We have two very important planning periods for our business. Every fall, we review what has and hasn’t worked for our company.
We reorganize and prepare for the next year based on our findings. Our second major planning period occurs in the spring. At this time, we begin planning for summer for our business and family. The business revenue usually determines whether we can take a vacation or whether we will need to continue working throughout the summer months.
If we’ve had a pretty good start to the year, we will plan for time off during the month of June. Since we’re a virtual business and some portions of the business, like our printing services, run themselves, we have the option to take a working vacation or shut down completely and pick back up when we return. If the revenue is iffy, we may take a week or two to regroup, a “staycation” to strategize, brainstorm and come up with long range plans to attract new customers, retain current customers and get referrals.
Another factor in our summer business planning is our family. Since our children are normally in school during business hours, we don’t worry about distractions or disruptions to our work day.
We work along with the school calendar and plan our work days accordingly. However, during the summer, we have to have child care and/or activities that will keep them busy during the work day so we can continue business as usual. Otherwise, we will be completely off track on a daily basis. Sometimes, we send the kids off to grandma’s, other times we enroll them in summer day camp — depending on the budget.
Last year, things were pretty decent so we took a trip to St. Louis and Oklahoma. We had a lot of fun. This year, we have two children who graduated from high school so our vacation plans revolve around preparing them for their fall destinations — one is going to Texas Tech University, the other is going to the U.S. Air Force — and simultaneously finding things for our younger kids, ages 16 and under, to do while we conduct business.
We created a color coded calendar to keep business appointments and activities for our children coordinated. So far, our dedicated work days are Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The line-up for our children includes movies, bowling and swimming on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Additionally, there are various vacation bible schools they attend for a few hours on a daily basis every other week. We make our schedule as flexible as possible so we can enjoy the time with the kids, but still keep our customers happy and our options open for new business.
So far, we’ve not had to worry that some crisis will occur while we take vacation. Thanks to social media and technology — our Android phones, iPhones and laptops — we are able to stay pretty well connected.
Cedric and Shellye Lyons own The Lyons Group, a consulting firm in Duncanville, Texas, that provides graphic and Web design, printing and online marketing services to small businesses in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and nationwide.