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Vacation Your Way to Success

September 15, 2009
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If you are a business owner in the United States, chances are you are stressed out. When you first entered the business world as an owner, the idea of being your own boss and working the hours you wanted to work seemed so appealing along with not having to answer to anyone.

Stress was something employees went through because the boss was a jerk. What happened? When I have asked carpet cleaning company owners to rate their stress level from 1 to 10, the average score is 7 to 8.

The title probably got your attention, and you may be thinking I am either nuts or really onto something great. Let’s hope it is the latter.

How can you vacation your way to success?

Leonardo da Vinci got more done in his lifetime that most can even dream about and he was a strong proponent of taking time off. He knew the benefit of recharging one’s batteries. In my carpet-cleaning business I have always taken many weeks off every year.

My vacation plan for my employees is very liberal. After 6 months they receive a week paid vacation. After 1 year, 2 weeks; after 2 years, 3 weeks; after 5 years, 4 weeks; after 7 years, 5 weeks and after 12 years, 6 weeks. Consequently, my employees have time to refresh themselves, come back to work rested and know that if they leave, they will never get the vacation time like they do at my business.

Do three to 20 activities a day outside your comfort zone. This is crucial. You do not build your business by spinning your wheels, checking your email or looking at the bank account. By doing those activities that are outside the comfort zone, you grow your business.

Do the planning, marketing, cold calling, systematizing, etc. that you tend to put off and get on with your life. If you daily do these uncomfortable activities, you will have a more successful business and each day can be a vacation because you accomplished what you know you needed to and your brain can relax a bit and enjoy the rest of the day. You can have some guilt-free leisure time with your spouse, kids or off by yourself.

Work each day as if tomorrow you were going on vacation. Remember how you got so much done the day before you went on vacation because you had no choice, the tasks had to be completed. Why not work every day like that and finish what needs to be done by 1 or 2 pm and vacation the rest of the day?

Write out your daily task list and with discipline get the list done. By the way, did you know that when you accomplish a task, your brain emits endorphins into your blood stream and you receive a natural high? You can actually get naturally hooked on this process and become a task-completing junkie. It’s the disciplined people that are successful; why not become one and begin to do the things in life you really want to?

One-truck operators can vacation, too. When I was a one-truck operator, I always had a backup because I wanted to be able to take time off.

A friend of mine had a pressure washing business and I trained him to be a carpet-cleaning technician. When I went on vacation, I would give him 50% of the sales that he generated. My idea was to keep my regular customers happy and make sure that I didn’t lose any. He always loved it when I vacationed because a 50% commission was quite lucrative for him.

The system worked great and even when I had the one truck, I took at least four weeks off every year.

Have good people working for you. This is a must for a variety of reasons but essential for your ability to vacation frequently. The benefits from this are rather obvious and hopefully your people will come to love it when you are gone because it gives them the opportunity to prove themselves.

Sales contests and bonuses can add to the excitement generated when the boss is out of town. Better yet, strive to have great employees working for you rather than just good ones.

Make the decision that you are going to take time off this next year. Get out your planner and write in it the vacation time you want to take. Then begin the daily process of disciplining yourself to accomplish meaningful activities and begin to enjoy your life again.

Let that time off keep you and your employees refreshed and alert and even more productive and successful. In the meantime, you will get your life back and your business can grow and flourish.    

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