Recently, I took nearly a full month off from my business as my family (of one pregnant wife, two toddlers and two Golden Retrievers) moved into our new home and sold our old house.
If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ve seen some of the progress and updates 🙂
This led me to reflect on the past 4 weeks and put together some lessons I learned from this period. Some things I did pretty well and recommend for you as well and of course, some things that I would do differently.
I hope these 7 practical tips help you out the next time you go on vacation or prepare for an extended amount of time off from your biz!
In this episode:
00:00 – Introduction
03:34 – 1) Organizing email
06:38 – 2) Team communication
11:39 – 3) Client communication
13:57 – 4) Account for time
17:06 – 5) Feeling disconnected
19:16 – 6) Schedule intentionally
22:28 – 7) Recurring income
23:40 – Coach and mentor
26:04 – Recap
Featured links mentioned:
Episode #196 Full Transcription
Hello, friends, welcome into the podcast. This is episode 196. And this one is just me here with you. I wanted to do an episode that is just kind of a casual chat, and I wanted to share some thoughts and lessons learned off of what I’ve learned recently in taking nearly a whole month off from my business. So for those of you who follow me on social media, I’m currently most active on Instagram, you can hit me up over there at Josh hall.co/instagram. If you want to connect with me and follow me there. I’m also on Facebook, that Instagram account also feeds into my Facebook. But I’ve been posting quite a bit over the past month about my family and I having just moved into our new home.
So we have been building for over a year to this point in the middle of May 2022, we finally got to move into our new house. And it was I don’t even know what to call it. It was much more than a process. It was a journey. It was a test of patience and perseverance, and all the things because not only did we move into our new house and get settled, but we’re doing this also while raising two little toddlers. And my wife is in the middle of our pregnancy with our third baby a little boy coming this fall. And we have two golden retrievers. And on top of all that, we also after moving into our new house, got our old house ready to sell and to get on the market as soon as we could after we close our new house.
So it has been a absolute wild few weeks all that to say, I knew I was going to take some time off my business, I did not know that I was going to take almost a full month off for the most part. And I’ve learned a lot. So I’ve reflected on everything I’ve learned over the past four weeks or so. And I tried to put some of the top tips that I’ve learned through this period. And some things I feel like I did pretty well and I was pretty well set up for but there’s also quite a few things I would have done a little bit differently.
So I want to share them with you here in this episode. And I think it’s going to help you no matter if you are in a situation like I am that you’re going to need maybe a full month off from your business. Or even if you’re just preparing for a vacation, or you’re taking a little trip or you just need some r&r and you just need a little bit of time off from your business, I think all these tips are really going to help.
So I’ve got kind of seven keys seven tips I want to cover that I’ve learned from the season. And again, it was It was wild. Now, I do want to say I have not been 100% off every week for four weeks of my business. So I have not like disappear from the face of the earth. Like I mentioned, I’d have still been fairly active on social media. I was intentionally active still in my web design Club, which is my coaching community where people are paying monthly to be there.
So while I did take one week off completely, like absolute no email, no nothing for one week, during the actual moving process. On the other weeks, I have still popped into my web design club still done a little bit of coaching, occasional q&a. But that’s it. I haven’t done any interviews, I have not done any big coaching calls, or really anything or any content creation through this entire season. These last four weeks because it’s just been so chaotic. And it’s taken definitely a little bit longer than I thought to which is also going to come into play here as I’ve getting more settled into it.
So first off, let’s kick off with point number one here, one of seven. The first thing I learned and taking this time off for my business. Oh, what I meant to say the reason I mentioned that I’ve taken this time off is because again, I have worked sporadically, but when I say I’ve been working for the past couple of weeks, at least after we got moved in, I’d say I probably only realistically worked five to 10 hours a week at most, at most. So I have pretty much taken the most time off from my business that I ever had before in my life.
