🎙️Show Notes for Episode 069 - Taking Vacation as an Independent ConsultantJul 06, 2022
But being the boss is also one of the downsides of running your own business. Even though you can set your own work schedule, it’s not always easy to take vacation time. Taking a vacation as an independent consulting business owner requires planning and forethought, but it’s possible. And, not only is it possible – it is important for your physical and mental health and your consulting business’ success.
It can be a challenging shift from being an employee with paid vacation to being an independent consulting business owner whose vacation time is unpaid.
In this episode, I share the 3-part formula for taking vacation as an IC business owner without worrying about leaving money on the table. I want to make sure you follow through with taking time off, and that you don’t defer it like I see so many consultants doing.
- [00:31] The importance of taking vacation as an IC business owner
- [03:51] Planning ahead when taking vacation as an IC business owner
- [09:57] How to create your vacation enablers
- Set up a reserve fund in your IC business
- Incorporate vacation time into your business plan
- [14:16] Shift your mindset from status quo into CEO quality thinking
- [18:33] Episode recap
- [19:57] Check out the IC Business Predictability Assessment: https://www.ic-scorecard.com
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE —
- Check out the IC Business Predictability Assessment: https://www.ic-scorecard.com
- Episode 067 - The Bottom-Up Business Plan for Independent Consultants - https://www.melisaliberman.com/blog/67
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- Take the IC Business Plan Assessment: https://www.icbizeval.com
- Check out my YouTube Podcast Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUrsHqeAFDkcI8Kqc4QssEQ
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**note: This is an automated transcript, so please ignore spelling errors and grammar mistakes*
Welcome to Episode 69 of the podcast. Today we're diving into the topic of taking vacation as an independent consultant, this can be a really tricky shift from being an employee who has a paid vacation to being an independent consultant and giving yourself permission to take a vacation. And I want to share with you today, the formula to take a vacation without, you know, feeling like you're leaving money on the table or, and setting yourself up for success to take a vacation, and now consistently defer it like I see so many consultants doing. So that is our focus today is part one of two on a vacation series, which is really, really timely as the time that I'm recording this right now is the end of June. And we're in full swing in terms of summer vacation. So that is our topic for today. And as I mentioned, you know, we're at the end of June right now, as I'm recording this. And so that means that we're already in the middle of the summer, and we're also in the middle of our year. And this is a perfect time to take a step back and look at the way we're planning and executing our business. And to make sure that we're not setting ourselves up to burn out that we're creating a business that's sustainable, and that we love operating and that we don't feel, you know, kept tied to that we can't leave or we can't take time off, because we're worried about the financial side of it. So that's really what I see right now a lot of hesitation by consultants to take time off. And I want to share with you today how what a big mistake that is as a business owner and help you with all of the prerequisites that you need to put in place in order to feel confident in taking time off and enjoying your vacation. And I also have to say, as I mentioned, it's the end of June, I'm recording this and it's, it's probably been the first time in the last six to eight weeks that my voice fills back to normal. I got laryngitis, as you might know, back in May. And I just now I'm starting to feel that my voice is coming back. So that's really beneficial as a podcaster to have my voice back. And I appreciate you sticking with me in the meantime because some of those past episodes are a little rough from a voice perspective. So, so glad you're here. Okay, so we're going to dive in today on taking vacation as an independent consultant. And I'll share with you some of the philosophy and strategy around that. And then next week I'll share with you tips on the three steps to take that vacation you're going to take a success. So with that, today, we're going to focus on these first three key areas. First, we're going to talk about planning ahead. And the thought processes and philosophies around what you might want to be doing as you're planning ahead for your vacation as a business owner. The second focus that I'll get for you today is what I call vacation enablers. So creating your vacation enablers and I'm going to share with you three tangible vacation enablers that you'll you may want to consider implementing in your business. And then we'll wrap up with three with the mental side. So creating those vacation enablers that are on the mental side, which quite frankly, are the most important so definitely don't miss that part of the episode. Before we dive in, though, I just wanted to share with you I often get the question. You know, I really appreciate what you're sharing on the podcast, how can I apply this to my own business? How can you know, work with you directly to make sure that what I'm taking from the podcast I really am able to execute against and apply it to my own business my own scenarios? And so if that's something that you might have been asking, I thought I would just share with you quickly here are the three ways that you're able to work with me. I usually sometimes I'll share this at the end of the episodes, but I thought I'd just start off today's episode with it just so that you know, I know for me sometimes I listen to people's podcasts and I love them. And I have no idea how I could work with that
