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Start: Mark Evans

The guilt-free vacation Add to ...

With summer now in full swing, it's time to escape the workplace for some much-needed rest and relaxation.

The challenge for entrepreneurs is being able to really get away, particularly for those who are one-person operations. If you're on vacation, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to properly do business.

So how do you take a guilt-free vacation that doesn't impact your business or customers?

First off, make a solid commitment to take a vacation, as opposed to having a rough idea of getting away. Don't back down, even if new business begins to materialize. The time to recharge is key to maintaining yourself and your business throughout the rest of the year.

The next step is to warn existing and potential customers that you will be on vacation. This establishes expectations, and gives them the opportunity to adjust their own plans. Customers can't be under the impression that you are entirely at their beck and call. It also provides the opportunity to schedule meetings and new projects for when your vacation is over.

Before you head off, complete as many tasks or projects as possible. This will not only make your customers happy and let you return to work with a clean slate and fewer things on the to-do list. Worrying about unfinished work is no way to spend a holiday.

If it's impossible to completely escape, try to be disciplined about checking in while you're away. Plan for work time where and when you need it, but be conservative. Too many people spend too much time checking e-mail and doing work when they are supposed to enjoying their vacation.

When it comes to e-mail, establish slots to check in. Advise clients that you will only be checking e-mail once a day so they know you won't be responding right away.

It's crucial these "e-mail slots" be respected; otherwise everything goes off the rails, including your vacation. One way to resist the temptation of checking e-mail is - and I this may sound sacrilegious - just turning off your Blackberry or iPhone.

The bottom line is that vacations are important and necessary, particularly for small business owners or entrepreneurs who are so engaged and consumed with work. While it can be tough to get your head around temporarily walking away from your business, some rest and a morale boost will be beneficial in the long run.

Special to the Globe and Mail

Mark Evans is a principal with ME Consulting , a content and social media strategic and tactical consultancy that creates and delivers 'stories' for companies looking to capture the attention of customers, bloggers, the media, business partners, employees and investors. Mark has worked with three start-ups - Blanketware, b5Media and PlanetEye - so he understands how they operate and what they need to do to be successful. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshUniversity and meshmarketing conferences.

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