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Any Business Owner Can Take Three Months Off

Why take three months off? Because you can! And, yes, this may be risky – but not as risky as not taking it! Our belief is that when an owner of a business is focused and on track then their world flows and a whole wealth of possibilities present themselves – there is momentum. On the flipside, our experience confirms that when a business is ‘off track’ this is due to the owner also being off track.

In today’s business environment, if you’ve been running a business for longer than five years and not taken a decent break, then you are likely to be running on empty or maybe just adrenalin. At some point you will need to stop, evaluate where you’re at and more importantly, where you’re going.

Unlike a corporate executive who can take a three-month sabbatical or someone in their twenties who can take off and travel the world, carefree, for months on end, it’s not so easy for owners of small business. For an owner of a small business to take such an amount of time off is a vastly different proposition as there is a great deal of uncharted territory to navigate through.

It is also interesting to note that providing three months of long service leave for a long-term employee is simply an expected entitlement. However, it is not typically part of the plan in a small business until it sometimes become a dire need.

For some business owners, taking three months off is a stepping stone. The bonus of the bonus. However, the real goal is to turn your business into an investment that provides you with a great return on your investment.

So, where do you start?

Make the Decision

It’s a great time of year to do some reality checks. Stop and ask yourself the question: ‘if the remainder of 2010 was similar to the beginning of 2010, would this be okay with me. Is the business on track, or are we simply going through the motions?’ If you feel you’re not on track, then make a decision to do something different. Conduct an honesty audit with yourself – is the business getting the best out of you and are you getting the best out of the business? Imagine what it would look like if you did take three months off? What would you have to do within your business to make this happen?

Avoiding Unnecessary Surprises

The real secret of a project of this nature is in knowing how to fast track this process by getting to the core issues rather than getting bogged down in self-limiting beliefs.

What you don’t want is any unnecessary surprises. The project of setting up your business so you can take three months off is a risk management process. You are not likely to turn up one day and tell your staff that you will be not be turning up to work for the next three months. At least not in real life. Something like this needs to be planned and evaluated. You can’t afford to have a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude

Because you own the business, you know exactly what makes it work, but it affects the way you think and operate: very hands-on, with a focus on immediate solutions, not long-term strategies. Worst of all, you are present or involved each time a decision is required – not a good idea for someone who plans to disappear for three months and expects the business to run well or better until you get back.

This decision-making process that is locked inside your head needs to be freely available to those who need it. And this needs to be documented before you leave.

So is the systemisation of your business the starting point?

Definitely not. As far as we are concerned, having the right people doing the right things are more important than having all the systems in place. Please don’t misunderstand me, we are believers in the systemisation of businesses. And there are countless books and tapes you can buy on this subject.

However, what we have found is that implementing systems without a strong reason why, for example the goal of taking three months off, could be lot of work without giving you the dividends of a much deserved holiday.

Engaging the Right People

Just because you are good at what you do, doesn’t mean you are a good manager of people. This is a whole new ball game for most business owners. To take three months off, you must have your team in place. Without them you have no hope. And the team refers to both internal and external people.

Your team must have similar values and standards. You compromise here, and you’ll pay dearly. Building a championship team starts with recruiting. And, this doesn’t mean you abdicate the recruitment to one of your managers.

A word of advice: the biggest mistake most owners make is that they recruit staff more from a skills perspective rather than first evaluating if they have the right attitude to match the company values or the job. You can always teach the skills required, but you can’t teach attitude!

What Jim Collins said in his ground breaking book “Good to Great” is it is imperative to have the right people on the bus and in the right seats. Otherwise everything will just come unstuck.

What this means is if you don’t have the right people in place you either need to provide the necessary training or they need another bus to travel on.

Key Ingredient - You

The process of taking three months off starts with the person you see every day in the mirror. That’s you! And, the starting point is to ask yourself the question: ‘are you absolutely, positively, whole-heartedly committed to setting up your business so it can operate without depending on you?’

The second step is to understand that you will have doubts about ‘can this be done?’ Or ‘can this happen for me and my business?’

We certainly had doubts about whether or not we could take three months off without having to run our business by email or by phone, from some distant destination. At one point, my business partner / husband thought of pulling out of the whole deal. But I can honestly say that because my commitment to setting up our business so that we could take three months off never wavered, this was not an option.

Depending on your business, it can take anywhere from 3 to 15 months to set your business up for this challenge. Of course there are exceptions. But, where there is a will, there is a way.

Like I said before your business is only ever a direct reflection of you. Everyone takes their cue from you. If you are the least bit disorganised or lack vision, the business will also be disorganised and lack vision. With that, you will attract to you the same level of people around you. Remember, misery loves company.

But if you are focused, organised and have a vision, your business will have a real buzz and be unstoppable whether you are there in person or not.

Everything else is secondary. Ultimately, the difference between you taking a three-month holiday is nothing to do with anything other than just one thing. Your decision and commitment.

Since the launch of our book ‘How to Grow Your Business by Taking 3 Months Off’ there have been many business owners who challenge this concept and think this is pie in the sky thinking. Not only have we set up our business so that we were able to take three months off, we have guided others to do the same. Now, we have had feedback from our readers who are on their way in setting up their businesses to take three or more months off.

No matter what type or size your business is, it can be structured so it can run without depending on you. And although this is a big ask of most business owners, it can be done. You can do it – go for it!

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