with those individuals. And then, I love researching so I'll just go down a rabbit hole and figure out the answer. But I know for so many we just keep moving on with our lives and don't really think about what it means to work with someone Who's got a podcast like me. So, the three ways to work with me are in my, the first one is in my three-month foundational coaching program. And that's where we implement the five pillars that are required to scale your consulting business so that you're making more money, it's easier to make the monies, you're actually working less, and you feel more fulfilled and more, you're more profitable, and you feel more in control and can in command as a business owner, that is our goal in those three months is to put all of that infrastructure in place. So you know exactly what you're doing. As a business owner, I'm sure you've been in business, you've been in business, and if you've been listening to this podcast, you've had some success. And this helps you take it to the next level so that you're scaling your business. And by scaling, I mean, you're increasing your revenue, you're increasing your profits, you're increasing your fulfillment, you're increasing your impact. And I teach you how to do that without needing to build a huge team or have a bunch of subcontractors. The point of this is to be solo, or independent. Now, some of you may want a few subcontractors here and there, of course, I talk a lot about having my own VA and fractional CFO and that type of thing. So it doesn't mean that support is bad either. But really, we want to design a business that makes the most sense for you. That is the most simplistic to manage, where you get to do what you love, and are able to be successful at that. So that's what the three-month foundational coaching looks like. And then the second way to work with me is in a more expanded offering. So I work with clients also in, in addition to that three months, I offer 10-month expanded coaching, where we really have the time and space to implement and optimize those five scaling pillars that I mentioned to you, where you so that your business can scale and grow with a goal of a million or so in revenue, and allow you to continue working on your own terms. So those are the two ways to work with me, this is private coaching. This is not a group program. very intentionally, I have a lot of people who come from group programs or other programs who really want to dive in deep and have that one-on-one expert to support them, so they can get further faster. And if you're not quite ready to work with a coach, go, be sure to go out the third way to work with me go over to icy scorecard.com, the letters IC scorecard.com. And you can take the scalability scorecard assessments, and it will help you to pinpoint the top one or two priorities that you can then dive into to scale your business. So that's a completely free resource. And I just recently revamped it and upgraded it and it's even better than it was before. So definitely go check that out. Okay, so with that those are the ways to work with me. And therefore you don't have to go searching for the answer. It's right there. And with that, let's dive into the topic today, which is taking a vacation. The three things are right, let's first talk about planning ahead. Here's the challenge that I see. And this I quite frankly fell into this trap myself. So I'm always sharing with you mistakes I've made personally as well as mistakes, I see so many consultants making and that is winging it winging it thinking, Oh, well, I'll take time off. You know, if you have kids, I'll take time off around their school schedule, and then it never really happens. I know at one point I started it several years ago before COVID Even I started feeling really drained and exhausted and just as it was becoming more and more challenging to go to work every day. And I run my own business, right, I've been doing this for 10 years, couldn't quite figure out what had what was different. And all of a sudden, you know, it dawned on me, it had been 18 months since I had taken literally, you know, a full week off. I had taken days here and there are partial A lot of times partial days here and there. Even sometimes partial days and over the course of an entire week. But, it had been 18 months since I had taken off an entire week without even you know without looking at my work emails or any of my work responsibility, my business responsibility. And you might be in that same boat too.
I will tell you for sure from a personal perspective and also from so many clients that I work with. This leads to burnout. I'm sure you know this from your corporate career, not taking time off or taking off just partial days, you're not able to rejuvenate. I wasn't. And it just kind of adds up, right? It accumulates. And so you end up burning out, and not having that joy for your business that you experienced early on. So here's what here's the challenge that I want to give you today, which is to sit down and map out your business calendar for the next 12 months. One of my clients was just telling me recently, that you'll hear her on the podcast, in a month or so. But she was just telling me she scheduled herself a retreat, a corporate retreat of one, I love that idea, right? It's like, I'm just going to book myself retreats, and I'm going to go stay at a hotel for a weekend or, or even better yet in the middle of the week, and really plan out the next 12 months. I love and you know, so whatever works for you, right? It doesn't have to be your own personal corporate retreat, it can be several hours that you set aside on a day that you work on your business, and really sit down and figure out what that business calendar needs to look like, for the next 12 months? And