The summer holidays are approaching and while that means a well-deserved break, for many sole traders it can also be a time of anxiety. How do you keep your business going while you are away? As a sole trader with no staff to delegate to, quite a lot of activities will need to pause during your time off. You can’t, for example, dispatch items to your customers. Obviously, holidays can affect your business; however with a bit of forward planning, it is possible to mitigate the impact. Here are some things owners can do to prepare for their holiday.
1. Let your customers know
One of the first things you should do is let your customers know in advance when you will be away. If you have existing clients, the best way to do this is to contact them by email, giving them plenty of notice where possible.
For new customers, you should make it clear on your website that you are on holiday. You can do this by placing a note on the pages of your website. The note should, where possible, explain how this will affect the customer. For example, if you run an online store, you may still be able to take orders and payments but will need to let customers know, before they pay, when the goods will be dispatched. A final reminder on the checkout page is essential in case a customer needs the product before you get back.
You should also let customers know that you will be unable to deal with enquiries or offer customer support until the date you specify.
2. Set up an autoresponder
As you won’t want to spend your holidays dealing with business emails, the best solution is to set up an email autoresponder. Doing this will ensure that anyone who does get in contact via email doesn’t think you are ignoring them and lets them know when you will be able to respond.
Likewise, you should also set up a customised message on your telephone answering service so that anyone who calls knows not to expect a call back until your holidays are over.
3. Completing orders
There are some businesses where it is possible to complete orders in advance of your holiday so that you can meet deadlines which pass while you are away. This way of ensuring the business stays running during your vacation applies to a wide variety of sole traders, from copywriters to manufacturers. It means putting in extra hours in the lead up to the holiday but ensures customers get their goods and that income is still generated.
For retailers there is also the potential to use a fulfilment service. These are third-party companies that you can send your stock to and they will dispatch them on your behalf while you are away. They are able to link their system with your website, so that they know when you receive new orders and where to send the items. They will charge a fee for their service but it does mean your business can continue delivering as normal.
4. Get your website ready
The last thing you need while you are away is for there to be issues with your website. Before you go, there are a number of things you should do to prevent problems. Firstly, either take a backup of your website or set up backups to be made automatically. Doing this means that if the worst happens while you are away, you’ll be able to restore your site easily once you return, or if necessary while you are still on holiday.
Following this, make sure your themes and plugins are updated to the latest versions. This will make your site less vulnerable to attack and reduce the possibility of it being hacked or infected.
If your control panel is available as an app, such as the cPanel app, then installing this on your phone and setting it up will enable you to manage your website easily from wherever you have an internet connection. This way, if there are issues you need to deal with urgently, you have access to everything, even at the poolside. In addition, make sure you have the contact details of your web host’s technical support, just in case you need them. These should be available 24/7 so it won’t matter if you’re in a different time zone.
As a sole trader, it can be difficult to leave your business unattended for a few weeks while you go on holiday. However, with the right preparation, you can reduce the impact on your business. By informing your customers, completing orders in advance, protecting and backing up your website, and downloading your control panel app, you will have everything in place to make your well-earned vacation as relaxed and stress-free as possible. If you are looking for hosting for your sole trader business, check out our cloud-based, cPanel hosting packages.