It’s an ongoing dilemma for millions of business owners: How to take vacations or other time off and still keep business on track. Not only do Americans take far fewer vacations than workers in other countries (hundreds of millions of vacation days go unused in the U.S. annually), but studies show that business owners take the least amount of time off of anyone.
Many business owners feel somehow guilty at trying to get away, perhaps because they are so emotionally tied to their companies. While the best vacation is one that truly allows you to relax and forget your troubles back at the office, in reality that’s just not going to happen for most business owners and entrepreneurs. So more and more are doing the next best thing by using technology to remotely manage their businesses while away.
Several tech-based “silver bullets” make this possible, including smart-phones, tablet computers, cloud-based business-management applications and wide availability of high-speed Internet connections.
Tom McGlynn, owner of California-based personal-fitness company RunCoach, used to struggle with keeping his business on track while traveling. Then he discovered how technology could come to the rescue. Now, rather than being office-bound for the summer, he travels around the U.S. to coach marathon runners.
Here are some tactics and technologies that can help any business owner achieve guiltless getaways:
• Get a smartphone. Busy business owners who’ve embraced smart-phones often say it’s a move that has entirely changed how they do business. “I used to carry a laptop when I traveled to keep track of things,” says a tennis club owner who goes to junior tournaments around the U.S. “But now all I need is my iPhone.” He receives and answers texts and emails quickly, keeps track of his schedule, checks tournament draws, gets directions and much more.
• Run your finances online. More than almost any other task, the ability to manage the financial side of your business from anywhere is a key to guiltless getaways. But the days of being tied to desktop software are long gone (or should be). These days, Web or cloud-based applications are the way to go.
• Outsource anything you can. Outsourcing is ideal for business owners who want to get more time away. Hire a virtual assistant to help with administrative tasks and scheduling. You might also consider working with other business owners to cover for each other when traveling. •