by business calendar? I mean, your vacation days, what holidays? Does your company sell? Celebrate? What? What holidays does your company give off to its employees? Which is also you? What are your what are holiday policies? What are the vacation policies, really think about what is your version of a business calendar, and then plan your life around that. So setting aside that time, if you want to be closed for the last two weeks or month of the year, you've got to decide that in advance. Otherwise, everything's going to seep onto the calendar, and then you're and then you're going to feel kind of trapped, and just go forward with it, and won't have taken any meaningful time off. Right? That happens to all of us. So today, I'm really challenging you to say, let's sit down and figure out what your calendar looks like. The other thing you get to decide is what is your fiscal year. And I'm going to use the word fiscal year right now very loosely, because you may want it as a calendar year from an accounting or taxes perspective. But from a planning perspective, what's your fiscal year look like? I have no idea why but Oracle's fiscal year always sticks in my head. All of these years of working in corporate I, for whatever reason, randomly know, Oracle's fiscal year is so strange. But the point is, the reason why I think is that it's so odd. I think, now that I say that, on the podcasts, I might be wrong. But I believe it ends at the end of June, which is mid-year or might be the end of May. Now. Now I don't even remember, as I'm saying this to you. But the point here is that, that we can choose any kind of 12-month start and end date that we want from a planning perspective. And so when you think about it, from that perspective, what I'd love to do is, is think about my 12-month year around the school calendar, because as you probably know, and have heard, I have three kids. And so they're all in, in school, and everything really in our life revolves around that schedule. So I like to just sit down, you know, right now is a perfect time for school for us. It starts back in August, and just start planning out the next 12 months around that school's calendar. Of course, you can choose to schedule it from January to December or pick some random months, it doesn't even matter. But just knowing that it makes sense to you and that you're going to do it religiously is what is the key here. So as you're doing this, as you're sitting down and mapping out your business calendar,
you've got to really think about first and foremost, what time off are you going to take? So as the CEO of your business, what are your policies, ask yourself? What is my vacation policy? As the CEO of my business? What vacations Am I giving to my employees? Just happens that your employee is yourself? What is your time off policy? What are your working hours? What does sick leave look like? Really mapping all of this out for yourself so that you know ahead of time. And that way you're going to be able you know that much easier to carve out things when you think ahead versus when you get into a feeling like you're in an emergency, and you're about to burn out if you don't take time off. So the message here in terms of planning ahead is to treat your employee who is yourself to the best possible experience of working for you You get to decide, I mean, think back to corporate and how frustrated you probably were about certain policies or the way vacation worked, or how you had an unlimited vacation, but couldn't really take it and ended up with less vacation than if the company had offered three weeks, some set amount, right? Okay, now you're in charge, you get to decide, you make the policy, you make it explicit, you base it off of how you want to treat your employees from the place of, I want to make the best possible experience for to work here. So that is what it looks like to plan ahead effectively for your vacation. So now let's talk about the second topic, which is vacation enablers. And I want to start with money. Because that's really the biggest obstacle beyond tight client deadlines is probably this is definitely the second one. But the first one is money, right? One of the biggest reasons I find that consultants either don't take time off or defer time off is some fears they have about money. So that could be you too. So I want to give you some very tangible tips here that you can implement. And then we'll talk about the mental side of this here in a minute. Because that's, that's a really important component of this, but the tangible tips for you around money are creating a reserve fund for yourself. Think about it, you know, what's the advice from a mortgage perspective. Now, I'm gonna just say something, that's probably not the normal advice, but it's something around, you know, roughly have a mortgage, that's roughly 30% of what your income is. We have these kinds of concepts throughout our lives that have, you know, that relate to money. And so think about it from the perspective of AI. The other example that I meant to share here, I went down a rabbit hole there. So what I was meaning to say was not about the mortgage, but more so of, you know, it's really important to save money you know, save several months of living expenses, in case you lose your job, or whatever happens when you're working as an employee right. And so we can translate that advice, which can be really sound advice, and really, you know, something that creates a cushion, transfer that to you as a business owner. So when I so that essentially, when you're transferring that concept is to create a reserve fund for yourself in your business. So I'm not talking about your personal finances right now, I'm talking about your business finances. So ask yourself, what does it take to run my business for a three-month period or a six-month period, however long you want that, that kind of runway to be.
