Taking a vacation is a big step for many entrepreneurs. Afraid to lose customers, they never dare to take a break. Let alone a few months. Yet you can also take a sabbatical with your own company. Provided you do this at the right time.
Phone out, the out-of-office reply and let go of your work completely for a few weeks. As a self-employed person, you might only dare to dream of this.
After all, not working means no income. And imagine that because of your absence you miss out on just that one important customer.
Taking a few months off is not an option at all. "Sin", says job happiness coach and founder of Happy Works.nl Onno Hamburger. "By taking a few months off, you get rid of fixed patterns and structures. That leads to new insights."
Sabbatical determines the course of the company
And you can really use that fresh perspective as an entrepreneur. That experience also had founder and brand strategist at branding agency Tree Full or Scones Floortje Lopes. For her, her sabbatical even determined the course that she subsequently took with her company.
In 2015 she left for South Africa with her husband and children for three months. Because she wanted to do more here than laze around, she used her marketing experience to help local foundations in the country. That was so satisfying that once she returned to the Netherlands to look for other types of customers.
"A sabbatical is a period of reflection." Annegien Blokpoel, founder of PerspeXo consultancy
"The companies I used to work for were not about impact," she explains. "Now my clients are mainly smaller companies that want to make the world a little better."
"A sabbatical is a period of reflection," says Annegien Blokpoel. She is the founder of consultancy firm PerspeXo and coaches companies and start-ups. According to her, you can also benefit from this as an entrepreneur. "Certainly if you have been running a successful business for a long time and you are wondering if you are still on the right course."
Hire a freelancer
The reason that brand strategist Lopes went sabbatical was of a completely different order. "My husband and I had the dream to go to South Africa for a long time," she says. "At some point you just have to do it." she hired a freelancer who took over the work from her.
"At some point you just have to do it." Floortje Lopes, brand strategist branding agency Tree Full of Scones
"I had instructed them very well. Before leaving, I devised systems and protocols for everything." She remained personally responsible. Lopes: "I also communicated that clearly to the customers. If there really was a problem, they could reach me."
This worked out well for Lopes. "Before my sabbatical I did everything myself," she explains. "Now I hardly do any more executive work. By going to South Africa, I was forced to think about a different business model where the company can function without me. I still benefit from that now."
You take a risk
Still, start-up coach Blokpoel advises entrepreneurs to first ensure that everything runs smoothly and then to leave. "In the first few years, your company will go through different growth moments," she explains.
According to the entrepreneur, it is not a good idea to be on the spot during such a growth spurt in Bali or at another tropical location. "As an entrepreneur, you have to constantly make adjustments at those moments," she explains.
"When something goes wrong, you can intervene less quickly." Annegien Blokpoel, founder of PerspeXo consultancy
By taking a break, you take a big risk, she says. "When something goes wrong, you are less able to intervene. That slows down your growth. That is a waste of all the time and energy that you have put into your company."
Mini sabbatical in the summer
Only when your company can live without you for a few months is a sabbatical a good idea, according to Blokpoel. "That point usually comes after about five years," she says.
Can't you wait that long? Then coach Hamburger has a tip. "Take two months off during the summer period," he says. "For many customers, the work is therefore at a lower level. That makes it easier to leave for a longer period."