If you were to have to take a leave of absence from work, how would your business and team do without you? Are you confident in your business operations, in your processes? Would your team run smoothly without you if need be?
In today’s solo episode of the Product Powerhouse Podcast, I’m covering the things you need to have in place in order to set your team and business up for success in your absence. Having these things in place really supported me, my team, my clients, and my business when I was unexpectedly hospitalized earlier this year - and today I’m sharing them with you!
My health journey has taken up a big chunk of my life this year, changing me in so many ways. Specifically, it has shone a light on many things I wasn’t aware of before as a business owner, now affecting the way I structure my business and team operations.
My Experience with Taking Time Off in My Business - Even if It Was Mandatory!
Hopefully, any sabbatical or leave of absence you have to take in your business is intentional and planned. You may not have to have an emergency hospitalization like I did, but I hope you plan on taking a vacation, setting up some PTO or mental health or sick days for yourself - wouldn’t that be amazing?
But what I'm most grateful for is that I had set up some things in my business to be prepared for when these things happen, and you should, too. With the help of my team and my support network, and because of all the systems and processes I had in place in my business, things were able to carry on.
I am so grateful for all the time my leave of absence allowed me. I spent time setting up the very processes and systems I’m about to share with you. I was also able to audit my business operations and identify opportunities to better streamline processes and support gaps.
What to Have in Place to Help Your Business & Team Thrive in Your Absence
No matter what, no matter how large or small your business is, it is wise to have several things in place to streamline your processes, make sure operations are stable, and build a network of support - especially if you have a team. Not only is it wise to do so, but you’re almost certainly asking for trouble if you don’t.
Let’s take a look at some of the things you need to have in place to set your team and business up for success in your absence.
1. Streamlined Systems & Processes for Every Recurring Task
No matter what you and your team do in your business and for your business, you should be following the same steps every time. You and your team should not be recreating the wheel every time you start a project, land a new client, or plan your content.
Here are a few categories you need to be looking at creating systems and processes for:
Fulfillment Protocols. Outline your protocols for shipping and fulfilling orders, custom work processes, customer service situations, ordering materials and internal shipments.
Marketing Workflows. How do you plan, execute and measure your marketing efforts?
Team Communication Processes. Everyone needs to know how and when to communicate with each other. Do you have weekly meetings on Mondays? Voxer check-ins on Fridays? Do you use Slack for project communications or email?
Operational processes. What needs to be done on a recurring basis to make sure your business is healthy and running smoothly?
Leadership processes. Especially if you have a team, you need to be putting these in place. How often do you check-in 1-on-1 with each team member? How often do you meet as a team, and how and when do you put together your agenda for your meetings? If you don’t have a team, you need to be preparing! What books do you have on your leadership reading list? Are you participating in any courses or masterminds? What needs to be done by you to ensure your growth as a leader?
If you don't have a team you can be preparing for this now. One of my favorite resources for growing and building your leadership skills is theJoy to Lead Academy and theJoy to Lead Podcast by Kaylan Thompson.
It’s one thing to have your processes and systems detailed in Asana, ClickUp, or Trello - but it’s another thing entirely to have them detailed in a master document (which you need!). Asana can crash, things can get deleted, things can get added and convoluted and lost. You need to make sure you have a Google Doc where all of your systems and processes are documented. It doesn’t need to be fancy or extensive - just bullet point lists will do! This makes it easier to share with your support network, for an OBM to view and audit at a higher level, and for you and your team to make updates as you grow!
3. A Support Network at the Ready
Create a support network of 3-4 trusted peers. Your partner could be one, or a sibling, to manage things “in real life.” You can also include (and should include) one trusted team member who can step up with leadership in the event you are absent, and choose at least one business friend who can support you, your team and business if need be. Make sure you have their numbers and your partner or in-person support contact has their numbers. If you ever need to be absent without notice and you are unable to contact anyone, your in-person support contact should know exactly who to call and what to say!
4. Communication Protocols
Your team members should know who to contact and when for what issues. What would constitute an emergency call on your cell phone? What issues can wait until you’re back? What does the communication ladder look like? (For example, if a team member has an issue, who do they contact for help? And at what point does that person contact your support network, and at what point does that person bring it to you?)
Now, hopefully you never HAVE to use any of these things. I hope you GET to use them. I hope you have them in place so that your vacation to Tahiti is just like a walk on the beach. These are important things to have in place if you want to take a vacation, a sabbatical, sick days, mental health days, or just plain ol’ time off (you don’t need a reason!)