Generally, I’ve only ever taken a week, or maybe two weeks off for vacation. So an entire month I learned a lot. The first thing I learned is that it is amazing how much email, you don’t realize that you do, at least for me personally, I’m on top of my email. And it’s one reason most people hate email. But I actually like it because I’ve just, I’ve got my own ways of systematizing and organizing it and doing it in batches that I can cook through it.
And I’m also really fortunate that I have set up my lines of communication in place to where I don’t get that many emails. But I say all that to say, with even just taking one complete full week off with no email. I am amazed at how much email actually do and I think you’ll find the same thing if you haven’t already. It’s amazing how much email and messaging you do on a day to day basis and you don’t even realize it.
Because sometimes you feel like I haven’t really done that much today or I haven’t done that. May I look at the app Hello, and I haven’t really done that much. But if you just don’t do your normal lines of communication for even just a few days, you will be amazed at how much work you’re actually doing that you didn’t realize. So that was the first big thing I learned is I need to give myself more credit for doing way more email and admin work than I need to, I think the same will be true for you.
But it also told me something that, in order for me to focus on some of the big picture, things that I have planned and things that I want to do and the next evolution of my business here, and to serve you better, quite honestly, I need to get out of my email. So this is my first public statement, saying that the next phase of my business is to get me out of my inbox.
Now, it doesn’t mean that if you email me, I’m never going to respond, it just means that I’m going to be getting help, kind of organizing and categorizing all the emails that come through to me. And this actually comes from my business coach, James Schramko, when I had him on the podcast back way back in episode 101 101, where he said, why he basically coached me and said live, why don’t you just have your VA take care of the email and just have a folder that is for Josh to review.
And I’m sorry, James, if you’re listening to this, it’s taken me this long to finally implement this. But that is the next big thing I’m going to be working on is basically funneling email to me and getting some help with stuff that maybe I don’t need to get to or can be answered in a more automated way. So that might be something you might want to consider is maybe your email needs to not just be you but have some sort of funneling or VA, that helps kind of funnel the messages that way, you only answer the ones personally that you absolutely need to to help save you time.
So that’s the first big thing i i learned in this and that kind of feeds into number two here, which is very clear lines of communication. Now, these lines of communication will be for generally both your customers and your team. So for me, I have a very small team Kam is my VA who does all my podcast, podcast transcriptions and distribution, and does all the timestamps and outlines and does a lot of admin work for me through my web design club and, and some email stuff. So she does the bulk of time for me and doing all that.
Nathan, my editor of the podcast, which we have a really nice automated system with my podcast that eventually all I’ll share with the world. And then Christian, my lead developer who does a lot of development work for me, month to month and some support work now, those that’s basically my team.
So what I realized though, is the amount of communication I’m doing with them, sometimes differs, like I found myself sometimes messaging or emailing all of them. And typically, most teams are going to be in Slack or something. And it reaffirmed to me that I need to make sure I let my team know exactly how to communicate with me, particularly in a time off from business. So for example, if you use email to talk with your team, which most people aren’t doing, I still do it quite a bit just because I’m in control of my email.
But if you are using email with your team, and you don’t want to be checking your email while you’re on vacation, you need to have a different line of support and a different line for communication. So, for example, with this complete week off that I took off, and then a lot of the time, I had Christian via text messages on standby that way, if there was any question he had, that was urgent, he could just text me. Same thing for my my VA Kam. And Nathan has my editor, he has my cell phone that way, if they needed to message me for any reason, I told them text me, I’m not going to be checking my email this week. So just sent me a text.
So that was something I learned from the team side of thing have a very clear line of communication. And most importantly, let them know that, hey, I’m taking some time off, it’s gonna be a little bit different if you need me, or if I have anything urgent, I need to send you heads up on my text you or vice versa, you can text me. So that was the big thing I learned with the team side of things.
