Struggling to get yourself and you business in order to take that much needed holiday break?
Worried that if you leave your little baby for more than 24 hours (your business that is) that it’s all going to come crashing down around you? Yep, I get it… And with holidays just around the corner and Christmas right upon us, I thought now would be a good time to pen this post…
Just for you…..
So as part of my community of passionate female entrepreneurs, I wanted you to see how I was able to take 4 weeks off laptop free, so you can too!
To cut the stress and the busyness of life and to just relax, while still maintaining your monthly income…
So it all started something like this…..
“ARE YOU SERIOUS?!”
This is how Sarah from Brisbane responded when I told her about my last trip my husband and I were able to take last year…..4 weeks across the US without a computer….
Yep, I said it. 4 weeks without a laptop! (the longest stint in the last 6 years…so yes, I was pretty pumped at the time!).
Reflecting on this just last week with my husband Adam, I knew this story needed to be shared with you as a fellow female entrepreneur…. I wrote this post not only to inspire you (If I can do it, so can you!) but to give you a roadmap to show you what systems and actions I put in place to allow me to achieve this awesome lifestyle moment. The other thing I almost forgot to mention, was that at the time of the holiday I was running 3 digital businesses! The trip was amazing… But the greatest part about the whole thing was my ability to take time out of my business with no change or downfall at all… In fact…
- My business turned over the same revenue and profit as it had the month before
- My clients all still received an exceptional customer experience…without me being in the country
- I didn’t even have to think about the business while I was gone!
Sure my business didn’t see any real growth in this month….but because the way I have set things up all my energy and input is purely on the growth of my business….
Not the day-to-day tasks!
It has developed into an asset that is completely self sufficient without me! So at this point, can I ask you a question?
Is your business set up for a lifestyle?
Are you able to take 4 weeks out of your business without a computer?
For me in my journey as a female entrepreneur, it’s not about earning bucket loads of money… It’s about living where I want to live, resting when I need a break, spending time with friends and family and…
To be honest… just having choices in my life and business!
And I’m guessing if you’re reading this, then its probably pretty important to you too – am I right?
So, before I go into the exact steps that I took to get my businesses set up and ready to spend 4 weeks alone without me, I wanted to give you a quick sneak peak at some of the beautiful places we visited and the route we took off on.
Pretty cool right? Soooooo…… Lets get onto what I like to call my “DOING” approach to laptop free holidays.
These Are The Practical Steps I Took (That You Can Too) In The Lead Up To Our Trip
At this point I want to point out that nice holiday pics are great, but that is not what you are really here for right…. What I want to provide you with is my laptop free holiday blueprint. This is the strategy I used in the 4 weeks leading up to my trip to get my 3 digital businesses in order. What you will learn below is how I prepared so that my businesses kept ticking and the income kept incoming despite my presence – or lack thereof!
Step 1: Set-Up a Marketing Automation Tool
This step is categorically the most important part of being able to create a sustainable and profitable lifestyle business. A business that will allow you to take that 4 week guilt free holiday without your laptop…. Not having your marketing automated with a clever system is the #1 cause for trapping female entrepreneurs in what I like to call “Entrepreneurial Groundhog Day”….. More on Entrepreneurial Groundhog Day in a minute, but trust me, you don’t want to find yourself trapped in this place… 🙁 Ladies, it’s 2016 and the technology that we now have available will ensure your day to day business processes can be primarily automated. So no more excuses….
So for starters you might be wondering what a marketing automation tool is right?
These are the two leading ones available at the moment for small business owners.
- Office Autopilot / Ontraport
These tools differ from straight autoresponders like Mailchimp or Aweber as they combine an intelligent email autoresponder with CRM (Customer Relationship Management) functionality, which is also a must.
If you have been to one of my Doing Days, you know investing time in establishing what marketing automation and CRM system is right for you then implementing it is part of the barrier to entry you create in your market and is integral in setting up your own lifestyle marketing funnel.
