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- iHaveNet.com: Small Business Guide
Real Small Business
You can alleviate the stress and panic that can accompany pre-vacation planning by creating a list of tasks and issues that need to be managed when you're not there, then checking off each item as it's handled. This systematic planning enables you to leave for vacation with a clear conscience and get some well-deserved R&R.
At the very minimum, you'll need someone in your organization to cover for you while you're out. If you have no employees, a professional colleague can stand in as backup support for client or customer emergencies.
Review some of the key planning points that will ensure a problem-free vacation:
Make a project list
Do a complete inventory of recently completed projects, current work, and upcoming assignments.
For each item on your list create another list of all possible issues that could arise while you are away. Plan for each of these developments. Be sure not to overlook recently completed projects. Work that you have "put to bed" can often generate client or customer inquiries in the weeks following.
Do worst-case planning
Come up with a list of possible scenarios on current projects and brief internal staff or colleagues.
A little bit of Murphy's Law planning can prepare everyone for the things that will undoubtedly go wrong. What are the chief concerns for each client? What's the worst thing that can happen with each account? This kind of planning means that clients will be speaking with someone who understands their concerns should a problem arise. For example, your notes on a particular project might say, "If Mrs. Green calls, her concerns are likely to be about x and y. The last time we completed a project like this we had difficulty in the following areas."
Brief key clients or customers
Don't let your lengthy absence come as a surprise to clients.
Give them some notice about your absence -- a minimum of two to three weeks, preferably longer. Let them know how long you'll be away, who they should contact in your absence, how they can contact this person (phone and fax numbers, and email address), and what how this person will be able to help them. Communicate your confidence in the ability of staff or a stand-in to help them should a problem arise. If they're dealing with someone new in your organization, arrange for both parties to speak before you go away. It's important that your clients feel comfortable with the arrangements you've made.
Plan for all incoming communications
Make sure you're prepared to handle your voicemail, email, and incoming faxes.
If someone else in your office is handling your workload, put their extension or phone number in your outgoing message so your callers will be able to reach a real person who can respond to their needs. If you aren't referring callers to someone else, script a reassuring message that lets clients know when you will return and how they can get what they need in the meantime.
Check with your ISP to see if they offer Auto Respond, a service that sends an automatic reply to anyone who emails while you're away. Like your voicemail, your reply message should indicate how long you'll be out of the office, and who people can contact if their message requires immediate attention. If you don't have this option, be sure to have someone check your mailbox regularly and deal with any messages that need a direct response.
Have someone in your office collect, read, and traffic faxes so that no pressing issues slip through the cracks. You may want to have someone in your office forward your faxes to a local fax number so you can collect them yourself while you're away.
Replenish supplies and petty cash
If you'll be leaving staff or co-workers behind, make sure they have enough office supplies to continue working in your absence. Check the petty cash supply and make sure it's adequate, or leave a signed check for that purpose.
Pay bills, sign checks
Check the due date on your regular payments for rent, utilities, supplies and so forth.
If you don't want to pay them ahead of time, write out the checks and entrust someone with the job of mailing them on the appropriate dates. Don't let accounts become past due just because you've gone on vacation.
Leave emergency contact information
Make sure those people still in the office won't be stranded if they run into technical or maintenance problems in your absence.
What happens if a drain backs up or the boiler blows? Leave the phone number of your building's electrician, plumber, and other maintenance people. Don't forget about your computers or phone network. Make sure there's contact information for those repair people or consultants as well.
Double-check the little things
Don't forget about housekeeping and security measures.
Write down all the chores you take care of in your office without even thinking about it. Are you the person who routinely pulls the shades in the late afternoon to keep the equipment from overheating? Are you the one who puts toilet paper in the employee's rest room? Think of all those small jobs and make sure they get done while you're gone. If you're the one who closes up at night, make sure someone else knows the procedure for securing the building.
Small Business Guide
- Starting Up Your Business
- Coming Up With a Winning Business Idea
- Common Startup Mistakes
- The New Rules for Startups
- Business Incubator FAQs
- Naming Your Business
- Researching Your Business
- Your Personal Savings
- Registration, Licenses, and Permits
- Getting a Tax ID Number
- Fast-Growth Startup Resources
- Structuring Your Business
- Overview: Corporations
- State Offices of Incorporation
- Incorporate Out of State?
- Writing a Partnership Agreement
- Choosing a Board of Directors
- Basics of a C Corporation
- Basics of an S Corporation
- Basics of an LLC
- Basics of a Sole Proprietorship
- Basics of a Non-Profit Corporation
- Basics of a Professional Corporation
- Basics of a General Partnership
- Basics of a Limited Partnership
- Your Company's Public Relations
- Elements of a Successful Public Relations Campaign
- How to Use Your Press Coverage Effectively
- Press Releases
- How to Write a Successful Press Release
- Sample Product/Service Press Release
- Sample Commentary Press Release
- Sample Event Press Release
- Sample Tips Press Release
- Sample Personnel Press Release
- Effective Competitive Analysis
- Managing Purchasing to Maximize Cash Flow
- Top Six Pricing Mistakes Businesses Make
- How to Avoid Lowering Your Prices
- Bidding Basics
- Hiring Staff
- Creating an Effective Job Description
- Do You Know How to Pick Them?
- Little-Known Hiring Resources
- Classifying Contract Workers
- Tips for Successful Interviewing
- What You Can't Ask in a Job Interview
- New Hire Paperwork
- Small Business Insurance
- Types of Insurance for Small Businesses
- Small Business Insurance FAQs
- Insurance Resources for Small Businesses
- Home Office Insurance: Myths & Realities
- Small Business Resources
- Government Resources for Small Business on the Web
- Resources for Women Entrepreneurs
- Fast-Growth Startup Resources
- Small Business Security Resources
- Taking Time Off
- Your Pre-Vacation Checklist
- How to Take a Vacation
- Learning to Delegate
- Getting Away When You Can't Get Away
- Preparing for Tax Season
- Year-End Planning Tax Savers
- 10 Ways to Pay Less in Tax
- 25 Common Business Deductions and Expenses
- Avoid These Common Errors and Audit Triggers
- Understanding the Home Office Deduction
- Corporate Income Taxes Primer
- Employment Taxes Primer
- Sales Tax Primer
- Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships Tax Primer
- How to Get a Filing Extension
- Year-End Reconciliation
- Getting the Most from Your Accountant
- Developing Accurate Financial Projections
- Cash Flow
- 10 Ways to Help Increase Your Cash Flow
- Cash vs Accrual Accounting
- Bookkeeping and Record Keeping Basics
- Quick Ways to Get Through a Cash Crunch
- Projecting Cash Flow
- Cash Flow Triage
- Getting Funding
- Cash Flow Through Factoring
- Small Business Investment Corporations (SBIC)
- Traditional Funding Sources
- Non-Traditional Funding Sources
- Your Company's Credit
- How to Read a Business Credit Report
- Credit Terms Glossary for Your Small Business
- How to Protect and Improve Your Business Credit Rating
- Give Your Business the Financing Edge
- Employee Compensation
- Employee Benefits
- Bonuses: How To Be Fair
- Workers' Compensation Q&A
- Keeping Workers' Compensation Costs Down
- Payroll Management Choices
- Key Elements of Payroll
- Working with a Payroll Service Provider
- How to Create a Business Plan
Starting Your Own Business - Pre-Vacation Checklist
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