As a small business owner, you dedicate yourself completely to every client and setting boundaries when trying to get some downtime is not a straightforward task

As a small business owner, you dedicate yourself completely to every client and setting boundaries when trying to get some downtime is not a straightforward task. You find yourself torn between wanting to be there for your clients and your need to disconnect.

  • However, is it necessary to choose between your needs and clients’?
  • Is there a way to have your cake and eat it too?
  • Can your absence be good for your clients as well as for you?

A few tricks can help you make the most of that time and help your clients do the same.

Prepare in advance

Start by asking yourself how long do you want to be away. Make a list of all the tasks you would have to do in that period. The length of preparation is directly affected by the amount of time you want to be away for. The longer you plan on being absent, the longer you should prepare for it. Once you produce that list of tasks, arrange it by difficulty. The preparation process might require more time than you expected and it makes sense to start by dealing with the most demanding ones first. In case it demands more time than expected, you will have started with the most challenging ones and potentially have some time to spare.

Delegate the responsibility

When you take a look at the list, divide it into those tasks that you can finish before you go and those you will need to delegate. Think about whom you can rely on while you are away since life and business will continue. Work should not depend on you to run smoothly. In case it does, that means the process is dependent on you and can break at any time. You might agree that is not a true recipe for success. Therefore, think about who can replace you and for what tasks.

Distribute responsibility onto your colleagues, so you can rest in peace and neither one of them, in particular, feels overwhelmed with responsibility. Inform your clients whom to turn to regarding what topic in case they require help while you are away. Besides showing you care about them and providing them the needed assistance, you will also gain some freedom from the chains of calls and emails.

Inspire independence

Wondering what to do in case you work independently and no one to delegate tasks to? How does one set boundaries to clients if there are no team members to rely on? Would they feel abandoned and you feel guilty if you didn’t respond when they needed you? There is a way to prevent these feelings and make this a learning and growing experience for both parties.

Start by making a list of topics you think they could try to contact you for while you are away. What on this list absolutely needs a prompt response, and what can wait? What can you say no to, or not respond and feel okay with it? Make sure these are boundaries you can stick to. Otherwise, you will be sending mixed messages to your clients if you respond to something you mentioned you will not address while being away. Furthermore, they will respect you for being able to set boundaries and respect them even if they are unhappy about them. The crucial step in the process is informing them about the boundaries in advance and making sure they know what to expect. Once you have informed them it is up to both of you to stick to the agreement. Most importantly it is on you since clients try most often testing those boundaries and you will have to practice maintaining them.

By starting to prepare ahead of time, you can also address your absence as a topic with your clients. Provide a time for them to express their thoughts about what could come up in the meantime, what they rely on you most of the time and what other resources can they turn to if needed? Besides helping you rest without feeling worried or tempted to respond back, this topic can encourage them to build more independence and resilience. In reality, you won’t always be there for them, nor will you be there constantly. No one will in fact. Therefore, this can be an opportunity to practice self-reliance and note down those issues they weren’t able to solve independently. This can bring to the surface the topic of resources (lack of them, really) in life and reliance on others. The more resources we have to turn to when in need, the greater the chances those needs will be fulfilled. In coaching for the businesswoman, the topic of boundaries is an important one to examine and practice. Your absence can spark this immensely important life topic.

Utilize downtime to enlighten issues or processes to be improved

Interestingly, the process of you being away can demonstrate what area of business needs improvement. Where are the breaking points that depend solely on one person? What were your colleagues contacting you for when you were away? How can you be confident to have necessary instructions in place, or a process, to address those key issues before your next vacation?

Use the mistakes or problems that occurred as valuable insights about the specific areas requiring operational improvement. Besides, utilize the time before your next vacation to set procedures in place and test it while being away next time. Additionally, you can address it with your clients too. Not all of them know in advance what are ordinarily the things they rely on you for. The absence of such a valuable resource enlightens and reveals a possible way of searching and providing support for those needs.

Lead by example

What if you were to look at your downtime as an opportunity to learn and improve? Think of it as a unique chance to improve processes and inspire self-reliance in clients (primarily coaching clients). By properly taking care of yourself and carefully respecting the boundaries you are setting, you are leading by example. Furthermore, this is exceptionally significant in direct coaching for women in business since they need to do the same at some point and will, this way, have an example to think of. This will promote their growth, and it is an essential part of coaching for success. Now go ahead and arrange that downtime so you can come back refreshed and ready to improve!

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