Thinking of taking a business sabbatical? Here’s how to take time off from your business without going crazy, while enjoying life and actually having a business to come back to.
Tune into the episode below:
- Is it a good idea to take a sabbatical in your first year of business?
- The surprising benefits of being away from your business
- How not to feel guilty about taking time off
- The details about my 3-week sabbatical
- How to batch content
- A simple content strategy to help you stay on track while away
- How to clear your schedule if you don’t want anything work-related
- How travel content fits into all this
- Ways to use it to naturally increase engagement and make sales
- How to announce you’ll be away so no one is disappointed or misled
- Other final things to take care of
Maybe you have an option for a sabbatical but weren’t sure if you could do that. Or this episode will inspire you to plan one in the next 2 months or any time later in the year.
July is just around the corner so this is quite timely as most people travel in the next 2 months. I’m heading away for 3 weeks in a few days so what I’m about to share in a bit will also include the exact things I did this month to prepare for the next one when I’ll be away.
I want to show you what is possible, how to plan things, what to prepare in advance and what mindset to have. The goal is no stress, or at least as little stress as possible, and being able to truly let go when you travel, be present with the people you are with and make the most of the beautiful places you’re about to see and the new experiences you’re about to have.
And to make sure that when you’re back, your business is still here, you’re excited about it and motivated to get to work and serve your people, and you don’t need to work extra hours in the next weeks or months to compensate for that time off.
How to Take a Business Sabbatical
1. Let go of the guilt.
I know entrepreneurs, big names in my industry, who only allowed themselves to take real time off many, many years after starting their business. And I mean, they have a multimillion dollar company, a team, all the systems in place, and yet they didn’t leave for a few weeks or months because they thought everything will go in the wrong direction if they are not there.
The main piece of advice they had for everyone when deciding to take that well-deserved time off is to do it even in their first or second year in business.
You might still be in your hustle period, when you’re building the foundation, figuring out how everything works, developing the right mindset. And yet a sabbatical can still work wonders.
Let me share some benefits of being away from your business that you might not have thought of.
Benefits of a business sabbatical
This is one of the best tests to see if what you created is sustainable, how passive it is, how well your team or systems are doing, how much you are micromanaging without realizing, how you feel about your business and even to look at the big picture for the very first time.
Often getting away from something lets you see what’s actually going on.
Maybe during your business sabbatical you will create a whole new vision, you will decide what isn’t giving you the results you want so you’ll plan radical changes to implement when you come back.
Maybe it’s to retire current offers, completely restructure your company, finally outsource, find amazing collaborations, offer more services or products, invest in a course or coach, and so on.
There are so many brilliant realizations you might come to that can only happen when you’re in another country, relaxing, and not behind the laptop or on your phone.
If your income isn’t stable yet and you weren’t sure about it till now, well now you will know. What happens when you’re traveling for a month or two, even if you still answer emails, do some administration and monitor things? Does your income decrease or does it totally disappear?
This isn’t bad at all. It might be the eye-opener you needed to admit to yourself that up until that point, you haven’t created a full-time business, nothing about it is passive or you just relied too much on client work and aren’t happy about it.
So what can you do to turn things around? Maybe it’s time to productize your knowledge by creating an online course and turning it into this amazing high-value offer that your ideal clients can’t resist?
Or maybe it’s time to double your prices, ditch some projects, or learn more about sales and automation.
So if you’re feeling guilty for taking time off, think about those amazing changes that can come as a result of it. This can be the next step to evolving and doing your best work, which ultimately is what will benefit your clients and your current audience the most.
2. Figure out what kind of sabbatical you’re going for.
My second tip for you is to get clear on the details around the business sabbatical and what type it will be.
For example, maybe you want to bring your laptop and do some admin work. Or you will be on your phone and messaging clients, having calls with the team, or just being in touch with your audience on socials and posting often.
If you do want that, great. But if you will disappear from anything, your preparation has to go a bit differently.
The goal here is to not be at the new destination in case you’re traveling and being anxious about all the things you aren’t doing, all the potential opportunities you might be missing out on, all the people you aren’t responding to, and so on.