Now, the other side is customers. So like I said, we covered a lot of this with email, but you have got to make sure. And I’m talking to myself here that you have very solid lines of communication for customers, because you’re going to have new leads and new customers or new potential customers. And then you’re going to have current customers. And that’s what I have. I have people who ask questions about courses and content, and those are going to be potential customers.
But then I have customer support. I support my students. Sometimes they email me, I try to get them all into my student center, which is my support center. And then of course, my web design Club is a whole different ballgame because people know to message me there. It’s our own private lines of communication. But then you’re also going to have like random people reach out like now I get a lot of requests about podcasts for interviews. And so I have like a few different types of out bound type of people reaching out. So generally that all funnels to my email, except for current students, which I try to go in my students center.
But what I learned in that is that you have gotta have a support line that is dedicated, and whether it’s your email or whether you’re using like HelpScout or something else. It depending on how many calls I assume you have this may change. But I’m definitely learning that I’m at the point in my business now where I need to have a dedicated line for support and questions versus just rent, you know, general inquiries and interview stuff like that.
So luckily, I went pretty well, I have to say and and I’m just being open and sharing what I’ve learned in the past month or so with this would take a lot of time off. But I feel like it actually went pretty well. Fortunately, I don’t get too many support questions, because I’m not a like products type of service. If I had like a plugin or something than 100%, I would have had a support line from day one. But I’ll get to me like tech problems or issues.
But I say that to say I did have Christian on standby, who had access to my email for that in him and Kam manage my email while I was away for a week, a full week, and then on the other time, to where they can assist in helping me with support. If it was technical support went to Christian, if it was more admin support or questions, then Kam took care of it, or just a texted me and I was able to give them a quick response.
So that’s kind of what I learned in the lines of communication for for both customers and team to make sure you have all that setup. So whatever that looks like for you keep it simple at first, but then start to categorize your lines of communication that eventually maybe open up a support system that’s dedicated. And then with your team, make sure they know where to contact you. Do they email you is it via slack, is it via text, is it via a different platform, a different system, make sure you have that in place, it’s kind of one thing that’s the next evolution for me to with the team is to have an absolute dedicated team line. That way we know where we message each other and talk to each other.
Now, number three, one thing that I just mentioned from the team perspective is to let your team know that you’re going to be taking time off and let them know what to expect. Same is true for your customers. Now, you don’t need to, I guess how open you want to be is up to you. But definitely, definitely let your customers know that you’re gonna be off a little bit or you’re taking a trip. And I think not only does this just make it more real and more personal, and it shows that you have light work life balance, but it also helps your support.
So one reason we didn’t get inundated with support, and a whole bunch of questions is because I was very open, like I said earlier on social media about taking some time off getting settled into the new house. And people were really respectful of that a lot of people didn’t even reach out or they said, Hey, I got a couple of questions. But I’ll give it a few weeks, and I’ll reach out to you. Or in some cases, I look back through my email. And I got a lot of people saying, Hey, I know you’re moving no rush on this. But I did have a question, can you or the team helped me out.
So I got so many like respectful requests and emails from people who particularly were active with me on social media, who knew about what was going on. And it really, really helps. Now, sometimes you don’t want to necessarily let like all of your clients know I’m not working for a month, I definitely wouldn’t advise that. But if you are going to have like a full week off, don’t be shy about letting them know there’s there is no shame in that game as they say whoever they is. But it really helped me and honestly did.
I noticed that emails overall, were still down even though I realized like, wow, I didn’t realize how many emails I didn’t really get to, I still realize that it helped me in the amount of responses I got to people being so respectful and apologetic for reaching out even people who like were students and wanted to upgrade to my bundle, I had quite a few bundle upgrades over this time. And they were like, Hey, I don’t mean to be a bother. I know you’re moving. But I’d like to upgrade to the bundle. So in that case, I wanted to get them taken care of as soon as possible.
