the country in pursuit of their various interests and escapades. My oldest is off to begin her freshman year of college this fall, and I spent a fair amount of time helping her prepare. We were blessed with a mother-daughter trip to New York City. There we enjoyed the “smells of humanity” that only NYC can share!
We traversed to our first-ever opera with my musical middle daughter and enjoyed the sounds of “The Magic Flute” in English, not Italian. Next, we headed to Cooperstown, NY for my youngest to play baseball and hit his first-ever walk-off home run. With all this activity under my belt, I learned that full-time momming is way harder for me than part-time momming! Oh, the drama and hormones of my 3 fabulous teens. They are lovely– but exhausting!
I really missed working!
This leads me to my next big discovery about myself, which is that I love working! Personally, I find it way less stressful to work AND mom in one day than to focus on only the mom part of my life. I really missed work! A couple of times during the month, I found myself reaching out to my fabulous Operations Manager, Tatyana Shamarina, whom I had left in charge while I was gone. I would say things like, “I miss working.” She would promptly tell me to go get a life away from this biz.
To truly disconnect, take email off of your phone.
I was fretting all month long about “what-ifs” when honestly, I did not need to be. My team did an amazing job! The big thing I had to do to truly disconnect from work was take my business email off of my iPhone. Did you know that you can still leave your calendar, contacts, and reminders intact on your phone while disconnecting the email? It was a freedom I had never felt, being so far removed from email for such an extended period of time! I am proud of myself for having the druthers to stick with it and not go back and turn on my email prematurely, especially when I was missing work and the adrenaline rush of offering advice to a client or staff member that positively impacts them.
What my team learned to do without me is astounding!
I mentioned that my team did an amazing job without me for my month off and I truly meant it! So many critical moves happened without my knowledge. First, my fabulous Tatyana, who is second in command, got hit with COVID-19 which led to pneumonia. Throughout her sickness, she holed herself up in her bedroom with her laptop on the desk beside her and kept things moving forward. She did this even while suffering the effects of COVID-19, pneumonia, and physical exhaustion. I did not even find out about the illness until I got back to work. How do you like them apples?
My team was empowered to shine and make decisions independently
Before I left, we had two critical activities going on. The first is that we were starting and building a new relationship with a key offshore vendor. When I returned from vacation, I learned that the new vendor relationship did not develop as we had hoped. My management team did not feel they were producing the high-quality work we require from our vendors. I was thrilled to find out they did not wait for me to make the decision. They parted ways with the vendor. They recognized that the work was sub-par and they ended the relationship, then began looking for an alternative solution. Now that is the essence of decision-making.
The second critical work going on at Reconciled Solutions when I left in mid-July was preparation for the fourth cohort of my group coaching class, “Startup Solutions and Profit First Coaching”. We were worried about getting enough students enrolled in the class, especially given I would not be around to do lead-nurturing calls and speaking that typically leads up to the start of the group course. When I got back, I was joyfully surprised to find out that we had eight registered participants in the course– the most we have had yet. What a gift and an act of empowerment by my salesperson, Kitty Conroy!
Each of my team members shined in their own way. As I look back at it now, I could not be more thrilled that I didn’t step in their way and instead let their individual stars shine!
Taking time away opens up new possibilities
Pre-vacation, I considered the one-month vacation to be the “graduation day” of slow and steady work that has progressed for the past five years. After the fact, I’m finding that this is only the beginning.
We have entered an exciting new stage of business. The realization that I CAN leave for one month without the business falling apart opens up a new world of possibilities.
What’s next for us at Reconciled Solutions?
I plan on continuing this one-month vacation every summer for years to come. My kids have only ever known a working mom. It will be good for them to have some time with mom without that 72-hour workweek eating into their relationship with me.
Tatyana is next. We will work up to getting her off on a one-month vacation next because we ALL need rest and rejuvenation.
I will continue to pursue new interests, knowing that some of the operations side of the business works well enough to continue without me. I’m hoping to spend more time developing group coaching content. I want to continue to grow my one-on-one client strategy coaching so other small business owners like me can find profitability and lifestyle sustainability in their own businesses.
Volunteering my time to help teenagers develop business and financial skills is also something I’d like to do. I feel like this is sorely needed among the next generation of future leaders. One thing that will definitely happen the next time around? I will fret less and enjoy more. I’ve learned to enjoy all of the roles in my life and nurture the relationships that have resulted from being more than just a small business owner.