And so when you think about that, it's expensive to run your business, like perhaps you have a virtual assistant or you have software that you buy, or subscriptions to your business expenses may be very lean, but you've also got to include your salary in that the amount you pay yourself, that's probably going to be the biggest chunk that and saving for taxes. So ask yourself, what if you know that number that I pay out every single month, and then multiply that by three months or six months and get yourself to a number that that is now going to be your goal for reserve funds. So just as an example, you might want to save off 50k In reserve funds. And then that gives you a big cushion so that when you go when you're planning out your vacation, and you know you're going to take a vacation in October for fall break or whatever it is, you know that if for some reason you have cash flow a little bit less cash flow from client billing, that you've got that reserve fund to pay your yourself in your bills, how part is really important. operate this like a business This isn't you generating a paycheck every two weeks. This is you running a business and so having the ability to take time off because you've established things like a reserve fund is really important. The other thing that is a really helpful strategy as relates to vacation enablers is to bake this time off into your business plan. So if you need more on a business plan, go back to Episode 67. We'll put that in the show notes. But really think about the 12-month period. What is my revenue goal? What's my profit goal and build out your business plan in a way that assumes You're taking time off, it could be that you're taking two weeks off in the summer and two weeks off at the end of the year, it could be that you're only working 10 months instead of 12 out of the year, it could mean that you're taking off two weeks, you know, in the summer and two weeks at the end of the year, plus every Friday, what does your time off and your vacation plan look like and bake that into your business plan upfront. So that you're not relying on you know, whatever you're invoicing at the moment to tell you if you feel comfortable taking a vacation or not. That's much more of an employee mentality. We're trying to build a CEO a business owner mentality for you. And if you need to, you know, build in a short mini-project of some sort to kind of ramp up your cash flow, ramp up your billings, or whatever you need to do to kind of as a stopgap. But definitely think about your business as a business versus as a paycheck that comes in every couple of weeks. That's the key here from a monetary or financial vacation enablers' point of view. Okay, so now let's round this out with the mental, what I call the mental vacation enablers. And this is the part where I see so many people getting stuck. So I want to make sure you're avoiding this. Here's what happens, kind of by default. You might be thinking and thinking about whether this applies to you or not, it applies to so many of us I've personally fallen into these traps. But you might be thinking things like now isn't a good time, I'll take off a time later, the economy feels a little shaky, I'll take time off later, I've got to catch up on my numbers, I feel like I'm just kind of on the precipice here of the numbers that I had plans, and it going downhill, I've got to catch up on my numbers, right, don't want to leave money on the table. Whatever it is that you might be thinking. really notice that this is just status quo thinking this is a common thing that we think feels really practical. But what ends up happening, if you allow this thought these thought processes to continue, is that you end up not planning time off, canceling your time off, justifying not taking time off, because all of those thoughts that I just shared with you seem really logical. And then you end up burning out and you don't want to run a business in this way, right. At some point, you're going to think well, this is worse than working in corporate, I'm just gonna go back, when in fact, you're the one who's created all these dynamics and a business that you wouldn't even want to work in as an employee.
Just like I did when this 18-month span where was literally not a day off except for the weekends. When you're able to have those vacation, enablers, create that cushion for yourself, create a plan that incorporates vacation, and then shift your mindset from that status quo into CEO quality thinking, CEO quality thinking looks like I'm committed to hitting my numbers and to taking time off. It looks like I'm a business owner who honors the commitments that I make to myself, it looks like this time off will benefit both me and my business. This time off will benefit me my business and my clients. When you approach your vacation, actually execute on the vacation, assuming you planned it from step one. When you approach thinking about your vacation in this way, it helps you to figure out how to hit your numbers and take the time off. If you allow yourself to stay in the status quo thinking which is I've got to catch up on my numbers or I don't want to leave money on the table. And you just stay in that thought that those types of thought processes. You never become the CEO or the business owner who solves for this, who's someone who figures out how to hit your revenue numbers and take time off. You never figure that out. You never build that muscle. But if you can shift into thinking about this and saying asking yourself really high-quality questions, how can I hit my numbers and take time off? Even if you didn't plan ahead? Obviously, I strongly recommend planning ahead. But look, it's the end of June when you're listening to this am I be July or even later in the year. Even if you didn't plan ahead, ask yourself the question, How can I hit my numbers? How can I generate the revenue and the profitability that I want to generate? Or that I need to generate? And be able to take time off? It's a much, much higher quality question than asking yourself, Is this a good time to take time off, of course, you're always gonna find, find out, come up with 50 reasons as to why it's not a good time. So you've got to focus on building up your business owner mentality, and becoming the business owner you want to work for, as an employee of your own business, and figure out how to hit those numbers while you're taking off the time that you really, truly want to take off to create your version of balance in your business and in your life. So that is the mental side, the mental vacation enabler that is so incredibly important. So let's just take a recap here, be sure to put today's podcast in action co-plan those next 12 months of vacation, and then book the vacations, don't just put it in the calendar, because that's not really truly commitment, right? If you just decide, well, I'm gonna go on a vacation. But what you're really doing then is just waiting, like giving yourself that opening, to see how things are going when it gets closer to the time. And then really deciding, I'm challenging you to decide now and commit to it. Don't just go through those motions, don't go through the motions, right. If you remember back to the episode that we talked about the six C's, those six, the letter C, the six C's that are required to be that successful consulting business owner, one of them is commitment, committing to the time that you decided and taking it following through figuring out how to be the business owner who takes the time off even when something crazy happens in your business, maybe you lose a client or maybe your billings are lower than what they were being the business owner who figures it out to take the time off and to generate the revenue is going to be a skill that lasts you for the duration of your business and upon what you can build. Okay, so that is what I have for you today. Be sure to stay tuned for next week, when I'll share the strategies that we can implement those three strategies for making your vacation successful. And if you didn't yet go take that ISC, the independent consultant scalability scorecard so you can get some more insights into what your top one or two main priorities could be for scaling your business so you can make more money and have more flexibility and ease and more vacations. All right. I will see you again next week. Take care.