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Boomer Consulting

Take Time From Your Firm and Not Lose Your Mind

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Over the years, Dawn Brolin, CPA, CITP, CFE has learned how to give herself perission to take a break from her firm and a number of best practices that help me feel less stressed before, during, and after she's out of the office. As Team Brolin is getting ready to leave the office for Conference Season, he shares some tips so that you can make the most of your next conference or vacation with your sanity and your firm’s income streams intact.

Jun 14th 2022
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It’s prime conference season--and for many of us, it’s vacation season, too. As exciting and energizing as it is to attend a professional conference or a new destination, it can also be anxiety-inducing for those of us who run our own firms.

Just getting your workload and personal life under control enough to leave your practice may be a true feat. Then add on top of this the trepidation about not being at your desk, not creating revenue, and the unknown client and workflow issues that could come up, and it's a lot to manage!

1. Start by allowing yourself to take a break. As a business owner it’s easy to feel like you always have to be hustling to keep the wheels turning. While there’s definitely a need to be cognizant of your cash flow, and professional development is also supremely important, not to mention your general well-being.

You deserve, and need, to have away from work. Accept it. Enjoy it. You’ll be more productive in the long run.

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2. Give yourself enough time to prepare. The best way to feel focused and at ease while you are at a conference is to clear the deck as much as possible at your office and at home before you go.

I suggest preparing to be gone as soon as you know the dates you are targeting. Workback from the date and start arranging for assistance with administrative functions, housecleaning, and if you need it, childcare and pet sitting!

3. Set expectations with your team and your clients. Keep in mind, if you don’t set the rules ahead of time, your staff and your clients don’t know how to work with you while you are away.

If you only want to be contacted if it’s an absolute emergency, then be clear about that. Put a plan in place for how your clients will be served when you are gone and how you will interface with any team members you have, as well as your family. (i.e. Is it a blackout period or can you field questions or even do some work while you are not physically in the office?). Set your boundaries and stick to them.

4. Leverage your tech stack for maximum freedom. This tip can be applied in a number of ways. First, think of the big picture before you go anywhere. You should be building a tech stack and ecosystem that allows you to automate as much as possible for maximum efficiency and profitability as an everyday operational priority.

For me, this includes everything from automating bookkeeping data entry with Bookkeep and prescheduling payments plus leveraging as much other technology as possible to keep all of the automated tasks running efficiently while I am gone. Of course, don’t forget an out of office response to let clients and vendors know you are out and you’ll get back to them as soon as you can..

5. Stay on top of your post-conference or vacation to-dos.  Just as you plan ahead for your departure, it’s just as important to have a system in place for managing workflow proactively for when you return. There’s nothing more stressful than continually thinking about all of the work piling up when you are gone, plus it distracts you from being able to be present during your time away, so you end up missing out on either education and/or relaxation which is completely counterproductive.

Instead, inventory the client projects you’ll need to attend to as soon as you get back plus all of the meetings and phone calls you need to make so you have a firm handle on what needs to happen when you get back to your routine.  I also recommend doing the same for your domestic and family obligations so you aren’t blindsided by an urgent need for an oil change or a child’s school project as soon as you get home.

6. Proactively prepare for your re-entry into the real world. As an addendum to the previous point, I have found it extremely helpful to allow myself a little extra time and enlist extra help to ease back into my regular life after being away. For me, this might mean not booking meetings or declining other obligations immediately after I arrive home.

I also make sure to have my house cleaned (by someone else) and some easy meals available so I don’t have to fret over a deluge of domestic chores awaiting me. By giving myself some breathing room to get situated again, I feel so much more calm and productive.

It’s time to take your well-deserved break this summer. I used to feel my stress level rising at the thought of leaving my firm for any length of time. Then, I changed my mindset.

Instead of thinking about leaving my firm (and my home) as a negative, I decided to reassess and reframe it as a positive. Immersing myself at a conference in educational, social, and motivational activities has more positive impact on my firm than me sitting at my desk 24/7 feeling burned out and resentful that I cannot get a break to regroup and reimagine my business or my personal goals.

The same is true for you, so make a plan to spend at least a little time away from your firm this summer and do it guilt-free so you can maintain your motivation and your go-getter spirit! I hope to see you at an upcoming conference!

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