But yeah, it was really interesting. I’m actually really glad that I got personal and shared about this experience because it actually literally helped my inbox. So be open about your time off with definitely your team. But also your customers do there’s there’s nothing wrong with that. And I found that people are people, they’re going to respect that.
Now number four, one big thing that I have learned over the over the years as an entrepreneur is that you need to account not only for the week or weeks that you’re going to be off, but the weeks before and after that. Now with vacation. I’m sure you’ve experienced this where the week before vacation is like terrible because you are hustling to get everything out the door as quick as possible. So you can actually take time off.
But then what happens a lot of times we don’t account for the week after and when we get back and settled in that becomes like hell week because suddenly you are you don’t realize how much work you do on a normal week to week basis. And then you’re completely backed up. And it seems like the week after vacation just completely drains you from your time off that you just had.
So you have to account for the week before in the week after a trip. Whatever that trip or vacation is a week or two weeks or however long it is you’ve got to account for that. Now, there’s the practical accounting for that like the amount of inbox Like the amount of messages you’re gonna get, or whatever that looks like, or project management, like making sure you get stuff done before and after an account for that. But then there’s also a mental side. And this is, this is kind of interesting that I found here. And that is that before a trip, you’re likely going to be mentally preparing for the trip. And then the week after the trip, you’re going to be kind of out of work mode. So I feel like I’ve learned mentally it takes a little while to get back into it.
Do you feel that too? Do you feel like after a week of being on vacation, you get back and like, I thought I’d feel all refreshed and ready to you know, hit the ground running, but I don’t I don’t feel like that at all. I feel like I, I’m just not with it yet. I think it’s really common. At least a lot of people I’ve talked to feel that. So if you feel that you are definitely not alone, it’s certainly what I have felt. And I’m feeling that right now. Like this is my first week back, we’re in the middle of June right now.
And this is my first week, like full week, kind of back at it. And I definitely don’t feel like 100% on I have like little segments where I feel good. But on the whole, I am just not normally you know where I am. But I kind of just went through a couple hell weeks, quite frankly, with moving with toddlers and my poor pregnant wife and everything else going on. I mean, it was probably more work than I’ve ever done outside of actually, you know, web design work. So I’m freaking exhausted, quite honestly.
So naturally, I’m not going to be mentally as sharp as I would right now getting right back to it. And I think that can happen a lot of times, particularly for those of you who are family folk, and you take your kids for vacation, you know, as well as I do. That doesn’t mean vacation with kids is going to be relaxing by any means. In fact, it’s probably going to be the opposite of relaxing, but it can still be fun. But anyway, you have to account for the week before and the week after. And then just remember mentally, I just want to say it’s okay to feel not on when you get back.
You’ll you’ll get back into the game I know. And I’m talking to myself here. I know, this is my week to get back into the groove. And then probably next week is when I’ll get back into my flow states and feel really good about this. So very, very common.
This also leads me to point number five, which is something I I’ve, this is kind of new for me, I have to be completely honest. And that is feeling out of the game. And I think this is normal when you take some time off. But like I said earlier, this is the longest period of time that I’ve taken off from my business. Now I took one complete full week off, I took basically two weeks as a whole where I was like, you know, 95% off. And then I got into a little more last week where I worked about 10 hours or so. So I’m kind of getting back into it.
But it has showed me how fast web design changes and how much how many things happen like today, at the time of recording this Internet Explorer is just officially dead for Microsoft are not supporting it anymore. And I feel like wow, I didn’t even like I missed that memo because I haven’t been keeping up to anything. Over the past month during this these past four weeks, WordPress 6.0 came out. So I was like, Well, I’m not updating my site. I am moving right now. I think that was literally the day we moved that WordPress 6.0 came out.
So I say all that to say there was a lot of things that happened over the past month. And I feel a little bit out of the game. Like I got a little bit nervous doing some Q and A’s for my club. And I did one for my students. Because I was like, I hope there wasn’t anything that I missed. Because I haven’t been in I haven’t been looking at my forums like usual or I haven’t been seeing the news or what my colleagues are saying. So I feel a little bit out of the game. And it’s only been a month. So I can’t imagine how people feel they’re like Anna WebAssign for a year. But it’s normal.
