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How to Grow Your Business by Going on Vacation (Using Strategic Absence)

strategic absence

Are you sick of anxiety-riddled vacations — neglecting your family while worrying about your company back home? Here’s how you can grow your business through strategic absence.

When you’re a business leader sometimes vacation can be more stressful than work.

Yes, you’re happy to get away with your family. But as you pack your bags anxieties are building up in your mind

What’s going to happen while you’re gone? Can your team handle it? Will sales plummet? Will the office be flooded? Or burned down?

You’re constantly refreshing your email. Calling just to “check in.” 

Meanwhile, your spouse and kids are feeling neglected.

Your family and your team deserve better.

You can enjoy a blissful vacation and your business can grow while you’re away.

vacation on hammock

What is Strategic Absence?

Strategic absence is a way to make your vacation work for you. You take a nice vacation but set your team up so they grow stronger while you’re away.

The trick is to be proactive instead of reactive.

If you strategize your time off you’ll have a better business.

And that means more vacations in the future!

Before Your Vacation

Set clear expectations and helpful structures before you leave.

Put your trip on your calendar well in advance. Remind your team as the date approaches. 

And make sure they know that when you’re on vacation you’re off the grid. 

Set clear expectations that you’re not to be contacted unless absolutely necessary.

Create a system that encourages collaboration

Encourage team members to think for themselves and then meet to talk through solutions.

It’s also helpful to work through potential scenarios. Ask your team what they would do if something unexpected happened. 

And put the guidelines in writing.

Write out standard operating procedures (SOP’s) so that your team can consult a clear document for answers to their questions instead of emailing you for everything.

While on Your Vacation

This is the easy part. Enjoy your vacation.

Take email off your phone. Leave your laptop at home. Put access to the business out of reach.

Resist the temptation to check in. 

If you do after saying you won’t be available, your team will come to expect that you’re always accessible. 

They won’t learn to think for themselves. And your check-ins will convey that you don’t really believe they can handle things while you’re gone. 

Instead, rest, relax and have fun with your family.

After Your Vacation

When you get back from your vacation, it’s time to apply the “secret sauce.”

Ask your team three simple questions at your next meeting: what worked, what was broken and what was confused while you were away?

Have your team rapid brainstorm these ideas on sticky notes and put them up for everyone to see.

As explained in Jay Owen’s book, Building a Business that Lasts, this process is like magic.

You’ll discover how healthy your team is in a way you can’t do when you’re present. 

Your team will have uncovered issues you would have never noticed if you were there. Holes in systems and gaps in communication will emerge. Maybe things you thought were clear to your brain had never made it out of your head. 

Benefit From Your Strategic Absence

Now you’re able to create systems for fixing these issues.

But it’s not all problems. 

Chances are you’ll discover your team is better than you realized. You’ll have shown them you trust their judgment and they’ll have learned to problem solve on their own. 

Affirm these developments and your team will continue to take initiative whether you’re in the office or not.

Now that you have the right process in place, it’s time to start planning your next vacation.

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