As a business owner I’m always reluctant to take time off away from my business. While I know that my employees are well trained and can perform their jobs without me looking over their shoulder I’m still uncomfortable leaving them in charge of day-to-day operations for an extended period of time. It’s not that I don’t trust them, well maybe it is partially, but mainly it is because I’ve heard plenty of horror stories of an owner taking a vacation to relieve stress only to come back to work and relies that his trusted employees couldn’t really be trusted without some supervision. It is a case of when the cat’s away that the mice will play.
It has always been difficult for small business owners to get away from their business. The most acknowledged reason is that business owners just can’t let go because they are afraid something will happen requiring expertise that only they possesses. This is followed by the lack of organization depth, where there is really no other supervisor other than the owner, which small companies must all deal with. So there is the lingering fear that when the cats away the mice will play.
How does a small business owner deal with this dilemma and get the much needed reprieve from the stresses of owning a business? Over the years I’ve personally employed many different strategies to create a level of comfort for myself prior to taking a trip. For some time I would enlist the aid of a relative or friend to keep a casual watch on the business by placing calls to the business during the day or dropping by at key hours such as the start of the business day, directly after
lunch or just prior to closing time. While this strategy did work it created an inconvenience for the person I’d asked. When I finally started feeling guilty about asking friends and family for help I started to hire a temporary supervisor to “baby sit” the business while I was away. This was only moderately successful as the employees resented the intrusion of a temporary person. It was after I realized this that I got the idea of designating a lead person from my staff to be supervisor for the time I was away. With each trip I’d taker there would be a different individual selected to “be in charge”. The staff seemed to be empowered by this and gained a better appreciation for me in my role as boss. Today, I’m fortunate that my business has grown enough that I now have a supervisor in charge of operations. While I do have difficulty letting go it is easier since I know that my company is resilient enough to withstand any disruptions that occur while I’m gone. Even the mice playing.