And luckily, I’m already feeling like right back in, settled into the mix doesn’t take that long and get caught up on stuff. And people will tell you the big things that happen. It’s just like news, right? Like, I think some people watch the news every hour every day and you feel like you can’t take a break. Whereas I’ve kind of learned as I got older, I’ll get caught up in what the heck’s going on. Every day, something’s going on. If you want to take a month off, just do it and you’ll get caught up, it’s fine. That’s the least that’s what I’m telling myself and what I’ve felt. But anyway, if you feel like you take a break and you feel like you’re just out of the game completely, I think it’s very normal, and you are not alone. So I’m kind of going through that right now. But feeling pretty good as I get back into.
Number six here. This kind of goes back to point number four where you account for the week before and the week after. And that is that you need to schedule projects or events very intentionally before and after. Now what I did to help with cashflow, this will come into my final point here is that I did a big webinar in the beginning of May May 4 Star Wars days when that started. I did a three day webinar workshop on getting clients some of you may have gone through that. I intentionally did that about two weeks before we moved because I knew I was gonna do that event. And then that event had an offer to join my business course which is where that webinar now resides.
So if you watch that Workshop and you’re like, Man, I missed the replays, but you’re a part of my business course, which anyone can join at Josh hall.co/business. That’s where that is now. But anyway, I intentionally gave myself two weeks to do that before I before we started moving because I knew I was gonna need some time off here. And it was it was going to be a biggie. So in some ways, I felt like I did good, like I gave instead up, because I almost did it the week before we moved. And I was like, wait a minute, I know that I’m going to be doing emails, I’m gonna be meeting questions. I don’t want that to interfere with packing and getting our house ready. So I did it two weeks before that regard, I think I did a good job.
However, what I did not account for as much as that I probably should have given myself three weeks before at least because even during the week of the move, I noticed, as I look back on my email, because I wasn’t on email that week, I had got a lot of questions about the replays for that workshop. That was the one thing where I was like, Man, I should have gave myself like one more week for that big event. Now, I did make a lot of sales and got a lot of people into the business course, which helped with cash flow. But I think I would have given myself one more week, like a good three weeks between doing an event, and then letting it run its course and then having two solid weeks of like, hey, final call watch replays, make sure you join the course.
Because that definitely bled into my off time, which luckily, I had some help on. But yeah, definitely something I would have done a little further. Now. One thing I am glad I did is that I did not schedule anything for the few weeks after getting settled in. So as of right now, at the time of recording this, I have no workshop plan or big webinar or anything like that, I have learned to get settled in first, and then plan something.
Now in some cases, if you’re doing projects, like if you’re finishing a website, you can still plan that. But just remember the week after a trip or a vacation, you’re going to need some time to get settled in. So I recommend not doing any launches, or starting or doing big things, the week or two before and the week or two after, I would just try to kind of schedule those out in space and stagger those. So you can work around that and make sure you’re you know, you’re feeling good, and you’re in the flow state to be able to get that stuff done.
So just a couple things that I learned, as far as scheduling projects and events before and after. Again, some things I feel like I did a pretty good job on but definitely had more messages and emails and support stuff bleed in to the off time than I expected. So I’m gonna get myself have weak buffer moving forward on anything like that.
And then the final thing that this all led to is one big realization that I’ve learned years ago and it really, really came to fruition for me during this time, and that is recurring income is key. If you want to take a month off of your business, the only way you’re going to be able to do it unless for some reason, you just have been able to close off a bunch of projects. And yet, maybe you landed a big one and got a down payment or was able to finish a few big projects. And then you can take a solid month off before you even start the next round. You need to have recurring income.
