Last week, Michael was on holiday, and I got a phone call from a client (let’s call him James) who wanted to know why Michael was not contactable.
James wanted to know how Michael was able to leave his business “unattended”. The quickest way to answer his question was to show him. I answered all his queries and ensured he had complete confidence in the support he was receiving, just as I’ve been trained to do.
You see, Michael spends around 40% of his time training his team, including me. We all have different responsibilities, but we overlap our knowledge to ensure every customer has multiple points of contact to get answers to their questions when they need them – regardless of holidays or sick days (it happens occasionally).
James was reassured that he was receiving the same level of care, with or without Michael, he went on to say he wished he could do that within his own business. My conversation with James inspired this blog post.
I interviewed Michael about his experience as a business owner and going on holiday, leaving his phone behind and not reading emails. Here’s what he shared …
Why do you think it is important to leave your phone behind when you go on holiday?
Spending time away from the business to properly relax and recharge
Let’s be honest phone = ‘tenterhooks’ and you can’t relax properly. Even the smallest levels of anxiety will prevent you from relaxing. Recharging your batteries is sooo important. To relax, in my opinion, means eliminating anxiousness and tension. When you have achieved this, it is really easy.
I also switch off email and don’t look at them for the whole period.
Spending quality time with family
Business is intense and so am I, when I am working. Luckily, my wife supports this, but when it’s work, it’s work. And play is play. I try to be present at each moment but even more so be ‘All In’ with both. But at the right times.
Lightbulb moments, usually bobbing in the sea
Some of my best ideas have come during these moments, when I’m truly relaxed and present. Complicated strategy decisions when relaxed become clear or ideas that are revolutionary to me come in these moments.
How did you feel the first time you went on holiday without your phone, and left the business to run without you?
There was a range of emotions. Control being one, ‘How could the business run without me?’. Shades of guilt on ‘How can a business owner go on holiday and be successful?’. ‘Will the business operate without my passion?’.
And how do you feel now, going away and not being contactable?
I genuinely relax. I can’t say I don’t wonder what’s happening or have the occasional pang of guilt, but this is minimal. In an emergency the office can reach me – which has been necessary on only two occasions.
What do you think are the main reasons why this has been successful, and the company has become less reliant on you?
Have robust, tested systems that allow you to run your business without you being there. But if systems are not in place, allow your team to make decisions, trust them and allow them to get on with it.
You will never have a system for every eventuality. Trust your team to make decisions using their initiative while following the company’s values. They don’t get it right every time (this is a massive training opportunity) but a lot of the time they blow you away.
What advice would you give to a business owner who wants to be able to have a stress-free family holiday?
Turn off your email, leave your phone in capable hands and relax. One time while away the roof was severely damaged at the building. I gave my manager a way to contact me, but in fairness she had dealt with it as a pro.
So, if you find yourself struggling to switch off from work when you go on holiday, when you should be having some quality time to focus on yourself and your family, why not ask Michael on Facebook your questions and discuss your concerns.
Do you need better systems in place, or need to improve the team? Come and talk to us, and we will show you how this works at MDH and how you could apply the same systems and practices in your business.
You can have a business that runs smoothly, without the walls falling down, while you take the much needed break you deserve.