Accountants find it challenging to find time for a getaway. You know, taking your loved ones to fun locales. Spending time on a road trip with friends. Or just you, a beach, and a book you’ve meant to read.
But you can’t, right?
After all, you’ve got a business to run. Sure, the busy season is in the rearview, but now you have to tidy up your firm a bit and go on the hunt for new talent (and clients). You may feel like there’s never enough time to get away. You’re not alone. A recent study found only 2% of accountants said they’re not affected by workplace stress, and honestly, they probably didn’t understand the question.
The point? It’s good to take a break, leaving your familiar surroundings and responsibilities behind.
Here are four ideas to get the vacation wheels turning (or holiday, depending on what you call trips). We’ll also offer tips to keep yourself from worrying about your firm while away.
Four vacation ideas to give yourself a proper reset
The non-accountant trip: You help businesses and individuals keep their financial lives organized. The workweek is accounting down to the penny. In the non-accountant trip, you’re throwing a bit of caution to the wind. Budgets are a bit looser, detailed agendas are replaced with big (general) ideas, and the journey is way more important than the destination.
Vacation idea: Rent an RV, stock it with all sorts of snacks, and head toward the most interesting-sounding location.
The complete getaway: What’s the ideal trip in your mind? Big cruise? Exotic locale? Route 66 road trip for three weeks? If you want to reset, get your mind off work by planning (and implementing) the trip you always wanted to take. Going on this particular adventure will help your mind leave the firm mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Vacation idea: This one almost has to involve a silky-smooth sandy beach, preferably one in a country that requires a valid passport.
The family affair: Go and relax with family. You can turn any other vacation suggestions into a family trip, but spend time with those around you. It’s a good idea to schedule one-on-one time with everyone. Be intentional about making memories and having meaningful conversations.
Vacation ideas: There are so many ideas here. You could load up to the most magical place on earth. Or, head to the Grand Canyon, your nation’s capital, or visit ruins in Mexico. It all depends on how you and your family want to spend your time.
The friend trip: Grab some buddies and hit the road. Plan a ski trip, take a golfing retreat, or book an all-inclusive resort and spend your PTO in the heat and sand. This one works for accountants of all ages who have at least one good friend who also has some time off to spend.
Vacation ideas: Get on the slopes at the nearest snow-capped mountains, or sit in the lodge by the fire. Head out for a gambling, golfing, or hiking trip. Or take a full week giving yourselves the spa treatment.
Things to take care of before you leave for vacation
Going on vacation as a business owner is hard, admittedly. You can disconnect by going on a remote adventure. (For example, a cruise disconnects you because few phone plans offer signals on the open seas.) But your business is still running while you’re gone.
So, what are a few things to mitigate or eliminate any need for yourself? Here are a few tips:
Have a client who regularly gets in contact to ask questions or check in on progress? Schedule a meeting with these clients before or after your trip dates. If it’s before, let them know you’ll be unavailable. They’re more likely to save any impromptu communication until your meeting if it's after. There’s something about how an intentional and meaningful meeting lowers the need for ongoing communication.
Note: This includes scheduling some time with your team, contractors, and other accountant partners.
One important item to cover in your pre-vacation meetings is cybersecurity. You should ensure all of your software is up-to-date, and encourage your clients to tie up any loose security ends, too. The last thing you want is to come back to a data breach.
Notify key clients
Even if you wouldn’t normally have spoken to your key clients during the time you’ll be out, it’s a good idea to give them the heads up that you’ll be unavailable. Make sure they know how long you’ll be gone, when you return to the office and who will be addressing any emergencies in your absence. This allows you to continue providing excellent customer service even while you’re out.
Put someone in charge
If you have a team of three or more, you’ll need to set an agenda and make sure they all know who to go-to for any questions. Not “busy work,” but what they would’ve done if you weren’t off on an adventure.
Although, if giving someone authority while you’re away isn’t an option, put tight-knit teams on a joint project while you’re away. Or possibly have them work on their personal development by attending a virtual conference or webinar that counts toward their CPE credits?
Make a phenomenal list of to-dos
Really. Take some time to list everything you could do before your departure date. Then, prioritize in three categories; “I must do,” “Someone else must do,” and “Would be nice to have done.”
The items you must do: Top priority tasks that only you are qualified to do. Maybe it’s to follow up on leads before leaving, work on a significant project, or work on your internal financial documents.
Delegatable tasks: There are not enough hours in the day. You’ll need to give others on your team the ability to shine by delegating essential tasks you’d like to see completed before you depart. (One example is automating client bookkeeping, so you and the team don’t have to worry about that element of your business, whether on or off vacation.)
Nice-to-dos: If you do have an abundance of time, these are the things that will make your return extra lovely. You know you're coming back to a clean to-do list as you sit on the plane or ride in the car.
Set your email auto-response
Ok, so several tutorials are available for setting an “out-of-office” message. Just Google your email provider and “out of office” or “vacation responder,” and a tutorial should pop right up.
Example: If you use Gmail, type “Gmail + vacation responder,” The first option is the steps to take to create your own.
Of course, you have to figure out what to put in it. Well, what not to put in the message is more important. For instance, if you expect an inbox flood of emails, don’t put something like, “I’ll respond as soon as possible when I return.”
Instead, try one of these two options:
“I expect a full inbox, so please email me your message again after [insert date].”
“Since I’ll be out until [insert date], please email pressing matters to [insert associate name and contact details].”
Bonus tip: Make sure you’re using smart mailboxes, or some sort of organized email system to label, prioritize, and attack the most important messages as soon as you return to the office.
Prepare your firm for more vacations (long-term solution)
Going on holiday isn’t too different from selling your firm. You want to step away from day-to-day activities, be ready to spend some time on yourself, and be able to do it without feeling guilty.
The long-term answer to spending time on vacation or succession planning when you’re ready is to create a smooth-running, hands-off firm.
Whether you’re looking at the calendar to find the best holiday window or someone is looking to acquire your business, you both want the same thing—for the firm to run without you, the same way it does when you’re there.
Is that happening in your firm?
Keep things running smooth all year long
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