Episode 67: How to Keep Your Business Running While You’re On Vacation
Transcript Episode 67
Welcome to the 100 Degrees of Entrepreneurship podcast the show for purpose driven entrepreneurs who want to get inspired to step outside of your comfort zone. Expand it to your purpose and grow your business in a big way. I’m your host, Stephanie Skryzowski, a globe trotting CFO whose mission is to empower leaders to better understand their numbers to grow their impact and their income. Let’s dive in!
Hey, everybody! Welcome back to 100 degrees of entrepreneurship. I am Stephanie and I am talking to you today about vacations, and specifically how to keep your business running while you’re on vacation.
I think that’s the dream, right? We want our business to run smoothly with, or without us, whether we are sitting at our desk or sitting on a beach somewhere.
So, I’m recording this episode because I’ve taken two vacations in the last two months, basically. And that’s not normal for me. It just so happens that the timing of our two vacations for the whole year happened to be crammed into the months of April and May.
So as you’re listening to this episode. I have just gotten back from my second vacation of the year and the business did not stop while I was on vacation with my family!
And let’s just like, let me be real here. I brought my laptop with me on both vacations. I was not so disconnected that I didn’t even have my laptop. Right? I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t look at my email every day, cause I did.
I definitely looked at my email. I checked on my phone in the morning. Forwarded handled what needed to be handled. And then that’s it. I did not take any calls. I don’t take calls while I’m on vacation.
Um, and I didn’t really have to do any work. It was more just like managing communication and like kind of triaging things with the team, but it wasn’t always this way. In fact, I have gone on many vacations where I have taken calls.
I’ve led board meetings while on vacation. I have been closing the books for clients while on vacation. And while I don’t feel like I ever totally missed out on vacation. It’s nice to be able to disconnect once in a while. You know what I mean?
And so I have been able to do that this year, and I’ve really been able to narrow it down to a few specific things that I have done in the business that have led me to this point where as the CEO. When I take a vacation, I can actually consider it a vacation. It’s not just working from a different location. I think you all probably know what I mean.
So anyway, I wanted to share with you today, what those specific things are that I have done inside of my business that have allowed me to take her real vacation and sounds so silly. Right? Cause I feel like in a lot of, um, in a lot of corporate jobs, you log off and you’re done, right? Like you don’t think about work until you log in again. And while that’s awesome. That’s just not the case of entrepreneurship. And I know you listening are entrepreneurs, so let’s talk about it.
So the two things that I have sort of grouped into different categories of what we’ve done to keep the business running smoothly while on vacation is related to people and systems.
So I’ll do the systems piece first, in the beginning, right? Like I’m doing everything manually in my business. I’m just like getting it done, right? And over time. So you may, you may be able to relate and overtime as you continue to grow, you’re going to automate things and use different software that make things a lot smoother. A lot easier.
And so we have automated, oh my gosh. I can’t even begin to tell you how much we’ve automated in the business. Especially over probably the last two years. Our operations manager is Danielle. If you’re listening, Danielle shout out has really automated, like so much in our business.
So as you know, we do bookkeeping and CFO for businesses and non-profits around the world. So we are sharing a lot of passwords. And one of the things that we streamlined was the way that we are securely storing and sharing these passwords, they used to all sort of reside in my personal LastPass account. And we’ve since streamlined that whole process.
So not only is our client’s information really secure, but also the. Who needs it can access it and it doesn’t rely on me. I used to be getting like Stripe authentication codes and bank authentication codes to my phone constantly while on vacation while whenever. Right? But we’ve automated that process and streamlined it entirely. So I am out of that.
We have also taken me out of the proposal writing process, right? We, instead of me having a discovery call with a potential client, and then sitting for a half hour, digesting my notes and essentially writing out a customer. Every single potential client. I’m not kidding. That is what we did. That was what I did for a really long time. We’ve streamlined that process.
So after a discovery call, our client success manager fills out a standard form that then automatically populates a proposal template over in Dubsado. And our operations manager like reviews it and sends it out.
And then the whole proposal agreement kickoff called that whole process. All automated, like one action triggers. The next action triggers the next action and it’s all automated.
So basically, you know, I can have a discovery call before I leave. And by the time I get back that client could have a signed agreement, a form of payment on file, and a kickoff call scheduled. And I have not done a thing to make that happen.
So that is how the business keeps running without you while you’re on vacation!
So that is just a couple examples of things that we have done. And basically what we did to figure out like, okay, where do we begin in terms of streamlining our systems? I mapped out the entire like workflow, our entire process from the moment that a discovery call hits my calendar, all the way to like their first monthly close with us.
And I mapped out every step along the way. And I figured out those points. I was involved in manually doing something. And so each of those little, I like literally put each step on post-it notes. I did this with my husband who’s a project manager. So we had post-it notes, like all across our kitchen windows.
