Who Is Running the Shop?

When I was a child I had an uncle who loved to tell jokes. I still remember many of them to this day. One he told me has become much more relevant, and in a way less of a joke and more of a life lesson since I started my own business.

Here is the joke:

An old shopkeeper lays on his death bed, in a croaky voice he asks if his wife is in the room, she says she is. He rests for a few moments then asks if his eldest son is in the room. His son says that he is. The old man rests again, then asks if his youngest son is in the room. The youngest son says that he is right here. Again the old man rests and then asks if his daughter is in the room. She tells him that yes she is right here next to him. The old man sits bolt upright in the bed and exclaims “Well, who is running the shop then?!”

As a small business owner I’m sure this resonates on many levels. If you are a solo-preneur I am sure it resonates even more loudly. While not thinking about dying, but just thinking about things like vacation and other time off, do we, as entrepreneurs, think we are immune to the need for rest? Can we really give our best if we are not recharging occasionally?

How do we tell our clients we will be unavailable for a few days or even a week while we take a vacation? Do we get the chance to disconnect from email, phone calls and the other demands of clients? We might be on vacation, but they certainly aren’t and they expect a level of service from us that means we have to keep an eye on the shop the whole time.

Having a trusted partner or employee who can filter the usual from the unusual is definitely one way of at least cutting down on the clutter. I also suggest a virtual assistant as an alternative if you are a solo-preneur; build it into the cost of your vacation. The return on the investment will be huge if you are actually able to unwind, recharge and come back to your business and your clients re-energized.

How do you manage time off in your business, what steps do you take to ensure you get the opportunity to recharge?

Image credit: Remuslizrd

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Simon Salt
Simon is CEO of IncSlingers, and is an author, blogger, writer and entrepreneur. His book on Social Location Marketing was published by QUE, a division of Pearson publications in February 2011. Simon has been published online by Mashable, Read Write Web and others.


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  1. Work life balance is definitely something you have to make a priority or it can destroy you. I have found that it is especially difficult as you are transitioning from a full time job to a small business owner. Time and time again as I try to move to build my business it puts demands on my full time job as well as my family. I can’t stop working full time yet because there are bills to pay, I can’t grow my business enough without more time and effort, and the only thing that looks like it can be cut is that “life” side of the equation. A VA can help some and I am hoping will help be enough of a “force modifier” that can push me past the “can’t quit my job yet” problem…

    You can push things for a few weeks or months, but if you are constantly hurting your life with your work, you are looking for burn out.

  2. Right on! You need to have time to relax and unwind to be able to function like a well-oiled machine. Even electric fans need rewinding after some time!

    That said, having a virtual assistant can take work off your hands for a few days so you can have a little vacation.

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