It is the thing your competitors aren’t doing….
Master this and it will give you an unfair advantage in any market you decide to enter….. A marketing automation tool if used correctly will take care of things like your day to day client communications, lead nurture, stock control, invoicing and payment processing. I use a system called Infusionsoft in my businesses and have done so for the last 6 years. I chose it because of its advanced small business marketing capabilities, its 24/7 support and the speed at which it is constantly being developed and upgraded. You can tell it is supported by a team of very bright and intelligent people who are passionate about its growth and impact on small business globally.
In my opinion it is the leader in the small business marketing automation space, without rival…. But, I’m also probably slightly biased as I have used it for the past 6 years, have embraced all of its amazing features and have also visited their head office personally in Arizona. Integrating the right marketing automation system in your business will not only give you peace of mind while you are away on holidays, but also save you you money on staffing costs.
Your clients will love you as they will not feel neglected with regular emails and updates, and your business will be able to continue to acquire new customers while your away through intelligent automated lead nurture.
From time to time at my Doing Day events, ladies will ask the question or be concerned that:
“What if I put in place a marketing automation system, will it provide the same level of personalisation and customer experience that a manual email will?”
I get this, and this concern may have been valid 6 or 7 years ago when I first started on this journey….
But with the advancements in technology that we now have at our disposal, this is no longer the case and shouldn’t be a concern.
Take gracelever.com for example….
Each month I am in touch with over 30,000 female entrpreneurs (It would be impossible for me to have a one on one business relatiosnhip with probably anymore than 50 of them at a time).
Based on the positive feeback and emails I receive into my email inbox each week, I am providing each of these female entrepreneurs with an exceptional customer experience.
Most of the time the emails I receive suggest that the majority of my list don’t realise that my emails are being sent from Infusionsoft.
They have been pre-written and inserted into a well crafted customer nurture sequence that continues to provide a consistent and exceptional experience for all those that have engaged with my brand at some point.
Taking time out and letting their email autoresponder do the work for them (so they can enjoy a lifestyle business) is one of the main characteristics that defines the successful female entrepreneurs that I have worked with….
If you currently have a CRM in place in your business or if this post has now motivated you to set one up for yourself, jump over to my free CRM and marketing automation audit, which will pair you with the right system for your unique business. It is easy to complete the survey and is worth doing up front to save you the time and the hassle of testing and investing in multiple systems and tools.
Step 2: Prepare & Schedule Content In Advance
Preparing and scheduling your content in advance allowed me to walk out the front door with the suitcase packed knowing that my community would be well looked after, served and nurtured during my time away.
In the lead up to my trip I took the extra time needed to schedule my weekly blog posts to be dripped out via my wordpress blog.
This is super easy to do and I have some more training on effective blog post scheduling inside the Doing Academy.
Your blog posts can be text, video a combination of both or relevant industry related news worth pieces.
Make sure your email autoresponder is also set-up to continue to engage your community while you are away and also nurture prospects.
In my testing it generally takes at least 8 points of contact for a subscriber on my list to take that first step, raise their hand and become a customer in some way.
If you have identified and established an effective email nurture system in your business for your prospects, you will be surprised at how many new clients you can convert during your time away….all on autopilot.
It really is an awesome feeling coming home to an inbox full of new customers that have converted and have paid you in some form.
Generating this type of passive income is what we all strive for as female entrepreneurs and I can tell you right now it is sooooo possible once you set up the right email nurture, especially before you leave on holidays.
Another big one I also see is letting your customers or community know you will be away with a simple Out of Office notification that is sent when you receive an email.
This is a simple task that you can complete before you leave that will ensure your community doesn’t get frustrated and isn’t waiting around for a response to an email that you won’t receive until you get back.
My final bit of advice is to also schedule your social media posting.
This is really simple to do across the main platforms…..
I personally use Hootsuite to achieve this, but there are a number of tools out there you can use.
