With summer holiday season underway, for many, taking a well-earned break with family and friends is one of the highlights of the year, but for small business owners it can be an anxious time.
Although research from Nuffield Health has shown that getting away from it all is good for you, many entrepreneurs worry that their business may suffer if they head for the beach.
Hiscox’s DNA of an Entrepreneur survey last year revealed that small business owners were feeling the pressure. It showed that 42% said they felt more stressed; 30% said they were losing sleep, 20% said their general health had suffered and 20% had less time for their friends and family.
If there’s one group who have earned a holiday then it’s hard-pressed small business owners, but some still worry about taking time off. Here, then, are a few counter arguments that may help to soothe your fears
• Are you really that busy?
Many businesses have a natural rhythm. Often, the pace slackens off over summer and at Christmas, as clients go away themselves. So book your holidays around those dead times in your business. Don’t feel that you have to stay chained to your desk, in case someone calls, because, more often than not, they won’t.
• Phone a friend.
If a job comes in for when you know you’ll be away (or want to go away), then rather than tell the client that you can’t do it, why not sub-contract it to another freelancer? You can deal with the customer, then brief someone you trust, who you know will do a good job.
It’s always better to tell a customer: “I can’t help you right now, but I know someone who can,” than to say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” That way, the client will be happy and will hopefully give you more business in future, which you can do yourself. And, who knows, your freelance friend may return the favour when they go away?
• Is it time to hire?
If you feel that you’re too busy to take a holiday then that may be an indication that it’s time to think about taking someone on. It’s good to be busy, especially if you’re a one-man band, but if you’re permanently rushed off your feet then it could actually harm your business in one of two ways – you might miss new business opportunities because you don’t have the time to take them or, if you go on working flat out, you’ll burn yourself out before too long.
• Are you the problem?
If you run a business which has employees, but still worry about taking a holiday, then it might be time to think about both your team and your management style. Are you working so hard because you don’t trust a particular employee, to the extent that you’re effectively doing your job and some of theirs as well?
If that’s the case, then you need to think about how to help that person to fulfill their potential. If you conclude that they’re already performing as well as they can, then perhaps they’re not up to the job?
Or it may simply be that you do too much. If you refuse to delegate and insist on taking every decision, then the problem may lie with you. Taking a holiday may do your business good, in the sense that your team may flourish given the added responsibility of running things while you’re away.
So taking a summer holiday won’t necessarily harm your business. If you feel that getting away is the right choice for you, then it’s likely to be right for your business too. In fact, taking a break to recharge your own batteries could re-energise your small firm.