At With Grace and Gold, we are firm believers that our businesses should be designed around our lives — not that our lives should be designed around our businesses. Believing this is much easier than doing this — but over the years, we’ve discovered really helpful resources and developed really helpful habits in order to work toward a business and lifestyle we love. Last year, Andra took a maternity leave, and I took a sabbatical. Today, we’re excited to share how to prepare your business for a maternity leave or sabbatical — what worked well and what we’ll do differently on our next break!
How to Prepare Your Business for a Maternity Leave or Sabbatical
What Worked Well Last Year
- We communicated about our upcoming break in our e-mail signature. Having our upcoming maternity leave and sabbatical listed in our e-mail signature served as a helpful reminder for us to communicate about our upcoming break as soon as our communications began or continued with prospective clients or current clients. This served as a quick and easy way to prepare for our upcoming break and ensure our prospective and current clients could, too!
- We communicated with our clients about our upcoming break as soon as we could. As we journeyed through our design process with our current clients, we communicated about our upcoming break as soon as we could. We shared what our clients could expect from the remainder of our design process, and what our upcoming break would mean for their process. As a whole, we worked hard to launch each client before our upcoming break, so none of our clients would need to pause their process or experience a delay in any way.
- We communicated about our upcoming break on our Contact page. When clients reached out to us via our Contact page and our contact form, a ‘Thank You’ message with information about our upcoming break would appear. That way, clients wouldn’t need to wait to communicate with us to learn about our upcoming break. Being transparent right away allowed us to begin our journey with clients who were prepared for our break.
- We set deadlines and created schedules for our current clients. As we prepared for our upcoming break, we set deadlines and created schedules for our current clients. (Typically, we set looser deadlines and schedules for our clients, while still communicating in a timely, organized way.) We were able to send our clients due dates, expectations, and guidelines in order to ensure their process would be completed 2 weeks before our scheduled break. (We built in a 2-week grace period!)
- We tapered our upcoming clients’ start dates. Finally, as we looked toward the end of our break and resuming our work on August 1st, we tapered our upcoming clients’ start dates. Rather than starting all new clients on August 1st, we tapered the start dates — August 1st, August 5th, August 10th. That way, we were able to ease back into our work and get acclamated to our work.
What We’ll Do Differently Next Year
- We will communicate with our clients about our upcoming break only when absolutely necessary. One mistake we made was communicating with every current client about our upcoming break. Since many clients were set to ‘launch’ well before our upcoming break, informing them about our break actually caused a bit of panic and distraction. Although we believed our transparency would be helpful, and although we communicated “Our upcoming break will not impact your process in any way” — we discovered we truly shouldn’t have communicated about our break unless our clients truly needed to know.
- We will work as hard as we can to complete our clients’ processes, but only when absolutely necessary. It was important to us that our clients did not experience any pauses or delays in their process, due to our break. For this reason, we concluded the process of every client we were serving in the weeks before our scheduled break. While we did not rush in any way, we did spend days, evenings, and weekends working tirelessly to ensure we could meet that goal of ours. This time around, we will communicate about our break and build expectations around our break. That way, we do not need to overextend ourselves in the weeks before our break.
- We will give ourselves grace and gently ask our clients to do the same. We experienced many, many challenges surrounding our past maternity leave and sabbatical — and discovered many of our audience members had similar experiences or fears. For next year’s break, we will give ourselves grace and will be understanding that we’re likely to learn and grow through our next break as well. We’ll ask our clients to be patient with us, and we’ll hope for a better, more positive experience.
We are so hopeful today’s post serves as encouragement for you as you look toward a maternity leave or sabbatical from your small business! What questions do you have for us? Share in the comments below!