February 10th, 2020 David Finkel (Taxloopholes.com Advisor)
Another day at the office is about to come to an end. You may have answered hundreds of emails, put out a few “fires” and hopefully made some progress on your quarterly action plan. Tomorrow, you plan to do much of the same.
But I challenge you to take the day off. Throw caution to the wind, and go to a museum or have lunch with a friend. As a business coach for over 25 years, I can tell you that it can be worth it.
For many of you, the thought of an unplanned day off may result in an unsettling feeling in your gut. A thousand different scenarios probably run through your head, and most of them result in your business failing miserably in 24 hours or less. You may start to list all the reasons why you can’t take tomorrow off: You haven’t had time to prepare your assistant or your staff. You aren’t sure who’s been properly trained. The list goes on and on.
But here are six reasons why I advise throwing caution to the wind and playing hooky tomorrow.
Taking the day off can allow you to test your systems and culture and see how much your staff can accomplish when you’re not around. As a business owner, you may think that hiring strong team members is all you need to do to create a strong business foundation. You hire smart and competent people, train them well and then let them do their jobs. But for many of us, that isn’t always enough. You will inevitably have employee turnover within your business, and if you lose a key team member, your business can feel it for months and even years to come. That’s why I’ve always encouraged my coaching clients to build up the other areas of their companies, specifically their systems and culture. If you build a solid foundation in these areas in addition to hiring the right people, you’re much more likely to weather losing a key employee, or your own absence. You may not realize how often your employees turn to you for advice or guidance on a daily basis. When you’re away, you can get a true view of how the business runs on its own.
That feeling you just felt in your gut when I told you to take a day off is probably your inability to let go. Owner-reliant businesses often have owners who feel like they have to micromanage every little thing within their business. I know it can be hard, but try to let other team members own areas of responsibility within the business. One of the best ways to learn to let go and show your team that you trust them is regularly stepping away from the business.
Another reason to take the day off is to test your business’s strategic depth. The term “strategic depth” has military origins and usually denotes the distance between the front lines and the area’s main centers of gravity. I use it to refer to a company’s ability to run and thrive without the owner’s day-to-day help. It also has to do with training your employees and understanding what tasks within the business rely on you to be present. While you’re away, do your employees have the authority to make major decisions? Handle payroll? Launch a new product? The more they can do without you, the more strategic depth your business has.
As an entrepreneur, you may have the overwhelming desire to control every little thing within your business. You may believe that no one can handle payroll, hiring or sales and marketing without your input. But trying to keep tabs on every little thing within your business can wreak havoc on your mental health and really limit your ability to see the bigger picture. In addition to helping you learn to let go, taking the day off can give you the chance to breathe, reflect on where you’re going and plan for the future.
Does your team rely on you to put out the day-to-day fires and make all the decisions? Test their strengths and weaknesses by turning your cellphone off for the day and seeing who steps up and fills in when needed. If your business has enough strategic depth, you may be surprised by how much they can tackle in your absence. Taking the day off can give your staff a chance to test their own skills and give them the confidence needed to excel. Having team members who can complete assigned tasks is one thing, but having team members with the confidence to readily take on tasks without being asked is something different.
I’ve talked in great detail in the past about systems and controls and how they can transform your business. But there’s always room for improvement. When you take the day off, pay attention to what falls through the cracks in your absence. Perhaps your assistant wasn’t sure how to handle a certain email request or your operations team struggled with completing payroll. These are the areas where you may need to create more systems and controls.
I encourage each and every one of you to take tomorrow off. Turn off your cellphone, leave your laptop at the office and give your business a chance to shine without you.