Now for web designers, you probably know I talked about this at least every other podcast. Rebuilding recurring income through your website hosting and maintenance plan is key. It’s why I have my flagship course on that, which is my website maintenance plan course, that is what I’m super big on helping you deal. So if you are not yet building recurring income through hosting and maintenance, it’s not too late to start. And I’ll teach you in that course. How to get your previous clients signed up start paying you monthly. So that’s open right now for you If interested, we’ll have that link in the show notes for this episode at Josh hall.co/ 196.
But anyway, my business now as a coach and as a mentor, is my recurring income through my coaching community, my web design club. Now, like I mentioned, I intentionally did a big launch. I did that webinars last launch for my business course in the beginning of May, which helped with some cashflow. Unfortunately, with all the content that I’ve created over the years, it helps bring in course sales steadily. But quite honestly, the big factor for me being able to go a month and barely work at all and still have good cash flow coming in was the recurring income that I have through my membership, my web design club.
And so first of all, if you’re a member there, thank you for being a member, it’s my honor to serve you and to coach you. And that is what essentially helped my family through that entire month off of business is the amount of recurring income that I’ve been able to build through that web design club. Now, like I said earlier, I still showed up there. I wasn’t spending as much time as I usually do in all the threads and forums that we have inside my web design club. But anyone that messaged me, I did try to get back within 48 hours. And I was still doing a weekly call there except for one full week that I was off.
So I still showed up. It’s not like everyone was paying and I was doing nothing during that time. If you want to take time off of your business completely, you could still do knew that I think people like I could have told my web design club guys, I need a month off. And I guarantee everyone in there would have been totally understanding. And they would have kept on paying for the web design club, even though I wasn’t there for a month, because luckily, it’s not just me, it’s a community.
But I say that to say, if you do get in a situation where you want to take a month off, and people are paying the monthly, either let them know and still make sure there’s, you know, whatever they’re paying for is being taken care of, or hire it out. Like if you’re doing updates on your website maintenance plan, I teach you in the course, how to just have somebody else take care of the updates and do the reporting. That way you can take a month off.
So I just wanted to wrap this up by saying the recurring income. This is a practical example of how important it is to have recurring income in your business. hosting your website. maintenance plans are the key for web designers. There’s all sorts of other retainer services you can add with SEO, copywriting content of the design, etc. But your core your foundation is going to be hosting and maintenance. You got to build that recurring income if you’re gonna be able to do what I was fortunate to do this last month, and take a lot of time off.
So yeah, there you go. There you go. Guys, those are just some thoughts I wanted to share. I thought again, this would be a 10 minute episode shocker, we’re gonna probably hit a half an hour. But let me recap real quick. Number one, you have no idea how much messaging and email you do until you don’t do it for a week. Number two, on that regard, get those lines of communication. Very squared away intentionally for both your customers and your team and your support.
Three, be open, be open about your time off with both your team and your customers for make sure you account for that week before and the week after a trip. Definitely mentally to number five. If you feel out of the game. Don’t worry, join the club. It’s normal. I’m going through it right now. Number six, scheduled big projects, launches or events well before, even the week before you get ready to leave or the week after because you’re going to need more time than you think to get wrapped up and get going. And that will help with cash flow and then seven make sure you build that recurring income.
So there you go. Those are some things I learned in taking this month off for my business. Thank you guys for for being me on with one more time. Thank you for being with me. On this episode. I hope you found some value from this so you can prepare for your next time off your business. And hit me up. Like I mentioned, I’m most active now on Instagram. I’m really enjoying my Insta time. So hit me up at Josh hall.co/instagram Send me a DM Why don’t you and let me know if this helped. And let me know if you have any takeaways of your own from taking some time off. And I’ll see you guys on the next episode.
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Now my maintenance plan is right on target. Not only has it paid for itself but it pays for itself each and every month. It was the perfect investment for my business. Thank you Josh for putting this together and teaching it in a way that anyone could follow!"