Giving yourself a holiday when you run your own business
You aren’t alone if, as a business owner, you’re reluctant to go on holiday. A recent survey cited in the Guardian revealed that some 76 per cent of small business owners never take a vacation. At first glance, this seems an extraordinary figure. But, on reflection, it’s not so very surprising. It’s natural to worry that the enterprise you are building with such energy and passion will struggle in your absence. Added to that, you probably enjoy your work far more than most employees, so holidays don’t have quite the magnetism they have for others. That said, taking breaks is critically important for both your health and happiness and for the prosperity of your business.
IMPORTANT: why take a holiday?
– It gives your employees a boost by showing that you trust them to hold the fort
– Respected research shows that taking a vacation boosts your overall productivity, by recharging your mental and physical batteries
– The performance of your business in your absence is a sensitive barometer of your personnel and the health of your company, giving you an invaluable insight into changes that can be made to improve your product or your service
– You will get a change of perspective, new ideas and fresh inspiration while you are experiencing different activities and cultures. This can give you renewed creativity in the way you grow your business.
As daunting as leaving your place of business for a week or two may seem, there are tried and tested ways to make sure that everything runs smoothly while you are away:1. Book your holiday well in advance
This gives you time to make plans for the time you’re away and also to prepare yourself psychologically for the break.
2. Try to choose a time of year when typically business is a bit slower.
This is a relatively simple matter for some businesses. The hospitality industry, for example, usually experiences a post-Christmas lull, so the early weeks of January are an obvious opportunity for chefs and restaurateurs to get away from it all. Your sector might not have such a predictable downtime, but do try to work out when your business is likely to be at its most subdued, so you won’t be missed too much and, if you’re a sole trader, you are minimising loss of income.
3. Set out clear guidelines on who will take over from you while you are away.
Having responsibility and accountability will increase the likelihood of your staff treating the business with the same care and energy as they would if it were theirs. Everyone will know what needs doing and the targets you expect to be met. The evidence of your faith in them will motivate your workers.
4. Establish firm rules for how you will stay involved.
Ideally, you would leave all your business paraphernalia – laptops and smartphones, for instance – at home, and forget it for a while. Realistically, this might not be possible. Decide on a time each day when you will check in, and stick to it. Make sure clients and other contacts have been briefed about your absence and designate someone within your firm as a point of contact.