As an entrepreneur, you are responsible for your own time off for the holidays. Want to shut down between Christmas and New Years? In theory you can, but many of us have a hard time actually taking a break because of massive #FOMO:
Shouldn’t I be blogging?
What if a client needs me?
I don’t want to miss a sales opportunity.
Strong boundaries around our time actually help our business — and great systems help us stick with those boundaries. Let’s get some systems set up so that you can enjoy the holidays a little more.
Taking a break from email is a fabulous start to actually feeling like you had a break. And when you don’t check email, you don’t get caught in the “OMG, she really needs help! I’ll do this now” trap or the “I can respond to this really quickly” cycle. To feel more confident tuning out your email messages, use an autoresponder.
A simple message like, “My office is closed from 12/24 – 1/2 for the holidays,” lets people know you aren’t working. Key information to include:
- When you will respond
- Resources if they need quicker assistance (This could be a referral to a trusted service provider who isn’t on vacation, links to resources for common issues)
- If you’re willing to hear from clients with “can’t wait” issues, you may choose to give them a different way to get in touch (texting, Basecamp). Note: you get to decide if you are in contact at all and, if you are, if the issue warrants immediate attention.
If you haven’t set up an autoresponder yet, go do it now. In gmail, you can set your start and end dates, so you can set it and forget it.
Social Media Autoresponders
I try my best to contact new businesses through e-mail, but sometimes when they don’t have an easy way to contact them on their website — or even worse, they don’t have a website at all, eeek! — I resort to sending a Facebook message to their business page.
I’ve also had people contact ME this way, and somehow missed the notification (oh no!), so I set up an autoresponders for my Facebook business page to prevent any mix-ups.
Follow these steps to turn on Instant Replies for your Page:
- Click Settings at the top of your Page
- Choose Messaging in the left column
- Under Response Assistant, click to select Yes next to Send Instant Replies to anyone who messages your Page
- To change your instant reply message, click Change, update the message and click Save
Confession: Instead of just using it during the holidays, I leave my instant reply up year round. Here’s what mine says: “Hi [name], thanks for contacting Casebolt Creative. To maximize time with clients, I rarely check messenger. The best way to reach me is through my website: www.caseboltcreative.com/contact. Thanks, I look forward to hearing from you soon!”
Now you can stay out of your inbox and off social media for the holidays. Don’t use business as an excuse to check in.
Schedule Now, Meet Later
But what if an amazing new client wants to get in touch with me and I miss them?
I used to jump through hoops for my new clients to show them how responsive I can be … but over time, I’ve found that by having strong boundaries, my business has actually grown. People respect me more and value my time and work more when I’m not available at a moment’s notice. So, I have super simple system for you.
- Set up an online scheduling tool
I’ve used Calendly & ScheduleOnce before, but now I use and love Acuity Scheduling. It’s simple to set up with multiple appointment types, it easily syncing with your calendar to make double-booking impossible, it takes payments through Paypal and Stripe, it includes intake questionnaires, and it can be embedded into your website … for only $10/mo.
- Create a short appointment slot (15-20 minutes) and create a basic intake form
- Set up a link to your scheduler on your Work with Me or Contact Page
- Use your e-mail and/or autoresponder to encourage people to connect: I’m out of the office through the end of the year, but let’s set up a time to talk in January. You can choose a time here. [Link to scheduler]
Now here’s the real tip: Don’t open up every available time slot on your calendar the week you get back. Again, not being available All.The.Time isn’t a bad thing. Be realistic about other obligations and give yourself some re-entry time so that you can provide great service to current and potential clients.
Let Them Pay While You Play
I’m not going to lie and tell you that you can lie on a beach for a month and make six figures (and anyone who tells you that is full of it and you should run the other way). But, I will say that getting a message that I just got paid while I’m at a holiday party or standing in line trying to buy Christmas presents makes me do a happy dance.
Just because your office is closed doesn’t mean that people can’t buy from you. Any place you have a “Buy Now” button (even if the button technically has a different CTA like “Count me in” or “Give me instant access”) is an opportunity for people to pay you while you are out.
Other payment notifications may come from clients if you use PayPal or bank transfers. However payment comes in, you get a little thrill when that notification pops up (though if you’re staying out of your inbox, you might not see it right away — I have the Paypal & Stripe apps on my phone so I get a little “ka-ching” sound every time a payment gets made).