And every time there was a post-it note with an action that I had to take, we stopped. And we said, okay, how do we automate this? Streamline this, get me out of this. So I am not central to every single client interaction along the way.
So that’s how we did it. Um, we’d literally like mapped out every little minute step and found the pieces that were super inefficient or duplicative or really manual or, or central to me, whatever that might be. And then we figured out a way to streamline and automate it.
And I will be the first to say, I did not do most of this. Like the processes I identified the processes and the, my team was the ones that came up with the solution and implemented the solution and trained the team.
So I think first of all, think about. What processes you have in your business, what are super manual? What require you right now, but don’t necessarily need to require you. Right? We’ve even gotten to the point where our client success manager is able to take discovery calls and lead discovery calls without me.
I’m still on a lot of them as much as I can, but if I’m out of the office, a potential client does not need to wait until I get back from vacation or I get back from a conference or whatever. If I’m out of the office, they don’t have to wait until I get back in order to speak with somebody on our team and potentially get going with us.
And so that is the beauty of like having these systems and processes in place. And it’s just been like really a game changer in my business, in my life, to be able to have systems that are working for me behind the scenes. So that I can serve the clients that I work on really well, so that I can, you know, take a vacation once in a while. So that I can go to conferences and speak all of those kinds of things.
And it just got me thinking about a book by Mike the book. So if you’ve read clockwork, basically what Mike Michalowicz wits is advocating. And by the way, Mike Michalowicz it’s is the profit first guy. So he wrote profit first and he also wrote clockwork among many other books.
So in clockwork, basically what he’s saying is he wants to help your business get set up, to run like clockwork. And the test is can your business not just survive, but thrive without you. And he has you take like a vacation.
I want to say you have to schedule like a month off of your business, like a whole four weeks off consecutively, like a year from when you start this process. And I think he has, you do like a two week test or something.
So you like literally step out of your business for a couple of weeks and you figure out, you know, basically it’s their testing time, right? What’s broken? What do we need to fix in the meantime so that you can take four weeks off at a time? So that’s what, that’s what he has to do in clockwork.
And the whole idea is that your business continues to grow without you, right? Not just survive or stay status quo, because I think all of our businesses are set up at least to the point where they can survive without us. Right?
If you had to step away for five days, five business days in a row, a Monday through Friday, like yeah. Your business would still be there at the next Monday. Right? But would it be continuing to grow? Would it be continuing to thrive? Operate just as well as a ties with you in the day to day. And that is the point. That’s what I’m talking about here.
And so my business for a while was at the point where yeah, we could definitely survive a week or two if I was out. But like, you know, client onboarding and new clients and, you know, board meetings and big kind of big things in the business would stop. And they would just resume when I got back. Right. And that’s not the point here.
What we want is how to keep your business thriving while you’re on vacation.
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Okay! So I talked about the first thing, which is streamlining our systems and our processes and automating as much as we can and making sure that, you know, we have software and tools that are working for us. That was the first thing.
So the second thing is people. So, we need people, right? Like a software, at least in a service business, like mine, where we have people on our team that are directly serving clients, people, you need people to kind of keep things going, right?
So one of the first things that we did, and if you may have heard me talk about this before, um, was hire.
Our team has doubled in the last year, because we have finally gotten ahead of the hiring curve. Instead of overloading our team and running at a hundred percent capacity all the time, we added more people.
So everyone is running at like 75, 80% capacity. So if one person is out sick, either expectedly or unexpectedly, if somebody goes on maternity leave, whatever it might be, we have coverage. We have people on the team. That always have a little bit of leeway in their schedule. Literally everybody does so that we can cover for each other.
We can fill in gaps. Yes. It taps the bottom line. Right. It’s going to be more expensive to have more people on the team, but it also makes everyone’s life way better. And the way we show up for our clients, way better, because we’re not currently always like running on E basically. We hired. So that means when I’m out, there are people that if I, you know, I do still work with clients.
And so there are people to cover for me, if there is client work that I need to do, and there are team members to cover for each other as well. So I think that is a big thing is that we hired. And in addition to hires that are directly client facing, we also hired some, you know, ” overhead.” Overhead hires.
And I hate to talk about them that way, but it’s really, our client success manager is kind of like my number two and she’s really overseeing the entire team that serves our clients as well as like managing client relationships.
Because that was a big thing as well. You know, when I was away, there was really nobody to oversee the team and be that go-to person to support them or, you know, help if a client needed to adjust their scope of work.
Like all of that had to wait until I returned home from vacation. So hiring somebody to oversee the biggest piece of our business is not only, you know, relieving time off my plate so that I can actually take a vacation and log off for a couple of days and also keeping the business running. But like she is providing so much support to our team so that our team can better support our clients.
And so. That was a huge step in allowing the business to continue to thrive while I am away. Right. Like I am, I’m going to be doing more speaking and, you know, more work like that. And that’s going to mean I am not able to support the team quite as much in, at the same level. And so hiring this position was huge to allow our business to continue to thrive.
