How To Take An Extended Break Without Losing Clients Or Income
Sometimes we need a break.
Sometimes a weekend, or even a week, isn't enough.
I came across this situation in November 2020 when I hit a wall I just couldn't climb over... no matter how hard I tried.
I turned to some of my colleagues in the mindset business and talked to them about how I was feeling and what I was struggling with, and they all agreed that taking a break was needed. And not just any break. We're talking an indefinite break. A break that didn't have an end date.
I would simply come back to work when I had the urge to do so.
At first, I thought everyone was crazy. How was I going to take an indefinite break from my business?
This was my first step:
Accepting that it's what I needed to do.
But before I get too far ahead of myself, let's get into how you can know that it's time to take a break.
How do you know you need a break?
You stop feeling passion and joy when you're doing your tasks. Your tasks seem more like chores than things you "get" to do. As business owners, we are so lucky to be able to work with different people, make our own schedules, and have control over our income. So, when you stop seeing those luxuries and start seeing your business tasks as crutches, you probably need a breather.
You work less and less every day. Most people work the standard eight hour day. I don't do that, but many people do. Have a look at what your average number of work hours is on a daily basis and if you find you're struggling to actually put in the time, then your mind might not be in the right place to actually show up for your business.
Clients notice something is off. People aren't stupid. If you work with people long enough then they can tell when something is wrong. Maybe you talk less in meetings, come up with less ideas, take longer to respond to emails, etc. If your clients start to notice that you're feeling off, then that's a big red flag!
You can't remember the last time you took more than 3-4 four days to yourself. Since it's just us in our businesses, we don't have someone reminding us to take our vacation days. I'm horrible for this and often find myself struggling to remember when I consciously blocked off days where I didn't even have to check my inbox. If you can't remember the last time you took time off, that wasn't a long weekend, it's probably time.
I was feeling and experiencing all these things! Which means, it was time that I took time off.
But again, how was I going to just stop working for an extended period of time, with no end date, and without losing clients or income?
Let's get into how I did it!
Being OK with taking the time
This was honestly the first step I had to take. I am someone who is constantly working towards my next milestone, which means taking an extended period of time off would be hard for me.
I was basically pushing pause on all these things I had planned. I wasn't ok with that in the beginning and a really struggled to just let go and be with myself. I basically needed to break up with my business...
I'm also someone who struggles with the feeling of not pulling my weight in my marriage. I didn't want my husband to feel like I was slacking or not contributing to my family. The reality is, these thoughts were all in my head and not in my husband's mind.
As you can see, there were a lot of mindset challenges I had to overcome to even be able to take this break. I was struggling to even allow myself to step away... which is also a red flag.
...and something I'm still working on today.
You might say that I had a bit of an addiction to my business and needed to rediscover life outside of making money, carrying out strategies, and sitting in my office chair.
So, in order to overcome these mindset issues, I put together a plan. I wrote it all down so it was right in front of me in black and white. I outlined:
Financial plan so I could see that money was still coming in, savings were still growing, and everything was good to go for at least a couple months.
Behind-the-scenes in my business and the things I wanted to put in place before I left. This meant launching my new website and making sure my Pinterest was running smoothly to still drive traffic.
Client communication and what I still needed to do during my time off. There were a few meetings I knew I was still going to do and Voxer messages I would still send.
What the goal for my time was. Yes, this was for me to relax but I also didn't want to come back without having given myself what I needed. I outlined what I needed during this time.
Once I had this outline and I completed the final tasks, I closed my computer, my office door, and went about figuring things out without my business top of mind.
I didn't tell anyone I was taking a break
That's right. I didn't tell my clients, my email list, my social media, etc, that I was taking a break. I recommend this to anyone who is thinking of taking an extended break.
My reason for this is two-fold:
You DO NOT need to justify your actions to take care of yourself. If you need to leave for a couple weeks, a month, a year, that's your decision. You do not need to explain yourself to anyone or on any platform. This is your decision and that's all that matters.
