The rock stood about 25 feet above the water hovering over Phelps Lake in the Grand Teton National Park. The water was cold and clear. You could see the bottom of the lake giving the illusion that it was far too shallow to jump. Having watched a number of others take the plunge, my kids and I decided to give it a go while Ashley agreed to be the videographer from lake level.
The temperature of the water was matched by the exhilaration of the jump. It was cold and it was thrilling.
Throughout the hike into and out of Phelps Lake, we enjoyed elevation changes, landscape changes, spectacular views, and 10 different bear sightings, some within about 10 to 15 yards.
I can honestly say, throughout the hike, I did not worry about our business. It was freeing.
For context, at the time of this hike, Business On Purpose has been liberating business owners from chaos for 6 ½ years (founded in 2015). We have a team of seven people (including me), two of which are part-time.
A couple of things you should know…we are not a multi-million dollar business, as the owner, I am still very much involved in day to day coaching of clients, and I am not independently wealthy.
So how was I able to take a solid week away from our business, and the business actually grow and thrive and execute on our mission to liberate business owners from chaos?
First, I wrote (and continually update) our vision story.
The Proverb is continually true, “Where there is no vision, people scatter.” This documented exchange between a Jewish prophet is also true, “write the vision down…those who read it will run…wait till it’s appointed time…it will come true.”
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Every business owner that we serve has been taken through a vision story process. This is a written, multi-page, highly detailed layout of what they see as the future of their business personally, financially, corporately (team structure and size), culturally, and clearly laying out who they serve and who they do not serve.
This is a clear picture, and one written by faith (because we cannot see it yet), to help bring clarity to what we see not only for ourselves but also for our team.
Every two months we host a simple online call with our entire team called a “Vision Day”. It’s not really a full day, but one hour where I read fully through the vision story, provide some commentary on where I see our business and host a live Q&A so our entire team has an opportunity to interact with our vision.
It is exciting to see that the vision story process is being morphed from a nice-to-have document to a must-have, living, visual of the future of each business.
If you want to take time away from your business, you must have written clarity on the future of your business, and your team must have access to the same clarity.
Second, I planned this trip (and all of our others) about 9 months ago.
Time is a non-renewable resource. I mentioned earlier that our business has been liberating business owners from chaos for 6 ½ years. Those are 6 ½ years that are in the books…no way to get those back.
We believe that we can find time to do the things in our business that matter most. The reality is that we will not randomly find one of life’s hottest, and non-renewable commodities (time). Instead, we must actively make or craft the time that we have in front of us.
In November of each year, I sit down with a calendar for the following year and I begin to make my schedule for the year. Much of your week is repetitious. Meetings, email, phone calls, making or creating, etc.
Many will say, “well my week is so unpredictable”.
It feels unpredictable because we have not made the time to stop and think through the weeks we’ve been given and how we will invest the currency of our time within each week.
When I began thinking through the days, weeks, months, quarters, and entire year it provided me with a sense of stability. My schedule became an anchored dock moored within consistently choppy waters.
No way that I hold to that schedule 100% of the time…but even a 50% hold rate is a massive game changer and gives me the freedom to do the thing that I have scheduled and have remembered to communicate precisely because it has been prescheduled!
Whatever time of year it is right now for you, make time to sit down with a calendar of the next 6 or 12 months and begin to mark out some blocked times for team gatherings, vision days, milestone events needed to push your mission, and of course, your time away from the business.
Just a note, your team, and your business need to see you leave from time to time. When you leave it provides them the encouragement that they can lead the business without you. It literally lends them the courage to lead.
When you leave it also exposes parts of the business that are too dependent on you, that you can begin processing, and delegating upon your return.
Third, I spent the weeks leading up to our trip communicating with our team and with clients.
Something bazaar happens when you pre-schedule anything…it becomes gospel. Not religious gospel, but an immovable reality that has been calendared.
It gives you the confidence to simply say with plenty of warning, “team, we will be out on the third week of May.” The team will simply respond, “got it”.
Of course, if you are typically not away from your business, both you and the team may feel an uncomfortable nervousness, but it provides time to begin planning and to delegate all of the things that you normally do, that others can take over while you are out.
You begin communicating your time away weeks prior to leaving both with your team, and based on your business, with your customers and/or vendor partners.
In our business, I send a weekly communication to each client, so about three weeks prior to my time away, I go ahead and write my communication to each client for the week that I will be away and then use the powerful “delay send” feature on my email app.
I set up the email to send out the Monday that I am away as if nothing has changed.
Our weekly team meeting, and also our weekly individual one-on-one check-ins are also times that I share with our team a reminder that I’ll be away and see if they need anything in preparation.
Of course, it will not be perfect, but at least it will be well communicated.
Fourth, I left trusting that the groundwork was laid.
We consistently work on culture ingredients like our weekly team meeting, weekly coaches, meeting, our 12-week plan, and live events, our every other monthly vision days, our annual training retreat, and our Master Process Roadmap.
I must trust that the team will continue to lean in on those culture ingredients as much when I am not here as they do when I am here.
It is an exciting thing to be away as an owner, and not only is the team surviving, they are taking ownership in growing the business.
You will never know if you do not leave your small business for a short season.
You will never leave your small business for a season if you do not write a vision.
You will never write a vision if you do not make the time for it.
You will never make the time for it if you do not have a plan to communicate.
You will never communicate if you do not lay the groundwork.
Your business and your team need you to leave periodically. YOU need yourself to leave periodically, stand on top of a rock and take the plunge into a cold, deep mountain lake and be grateful.
Scott Beebe is the founder of Business On Purpose, author of Let Your Business Burn: Stop Putting Out Fires, Discover Purpose, And Build A Business That Matters. Scott also hosts The Business On Purpose Podcast and can be found at mybusinessonpurpose.com.