Like most things, planning creates the most desirable outcome with the least downside.
Step One: Choose the Right Boss
"It's my business. Ain't I the boss?"
The boss is whoever makes the final call about what gets done, by whom, when, and how.
"I'm the expert. I decide what gets done, and how I do it. "
Do you decide when?
One of the two most common mistakes I see small business owners make is letting the client decide the deadline for a project.
First, can we talk about the word 'deadline'?
'Deadline' means what it says: cross that line, something dies. If that's true, it is indeed a deadline.
A deal goes away. A project fails. Loss replaces profit.
Nothing dies? Not a deadline. What you have is a goal date. Death is nonnegotiable. Goal dates, however desirable, are always, to some degree, adjustable.
Any 'emergency' a prospect brings you is their need, not yours. They're where they are for one of two reasons: circumstances or poor planning. If it's the latter, don't work with them. The former? Negotiate. Sure, you want to help. But don't let their emergency, however unavoidable its source, become your emergency. If you can agree on a goal date you feel is reasonable, super.
If not, it is not your problem.
Not your problem.
You might even be able to add value by helping them sort out a solution to their scheduling challenge. And when you can offer even more than a harried prospect expects, guess what that makes you?
Step Two: Communicate
If you're working with the right clients, most of the time a simple heads-up will suffice. ("The right clients" will be a future post. )
Your clients can live without you for a week, even two, if it's arranged in advance. If you provide a critical service, you have a backup system in place, right? Use it.
This idea terrifies you, doesn't it?
"What if they realize they don't need me?"
If taking a vacation convinces a client they don't need you, they were the wrong client. (I'll get to that, I promise. )
"What if there's an emergency?"
Fair question. Your clients should always be able to contact someone in an emergency. And the right client even knows what actually constitutes an emergency.
If you provide an online service, it's often possible to address the issue from wherever you are. Yes, it's a disruption, but one hiccup is better than never taking a vacation.
If you provide an on-site service, you need a backup. It's not optional. You cannot be on call 24/7/365. If that's what's preventing your vacation, fix it. (Ask me how. )
If you communicate with your clients in advance and address emergencies when they do arise, they'll be glad to work with you to give you the time off you need to recharge.
My wife tells all new clients that she doesn't work weekends, ever, and that her weekend starts Thursday night. When one of them emails on a Friday, they always start with "I know you won't see this till Monday, but . . . "
They also know they can email her "assistant" (her son works with us) or text her directly in case of emergency, and then, emergencies are handled promptly. In a lotta years, it has never been a problem. Not once.