The other thing that we’ve done is we’ve really changed our internal structure. And we have assigned two people to every single client. So instead of a client having just one person at 100 degrees responsible for all of their bookkeeping, all of their CFO, you know, sort of financial oversight, all of that stuff.
We have two people assigned to every single client. Um, including the clients that I’m working. So every parcel is every client has two people cross trained and in the loop on that client. So if one person is out, work does not stop.
You know, we had somebody on our team had a family situation where they had to be out of the office for several weeks at a time. But because we had everybody cross-trained, it really was not a big deal at all.
And this also allows not only me, but everybody on the team to have a vacation, we have gotten, you know, a couple of years ago, we were at the point where. Nobody on the team was really able to have a true vacation. I had people on the team saying, oh yeah, I’m going to be on vacation, but like, I’m just going to run payroll for this client.
Or I’m just going to run these reports for this client. It’s not a big deal. And I’m like, whoa, okay. If nobody on the team is able to take a true vacation because we have to do just one little thing or just two little things for a couple of clients. Like that is not the way that our business is going to thrive. Right?
We don’t want to have everything paused. If someone is out. A good reason, like a vacation or for a, not so good reason, like a family emergency or an illness. Right. So we have everybody cross-trained and we have all of our processes documented in ClickUp, which is our project management software.
So not only does this, obviously. Just provide super strong continuity for our clients. Like we are, you know, they do not have to worry at all. We have got them covered no matter what, it also provides a really fun learning opportunities for the team to try out new things and to learn different things.
And everybody on our team is just such like a, a lifelong learner type personality. So everybody’s really enthusiastic about learning about new clients, new processes, new things in the business.
And so, that work that we have done to just sort of restructure our people internally, as well as, um, the way that we’ve, you know, teamed up and cross trained. Our team has allowed us also to keep the business, not only just running, but thriving when somebody is out of office.
So, like I said, this is not something that has been true. This is not something I probably could have even said 365 days ago. Um, but it’s been a lot of work and really strong financial and time investments into our team, to get us to the point where I really do believe that when anyone on our team is out of the office, the business will continue not just to survive, but to thrive.
So, I didn’t mean to necessarily have two vacations back to back. Like I said, it was, these are two vacations for the year and we have decided to cram them into like a six week period. Which is kind of crazy! But it was a really good test of like, okay, How well are we set up? What is broken? What do we still need to fix?
And I think we have realized a couple of things after that first vacation. And at the time of recording, I am leaving on the second vacation in a few days, but by the time you listen to this, um, I will be back from vacation.
So maybe I’ll have to do another, like check back in and let you know how it went, but I’m sure after the second vacation. We’ll have some more learnings and things that we need to figure out. Okay, well, this stopped while you were on vacation. So let’s figure out what that might be.
And while, you know, the book clockwork, like I said, really advocates, you taking off four weeks out of your business. I don’t know if I’m ready exactly to take four whole weeks off my business. I’m really not sure what I would do with myself with that amount of time.
But I think taking a week or two weeks off at a time is an amazing test for you to see what’s working really well in your business and what is automated or delegated to the point where, you know, everything is thriving and running as normal when you’re out.
And where are the broken pieces? Right? What stops? What does your team still need to consult with you on? And how could you possibly automate or systematize it or delegate it to somebody else on your team so that your business really can run without you.
And I don’t know about you, but I I’m sure someday in my future I will take a vacation and not bring my laptop. So I’m gonna bring my laptop on my upcoming vacation, this coming week just in case.
But I’m hoping there’s going to be a time when I feel a hundred percent amazing about stepping away for a couple of days without that laptop. So, I would love to hear a little bit about what you think about this pop on over to Instagram.
Tag me over there, @stephanie.skry. And let me know if you have ever taken any amount of time a week, two weeks, three weeks, maybe even four weeks away from your business without your laptop and things ran amazingly. Because if that is true for you . Like I gotta know. I gotta know your secrets anyway.
I hope you found this episode super useful. And just thank you so much for listening. We’ve been at this podcast game for over a year now. Almost, well, I guess a year and three months or so. And I’m just so appreciative of everyone that listens. And if you haven’t already, would you mind. First of all subscribing.
Second of all, just leaving us a quick review on iTunes. I know about you, but I appreciate it so much. I do this often when I hear one of my favorite podcasts asked me for a review, I do go over and leave a review. It takes like 30 seconds and I would just super appreciate it. Just legitimizes the work that we’re doing and allows us to reach more people. So thank you so much. Thanks for listening, friends. Talk to you soon!
Thanks for listening to the 100 degrees of entrepreneurship podcast. To access our show notes and bonus content, visit 100degreesconsulting.com/podcast. Make sure to snap a screenshot on your phone of this episode and tag me on Instagram @stephanie.skry and I’ll be sure to share thanks for being here friends and I’ll see you next time.
Transcript for Episode 67