Prepare Your Business For The Holidays

How to Prepare Your Business for the Holidays as a VA

One often overlooked aspect of being a virtual assistant is how to prepare your business for the holidays. This is an important topic to discuss (and for you to think about), because sooner or later you are probably going to want to take some time off.

Maybe you’ll want to take a few days off for the holidays, or it could be for some other type of vacation…but, trust me, the time will come when you need to (and probably should!) step away from your business for a few days.

But how do you actually go about doing that?

When I first got started, I didn’t take off any time for the first six months. I worked right through the holidays, pretty much 24/7, without stopping to relax for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s. That was a personal decision I made, since I was still so new in my business, and I don’t regret it.

But now that I’ve been in business for over a year…I need some time off! This year around the holidays, I chose to take a whole two weeks off.

Like I mentioned, about six months into my business, I ended up having to take some time off. Back in June, I got married and went on a honeymoon with my new husband to Mexico. While all of this was happening, I obviously needed to take some time off (and was firmly instructed to do so by said new husband!).

Altogether, I took three weeks off: the week leading up to the wedding, and then the two following weeks while we were on our honeymoon. It was a full three weeks, because I purposefully added a couple extra “vacation days” before and after the wedding/honeymoon to leave some buffer room.

Allowing for those extra days made sure that I would have enough time off to have it all work out. And I’m really glad that I took the full three weeks off, because I really needed it.

Sometimes you can get so caught up in work that you don’t realize how destructive you’re being to your body. It’s only until you’re actually on vacation and relaxing that you realize how much you really needed it.

Download the FREE Holiday Checklist

Get your business ready for the holidays with this comprehensive checklist!

How to Prepare Your Business for the Holidays as a VA

Let Your Clients Know Far in Advance

It states in my contract that if I want to take vacation time off, I need to give my clients 4 weeks notice before I go away.

I added this clause to my contract both so that clients would realize that, yes, I am actually allowed to take some time off. And also because I think four weeks is pretty generous, and it makes them feel good that they have some extra time to get ready for me to not be there.

Even if you are just trying to prepare your business for the holidays, not an actual vacation, it’s still nice to give clients a heads-up that you won’t be answering emails on, for example, Christmas Day, or New Year’s Eve. Some clients will expect you to be available 24/7, so you need to lay down the law, even when it comes to national holidays.

Agree to Do Some Work, But Not All

As a virtual assistant, it’s common that you are running the small day-to-day details of a person’s business. If you are How to Prepare Your Business for the Holidays as a Virtual Assistant // The VA Collectiveworking with a very busy client or they don’t have certain workflows in place, it can be extremely difficult for them to manage without you there, depending on what you do for them.

For my clients, I don’t do too much of email management or that kind of thing, but I do take on a lot of social media and content creation. When it comes to those types of things, I always agree to schedule them out in advance for when I will be away.

For example, all social media posts are written and scheduled out ahead of time. This means that they will run smoothly and effortlessly while I am away.

Going the extra step for those types of tasks when you are working to prepare your business for the holidays makes clients feel a lot more comfortable about you taking time off, and they will be much less likely to get upset about the whole thing.

Your Vacation Isn’t an “Off” Switch

As you prepare your business for the holidays, realize that not all clients will take your time off as a hard and fast rule.

When I took time off for my wedding, I told all my clients weeks and weeks in advance, yet still I had clients emailing, expecting me to finish tons of last-minute things before I left and even while I was already on vacation.

It took a full four days from the time my vacation time officially started to actually stop working. So many clients were emailing with last-minute requests, and it was way more difficult than anticipated to wrap some of my projects up. Those few extra days of vacation time were such a blessing.

The same thing happened when I was getting ready to come back from vacation — clients were emailing a day or two ahead of time, like “Are you back yet? I need you!”

So it’s good to make sure that your working hours don’t immediately resume the second you get home from a trip. You’ll probably want at least an extra day or two to recharge and get ready to be in work mode again.

Download the FREE Holiday Checklist

Get your business ready for the holidays with this comprehensive checklist!

Transitioning into Relaxation

When I took my vacation in June, one thing I really wasn’t expecting was how long it took me to actually get into “vacation mode.” Even by the time we got to Mexico, it was still a huge transition. It took me two or three days after we got to the resort to stop thinking about work and stressing about clients 24/7.

I have one of those brains that is just really hard to shut up. So if you are like that, too…just know that sometimes it can be difficult to tell your mind and body that it’s time to relax and enjoy some peace and quiet for a change.

As you prepare your business for the holidays, it’s important to know that you probably won’t be able to flip a switch and be “on vacation” the second you are supposed to be.

There’s a transition time for both your clients and yourself.

Rely on Your Team

For those of you just getting started, this might not apply, but going on a vacation is a good time to consider hiring a subcontractor.

Maybe there’s someone who isn’t celebrating Christmas (or celebrates a different holiday), and you can take them on, even if it’s just part-time, during the holidays or while you are on vacation.

It’s amazing to have a team because you know you can rely on them to do your work while you’re on vacation. If there’s an emergency email, they can handle it or let you know. And they can take care of those recurring tasks, like social media scheduling, that I mentioned earlier.

If having a team isn’t in your cards yet, you should be very firm with your clients. Give them the appropriate notice and don’t let them take advantage of you. Let them know that they can send you materials and directions in advance so that you can complete projects ahead of time before you leave. Just be careful not to take on too much!

Handling Client Requests During Vacation Time

While I was on vacation I did still receive a couple of emails from clients. It can be a good idea to come up with some sort of compromise, like if they email you with the subject line “URGENT,” you’ll try to get back to them within 48 hours. Unless you are going somewhere strange, you’ll probably have some access to your email to be able to respond to inquiries like that.

This is just a nice extra touch to add because you want your clients to feel like, even if something bad happens, they can still get in touch with you if absolutely necessary.

This is especially important if you do a lot of stuff like website maintenance for your clients. Nobody is going to be happy if someone’s site goes down for two weeks just because you aren’t checking your email.

As you prepare your business for the holidays, it’s also a good idea to set up an autoresponder for those not-too-important emails you might get from clients or acquaintances while you’re away. Include the dates of when your holiday begins and ends so they’ll know when to expect to hear back from you.

Download the FREE Holiday Checklist

Get your business ready for the holidays with this comprehensive checklist!

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