This isn’t a relaxed state of mind and it’s no real break from work. If you don’t want to touch your laptop or phone, then make sure you have automated and delegated as much as possible and let people know.
Maybe you didn’t take new client projects, haven’t planned any launch for the next weeks, and it’s okay not to post new content on any platform. You can then let your email subscribers and social media followers know that they won’t hear from you for some time but that after your break, you’ll be back with new content and exciting stuff for them.
Or maybe you’ll keep sending your weekly newsletter, will be inspired to post on socials, and will even keep selling your offers. That doesn’t need to take much energy or time if you’ve been doing it for a long time now.
Know how long the trip will be, when it starts and ends and whether you’ll have good Internet connection when you need it. As soon as you know when you’ll travel, let people know.
In my case, I’m heading on a road trip to Spain. I know the day I’ll leave but not the exact day I’ll be back.
Destinations and activities will be decided on the road, and there will be a lot of exploring as well as relaxing on beaches. It’s a part of Spain I’ve never been to, Galicia, which is right above Portugal. It’s not that touristy and it’s a different climate and culture than the rest of Spain and what I’m used to.
Also, I travel from the Netherlands so we’ll drive through France on the way. I’ve never done a road trip before. I usually like to settle in one place when I go somewhere, pick the most touristy place, book a nice hotel right at the center and by the beach, and feel like a local.
But this time it will be different so I’m excited for how this trip will challenge me and help me grow.
3. Batch content.
If you decide that you want to be present online while you’re gone, the next best move you can make is to batch content.
You can write the emails you’re about to send and schedule them, you can create all the social media posts for every week and then post each manually.
You can even do a launch while you’re away but only in case you prepare every little detail in advance. And still, something can go wrong and that will mean you need to show up and fix it unless you have a team for that. So it’s not a good idea if you don’t want any stress and work during your business sabbatical.
If you have a weekly podcast, create a few episodes in advance and post once a week, then talk about that on your newsletter and on socials. That’s sort of the simplest content strategy you can create to stay on track and still provide value to your audience even when you aren’t there. But then it’s also a good idea to be online and engage with their comments, shares and questions about the topic you discussed that week.
Right now, for example, I’m creating content for Bold Business School – my program for course creators that was released for the first time recently and currently the first students are going through the content. As usual, I monetized it before I made it. This is also what I teach in the course. But as I’ll be releasing new modules on certain dates, I want to be prepared.
A road trip is definitely not the place for me to create course content, so I’m doing that in advance. Mostly for the modules that will be released while I’m away as well as the 2 weeks after I come back as I never know how my motivation levels will look like then.
It’s totally okay for me to take a break from the podcast. I do plan to keep posting on Instagram though as I always have so much to say and a post doesn’t take much.
I might share some travel content too as that’s directly related to what I teach. That freedom lifestyle is a result of the business I’ve built and that’s why I’m so devoted to showing you how to do the same.
I also want to keep sending my weekly newsletter. It might not always be on the same day or at the exact time, although that can be scheduled of course, but I do want my subscribers to hear from me at least once a week.
I’m now interviewing business owners and plan to share these articles while I’m away. So there’s still going to be a new exiting piece of content every week, it will just be someone else’s story. It’s been a while since I posted another interview on my blog so I’m excited to get back to that. These can be so inspiring and one story like that is enough to encourage you to finally take action in your business. So if you’re on my email list, stay tuned for that.
4. Clear your schedule.
If you decide to avoid anything work-related during your business sabbatical, then clear your schedule.
For example, I made sure I do any launches and promo campaigns before I leave and have nothing planned for the time I’ll be away. I can still mention my courses on socials when it makes sense and that’s basically selling but the most natural version of it, so I don’t count this as actual promotion. My next big launch is in August or September so there’s time.
If I had something big planned for these few weeks when I’m away, I’d switch things up to clear the schedule then.
But this also comes down to how you’ve structured your whole business. For example, will things get out of control if you don’t empty your inbox every day, if you don’t do client work, or if you don’t show up online?
For me the case is this. Blog sponsorships are still one of my main income streams.
That means new or existing sponsors reach out to me with a new order which often looks like a guest post I publish on my site. All I have to do is open the email, review things and accept the order, get paid (I only accept payments in advance now), publish the article and do a few more things once it’s live to promote it.
