There are many upsides to owning a small business. Autonomy, control, creativity and the knowledge you’re working for yourself are just some of them.
But running a business, particularly during the first few years, is hard work. There are long days, few opportunities to take a break, and little downtime. This can lead to burnout and rising stress levels. So, how important is it for small business owners to take a holiday?
Taking time off is not a priority for more than half of small business owners
More than half (52%) of small business owners in the UK say they take less than five days off a year. The report from Aldermore SME Future Attitudes also says that a fifth (21%) take zero holiday days. And this is the downside to needing to retain control over every aspect of your small business.
Maintaining oversight of every aspect of a small business is the challenge facing every owner. For some, this leads to the neglect of a work/life balance. The report covers more than one thousand leaders and decision makers in the UK. From this number, 35% take work with them when they do take a holiday. A further third ensure it’s covered by a colleague and just over a fifth (21%) cancel days off to make sure work is finished.
While there are some regional differences in the report, nationally about a quarter (24%) of small business owners continue to communicate with the office on a daily basis. London bosses report the most time spent communicating with their business, with 30% responding to calls and emails while they’re away. In the North West, this drops to 16%, with a greater percentage able to switch off from work responsibilities.
Happily, most small business owners do encourage their staff to use up their holiday entitlement. Despite the fact that many bosses fail to take their own holidays, more than 70% actively encourage their staff to do so. Just 17% say they don’t push their staff to take their holidays.
Why it’s important to take time off
There may never be a ‘good time’ to take time off. But it’s important that as a small business owner, you accept this and book it anyway. Here’s why.
Holidays help to avoid burnout
No matter how hardworking and entrepreneurial you are, everyone needs to switch off at some point. Stress is a cumulative thing, and exhaustion can build up for a while before it has any tangible effects. If you don’t take the time to rest and refresh both the mind and body, you will eventually hamper your own productivity and success.
Build trust in your team
Taking a holiday and being forced to delegate key tasks is a positive step towards building trust. Most small business owners struggle with letting go of tasks, but by taking a holiday they are forced to entrust their team with tasks. Leave them contact details and instructions of how to get hold of you in an emergency and trust the process.
Family time is important
The drive to start a business often comes with the idea that it will be easier to spend time with the family. After all, you make the rules. However, the reality of the work involved often side-lines these intentions. And if you work long days and find it difficult to spend quality time in a normal working week, then holiday time is even more important.
Use technology to ease into your holiday
Modern technology allows more ways than ever to stay in touch but at a distance:
You will take it on holiday with you. After all, everyone does. But take the opportunity to give yourself some space from it at the same time. Leave it in the safe in your room and have a few hours free from all communication every day. Tell clients you are away and give them alternative contact points. You can always tell them that they can contact you direct if there is an emergency.
Your team should be fully apprised of where you are and that you should only be contacted if it’s important.
Apps for project management
Many small businesses use project management apps, such as Trello and Basecamp. They make it simple to keep on top of tasks and what needs prioritising. Don’t forget to adjust the settings so that notifications are off while you’re away. This will help to create a distance between you and the office. You can always check in once a day to ensure it’s all on track.
Use focus tools if you take work with you
If it’s completely unavoidable and you must do work while you’re away, use tools like Quickstarter to ensure you focus on a short but productive time.
James Turner, Managing Director of Turner Little Limited says: “Small business owners are generally dedicated, passionate and motivated. Add into this mix the ability to remain connected online at all times, and it’s not surprising that holidays are few and far between. It’s difficult for many small business owners to switch off fully, and it’s all too easy to check in every day.”
“Entrepreneurial spirit is undoubtedly key to success for small and medium sized enterprises. This comes with the drive to work long hours, and the acceptance of sacrificing holiday time. However, it’s concerning that so many business leaders are taking so little time off.”
“The small business sector is the backbone of the country’s economy. And so the hard work of business owners is vital to its success. To avoid burnout, it’s important that they take breaks regularly. A good work/life balance is essential for long-term success and can also help to refresh their perspective on the business and the challenges ahead. It’s a win/win.”
About Turner Little
Founded in 1998 in Yorkshire, UK, Turner Little is a specialist UK and offshore company formation, banking and corporate services provider. Our services include company formation, UK and offshore banking, asset protection, credit correction, trademarking and trusts. Other services include Internet services, mail forwarding, wills and probate. Turner Little’s vision is to offer the best possible service, together with market leading products.