When I met people who worked for themselves, I often wondered why and how they started a business, and whether I could ever do what they were doing. I wasn’t sure I'd enjoy managing inventory, training employees, dealing with payroll, taking care of taxes, and doing customer service.
Despite these misgivings, I decided to plunge into self-employment and muddle my way through starting a business and making a living doing what I loved.
Struggling With Self-Employed Work-Life Balance
After a while, it felt like there just wasn’t enough time to do everything. My business is based online, and I’m constantly creating content, answering emails, troubleshooting technical problems, and managing other issues that come up.
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Running your own business just seems like a brazen and crazy way to make a living. The day-to-day process is exhilarating, scary, and exciting. It is also really tiring.
When I began thinking about a vacation, it brought its own set of problems.
Vacation Tips From Other Freelancers
I decided to connect with other business owners to see how they manage to take a vacation. Do they ever take time off to recharge their batteries or do they just run themselves ragged?
I found that different business owners have very different approaches to vacation time.
Holly Porter Johnson, owner of the website Club Thrifty, says that, “When we go on vacation, I do most of my work ahead. Most of the time, this means spending a few hours per week frontloading my work so I can take a few days or a week off at a time. I still need to answer emails while I’m on vacation, but doing most of my work ahead of time saves me from slaving away when I’m supposed to be relaxing with my family.”
Christine Odle, owner of Odle Electric, an electrical contracting business, has an unusual approach to taking vacations. She and her husband take their clients along with them.
“In our line of work, we meet amazing people and end up being friends,” Odle says. “Some of our clients we’ve had for over 20 years, so it’s not so strange that we’d have common interests and want to spend nonworking time together. We’ve actually traveled the world with one very long-standing client.”
Alexandria Windcaller, owner of Response Training Programs, LLC, jokes that, “It had to be the self-employed who coined the term ‘paycation.’ It is not a secret that when that phone rings — no matter how many folks you have holding the helm back home — you answer. And still, after more years than I care to mention, I love it!”
My Take on Vacation Time for the Self-Employed
There is no way I would take clients on vacation with me, though. This year, I spent a lot of time doing tons of work before departure so that I could actually enjoy my vacation.
However, I didn’t take into account that I would continue to worry about my business while on vacation. I would check in from time to time to troubleshoot any problems that might have cropped up.
Ultimately, business owners must individually decide the best way to manage their vacations so that they can rest and not run themselves into the ground.