That doesn’t take much but is essential to my monthly income. What’s more, I like to do it. So I might open my inbox from my phone often and just scroll through the new emails, and only open my laptop if there’s a sponsor I’d like to collaborate with and who has a new order.
This is usually not urgent either so if I want, I can disappear for weeks too. I don’t like doing that though, I miss my business. It gives me purpose, writing is my jam and I love creating content. I want to keep learning from my mentors and think of new business ideas.
So I might go to a cafe for 2-3 hours every 2-3 days, enjoy a good coffee, good view and some solitude, open my laptop, catch up with things and work on what I feel like.
When I travel and get out of my comfort zone, I’m inspired in new ways. So that means I might come up with an idea for a new offer and have the desire to outline it right away. I can think of new content topics to cover, new ways to show up online, changes I can make in my business that will help me scale, ways to serve my people better, and so on.
So, clear your schedule if necessary. But if not, leave room for spontaneous hours of work here and there, posting on socials when you have something to say, and starting conversations with your beautiful followers.
5. Use your time away to inspire your people.
Seriously, some will be living life through you. Travel content is such a good fit for Instagram for example and can start conversations with people who never reached out before. It also lets you show the world a different aspect of your business, behind the scenes content, get more personal.
Travel content and the reflections you share while on the road are valuable to others. And you can always connect that to what you’re teaching and get back to your usual topics to keep it relevant and even incorporate your offers and share links to them.
A new client can sign up during your business sabbatical, you can make course sales if it’s an evergreen product. Or you can even feel like releasing something new but also quick and easy that will bring in some revenue. In fact, an episode on some ideas for that is coming soon so stay tuned. I’ll share with you a few paid offers you can create this weekend and launch right away.
When you share new content during your travels and are in the energy of excitement, don’t be surprised if your engagement skyrockets. People want to know what you’re doing and who the person behind this Instagram account or blog or email list is. So don’t be afraid to use that chance to show a bit more.
Even simple things like the sunset, the dinner, writing about the conversation you just had with someone or what new business idea you came up with – these can help you form a deeper relationship with your audience.
6. Announce you’ll be on a sabbatical.
Now, I mentioned earlier that it’s a good practice to let people know you’ll be away and for how long. If that’s your audience, it can be as simple as including it in your next newsletter and posting about it on socials.
Team members and important clients you might need to contact personally. You can set up an out of office email autoresponder so any new person contacting you can also know when to expect a response.
If you won’t take on any new clients while away, you might want to remove payment options on sales pages. Also, clear your schedule from live trainings and coaching calls if you have that and in case you don’t want to do it, of course.
These little things can save you a lot of stress and no person from your audience will ever be disappointed or misled.
7. Other final things to take care of.
Look at your calendar and any to-do lists you have to see if you haven’t planned anything during your business sabbatical a long time ago. Maybe you promised someone to speak at their virtual summit, to be an affiliate for a bundle of products that is only released for a few days and which you want to promote actively, or have a brand collaboration.
Either cancel these or stick to them but make them a priority on that day during your time away.
And finally, if you have client work to do then, do it now even if you plan to deliver it during your trip.
Of course, time away might even mean not leaving the city. In that case, all these responsibilities are easier to handle. But when you’re in the middle of nowhere, living life to the fullest and not having good WiFi, these will be the last things on your mind.
So, I think I covered most of what might come up for you during your business sabbatical and how to prepare in advance.
My favorite thing to do is list all the tasks that I have to complete for a certain period of time, get them out of my head and onto a list, and work through them one by one. This lets you see what else you need to take care of and make sure nothing is skipped.
Last but not least, keep in mind that if this is your first business sabbatical, or a break that’s totally different from what you’ve done before, you probably can’t know how you’ll feel or what you’ll get done when away. So leave room for different options.
It’s always best to assume you won’t have time and energy to get real work done there and prepare and schedule the most important things before you leave. Then you have peace of mind, but can still surprise yourself and get a lot more done than what you had in mind.
And don’t forget to enjoy it all. When you’re back, you will teach others how to take epic business sabbaticals like yours and you will have proof you’re indeed creating, or have already created, the business of your dreams.