This will keep you front of mind and communicating with your customers and prospects while you are away and can be set-up to be 100% automated.
Step 3: Pre-Schedule Monthly Tasks in Basecamp, Preferably Via Reliable Virtual Assistants
Basecamp is an affordable project management tool for small business.
It has been instrumental in streamlining my business processes as well as organising and arranging tasks for my team on a daily basis.
I have both a local and offshore team and I am able to schedule tasks and timelines really easily with basecamp.
It allows both the local and offshore team to communicate accurately, manage tasks and ensures all projects are really well organised and completed on time.
Before leaving on our trip I scheduled in 4 hours to review tasks that needed to be completed in the 4 weeks that I would be away and assigned specific “To-Do’s” to team members that were to be completed while I was away.
Basecamp has a fantastic project management dashboard and its usability is exceptional….
I found that when I first integrated it it was adopted and embraced by all my team members.
Generally it takes time for the team to warm up to a new system and get used to using it, but from day 1 the whole team loved using Basecamp.
When daily “To-Do’s” are completed Basecamp will also notify you by email, so on my return it was easy to quickly review my email to check off all the completed tasks that had been checked off while we were away.
As an additional resource, check out my Basecamp Training here to show you how I am able to stay annoyingly organised with my team, even from the other side of the globe ;-).
Step 4: Notify Your Clients in Advance
This sounds like common sense, but many business owners forget to do this when taking their holidays….
They return home to an inbox full of emails that ooze frustration and a business that is backsliding due to poor customer care and communication…..
This is not what we want!
Anyone can take a holiday and not prepare in advance, but the end result will be dismal.
A simple call or email notifiying clients and customers prior to your departure can make a huge difference….
You are human and deserve time off…
Entrepreneurs can be so bad at doing this and I want your attitude around holidays and taking time out to relax to change NOW if you don’t think it needs to be a priority…
Your customers should appreciate this and will be fine with you taking a break as long as they are given enough warning and are taken care of through strategic pre-planning and automation while you are away.
Before I took off for 4 weeks, all of my customers received a call and an email.
I outlined the extra work that was going to be completed in the lead up to the break as well as how their campaigns (for my digital agency clients) would be maintained while I was away.
Step 5: Make It a Priority to Hire an Intern or Personal Assistant
For my clients that would generally have a direct relationship with me, I assigned an account manager (my personal assistant) to take care of them and answer any questions they had while I was away.
A simple introduction via email was made in the week prior to my departure. I also assigned a full day to review all of my current customers and campaigns with my personal assistant so that she was able to respond when needed.
This investment alone has produced a strong return as she is now able to manage more of my client relationships and provide the same if not a better level of customer care and support.
Taking a break will give you that extra motivation to invest the time to educate and train an internal team member and get them up to speed with customer management.
This 8 hour investment with this staff member has been invaluable and has now allowed me to step up in my business.
It has given me the extra time to focus more on business growth strategies and implementation, rather than day to day client management.
Where to From Here?……….
Holidays absolutely mean the difference between your success and your burn-out…..And not just a day away here and there.
I’m talking a proper break without interruption. Without work-talk. Without being “available”.
I’m talking about a real holiday with your loved ones or alone where you can disconnect and relax.
So my challenge to you…?
Where’s your next holiday? What destination or adventure is on your bucket list? And when are you leaving?
Its no longer good enough to let your business rule your lifestyle.
Its time to embrace a lifestyle business and I’m pretty sure for most of us, this means more LIFESTYLE and less BUSINESS!
If you have made it this far high five for you for watching, reading and sharing this content.
I hope you’ve been inspired and encouraged. And I hope you’re more equipped to embrace your lifestyle business with everything you’ve got!
I’d love to show you how I create profitable, lifestyle businesses one after the other… so that you can too 🙂
So if you’re ready to start getting stuff done…. just click on this link or email me directly at [email protected] and I’ll reserve your seat!