You don't want to make your clients feel unsupported. Telling your clients you're taking a break is a huge red flag for them and may cause them to question whether or not you're someone they want to work with or can even reach out to for help during that time. You don't want your clients to feel like they're working with the wrong person or can't get support if hey need it. You could simply decrease the number of meetings and batch tasks in advance.
You have the right to take a break and not tell anyone when it's happening, why it's happening, and when you'll be back. As long as your basics are covered, then keep it to yourself and do your healing.
Focus on opportunities for batching
When I started my business, I did a ton of different tasks and many of those tasks required me to be at my desk on certain days at certain times. I was never a fan of that.
This is when I started to only accept opportunities that allowed me to not only batch tasks but also do them in advance. This meant I could sit down on a Monday and do all my tasks for the week and then have the flexibility to do whatever I wanted.
By focusing on these opportunities, I was able to request that I receive content and tasks at least a few weeks in advance so I could work on them. I then batched all my tasks and got everything done for the weeks ahead, which meant all my work was done and my clients still felt supported while I took my break.
This tip may not be something you can do right now, but I highly recommend working towards tasks that allow you to have more control over when you work and when you don't.
Diversify your income
If I've learned anything from getting let go from my job and having no idea what to do next, it's:
Don't let your income be from one source.
Here's a little chart to outline some ways you can diversify your income from JUST selling services:
You can head to this post on my Instagram to learn more about the importance of diversifying your service income!
Another option you have to diversify your income is to create some form of digital products!
This could be in the form of mini-course, downloadable content, and more! This kind of income would be considered passive as you're only creating it once and then selling it without actually having to deliver a service.
Here are some examples of my digital products and passive income streams:
My template shop! This is where you can purchase customizable templates for proposals and onboarding content for your clients.
My client acquisition crash course! This is a mini-course for just $27 that outlines a bunch of different ways I've found clients for my business and how you can do the same
These are lower ticket items that my audience can just buy without me having to deliver a service.
There's nothing quite like waking up to emails saying you made money while you were snoozing!
Make sure you have a healthy profit account
Think of this as your business savings account.
I'll be honest, I didn't have a profit account for the first few years I was in business. I would receive money from clients, put a percentage away to pay taxes, and then deposit the rest into my personal account.
I had to emergency plan or money set aside if I had a slow month, lost a client, or wanted to take a break from my business.
But, let me tell you, have an account with funds set aside for a rainy day is a great feeling. The reality is, these funds don't have a real purpose. They're there to support you when you need support.
I personally recommend trying to put away 10-15% of your monthly income into your profit account. But, it's whatever you can manage.
Now, because my business is set up with diverse income and other strategies, I didn't really need my profit account while I took time off. But it definitely allowed me to relax more knowing the income was there if I needed it.
Fun idea: I remember seeing someone post in a Facebook group that if they didn't touch their profit account for a year, they would gift themselves with half of whatever was in the account so they could treat themselves. So fun!
Take a break if you need it
At the end of the day, we all need breaks. I waited too long to take mine, which means I needed way more time than most people.
I needed a long enough break that I had to do thorough prep and take time to wrap my head around what I was doing.
So, try and take at least 5 days off in a row every 3-4 months. Take 2-3 weeks off a Christmas time. Batch your content and tasks so you only work 3-4 days a week.
Give yourself grace and allow yourself to breathe.
At the end of my six weeks, I was excited to come back and I chose to keep things slow and on my own terms. It's working for me so far.
Do things on your own terms and take care of yourself.
All my love,
Want to save time and unnecessary headache, while also "wowing" clients into working with you? Snag one of my easy to use templates so you can create proposals and onboarding content for your new clients with ease!
My signature 1:1 coaching program, Sold Out Services, if for aspiring and current entrepreneurs who hate all the guesswork and low income months, and are ready for clarity and their version of success!