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Owning a business should empower, not confine you. Even if you aren’t planning on getting married, I bet a break would be nice, wouldn’t it?

In this post, I’ll tell you about the systems you can put in place to run your business for you, so that you can get busy relaxing and enjoying your life outside of work.

Saying “Yes”

When Leigh and I decided to get married 15 years ago, he was running two businesses – a bakery he owned (with poor sales) and a bakery he leased that had great sales and cash flow. I owned a Boost Juice franchise that was just starting to turn a profit. Clearly, we had our fair share of responsibilities.

It was New Year’s Eve 2006 when Leigh proposed. As the clock struck midnight, I said an enthusiastic “yes” as we overlooked Melbourne’s Yarra River, with fireworks exploding overhead. Within days, we began planning our wedding, but also our honeymoon. Since we both love to travel and Europe was high on our bucket list, we decided that we’d explore England, Ireland, France, Italy and Turkey.

To make the most of our 24-hour flight from Melbourne to London, we wanted to stay for five weeks. The only problem was that we had three businesses to run, two of which were not huge money makers. How could we get away for that long and still profit? Most importantly, who would run our businesses for us?

As we mulled over logistics, our rough timeline began to take shape: We would get married in August and honeymoon throughout October and November. Travelling during shoulder season would not only make it more affordable, we would arrive back home before Christmas, which was a peak time in our stores.

With our honeymoon taken care of, we turned our attention to the stores.

Handing over the Reins to 3 Stores

When we broached the topic with our key staff members, they wondered how everything would run without us. Naturally, we were prepared for this conversation and recommended a two-pronged approach: (1) we would train them to do every task we oversee in the run of a day, and (2) we would compensate them for the higher level of responsibility during our time away (especially since we wouldn’t be checking in).

In January we set aside time to reflect on and document everything we do in each of our businesses, our rationales behind each activity, who we interact and liaise with, and the time of day that works best for each task. With master lists in hand, we got to work on training our point people from February to August.

Something that was key in bringing all of the moving pieces together was that our bookkeeper agreed to pay our staff’s wages and business expenses while we were away. For this, we simply gave her access to our joint bank account and provided the staff with addressed, stamped envelopes so that they could mail her all the invoices once a week, and they sent pictures of the timesheet for her to pay wages.

For our wedding in August, we took a week off to enjoy ourselves and give our staff a trial period. Since it was only for one week, we didn’t ask our bookkeeper to do anything out of the ordinary.

After we returned, we sat down with our key people and asked if there were any issues they struggled with or whether we needed to tweak our processes. As it turned out, all of our planning had paid off – there were no issues. Still, for practice, we asked them to keep performing these duties up until October (and we compensated them accordingly), so that they would continue to be familiar and comfortable with what needed to be done.

By the time October rolled around, Leigh and I were elated while our key staff members were, understandably, a bit nervous. After all, there’s a big difference between being away for one week versus five. When we sat down with them this time, we invited them to ask questions on every hypothetical scenario they could conceive of, and then went over how we would approach each of them, piece-by-piece, to ease their concerns.

We also notified our head offices that we would be away, identified the individuals we were leaving in charge, and asked them to check in periodically to ensure all went well. With their permission, we gave our staff their numbers and clarified who they should call for any emerging issues. That way, if they needed help they knew where to find it and would always feel supported.

A Dream Come True

With all of our preparations in place, we were able to enjoy the honeymoon of our dreams! We explored England, Ireland, France, Italy, Turkey and even Singapore. Throughout our five-week adventure, we didn’t receive a single call. And when we returned, we were able to ease back into our roles because our businesses were operating exactly the same as when we had left them.

Now, we want to share our top 7 tips with you, so that you can create more work/life balance:

  1. Identify which tasks need to be taken over and the best person to do so
  2. Put a training plan in place to teach those skills
  3. Have a “test period” for staff to apply their training and determine if any changes need to be made
  4. Compensate your team for their extra duties
  5. Notify anyone who will be liaising or coordinating with them about the temporary change
  6. Have emergency procedures in place for such things as staff becoming sick, equipment failures and ingredient orders not turning up.
  7. Relax, knowing that you’ve taken care of everything.

This is what your life as a business owner can look like, if you formalize your processes and have the right people in place for the job.

If you want help for a big upcoming event or to set up your business to run like this every day, let’s have a conversation to sort logistics and enable you to live your best life. Using our Work Life Flexibility Formula™, Leigh and I will explore every aspect of your business and personal life to work out systems and provide you with tips to take away the stress and free your time for cherished moments. To book a time to chat, please visit www.parentbosslife.com and click “work with us.”

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