For many business owners taking time off is easier said than done.
Having a break away from the business can be very difficult – there are no paid holidays, no colleagues to hand work over to and customers and clients who still need looking after!
It is no surprise then that a recent survey conducted by Sage found that more than 30% of business owners do not take a summer holiday!
There are serious consequences to not taking a break
However, as I regularly share with our clients and customers, there are huge downsides for business owners who never take time off – I know from personal experience! I have learnt that whilst you might think that having a break from the business might seem impractical or too expensive for you, the consequences of not taking time out can be far greater.
Research by Nuffield reports that taking a holiday will help reduce stress, can lower blood pressure and improve sleep which, in turn, leads to increased energy levels and better productivity. And I can verify that. In my earlier days of being a business owner I never took breaks – after all how could the business run without me! But I quickly learnt that the medical professionals are right! You need to take regular breaks away from work and recognise the benefits of rest and recuperation for both physical and mental well-being.
I know that you may not be able to take time off over the summer – after all it could be the busiest and, therefore, most profitable time for you – but it is vitally important that you plan some time off in your annual calendar.
How to make it happen
Before you come up with a million and one excuses of why you can’t take a break away from it all, I thought I’d share my top tips to making it happen. I have learnt over the years that it’s all about minimising the impact on your business as much as possible!
If you can, take time off during the quieter times in your business as it makes life a little easier. Maybe summer is a quiet time or work might tail off around Christmas. Spend some time identifying the peaks and troughs in your business and see if you can fit in breaks around those.
Also, think about the times when your key customers or clients are most likely to need you. Ideally, you need to be available to them at these times, after all they’re the ones who pay your bills and, from experience, I’ve learnt not to take holidays during these times if I don’t want to spend half my holiday on the telephone to them!
If you can, arrange for someone to cover your calls while you’re away – there are some great call handling companies out there and they are very cost effective. Knowing that existing and potential customers are being looked after in the interim really does take the pressure off. Having someone tell customers that you’re on holiday and giving the opportunity to leave a message for you on your return is so much better than having customers think you’re just not answering their calls or you’re ignoring their emails!
Keep it under control
And if you do need to keep in contact while you’re away then control the amount of time you spend “working”.
I’ll be perfectly honest here, when I take a break I never switch off from work completely – I always take my laptop with me. However I keep things in control by allocating a half-hour slot per day to check emails and I’ve become very good at limiting any real involvement (unless it’s a crisis!). I personally find this helps me to keep my finger on the pulse and allows me to enjoy my holiday to the full.
At the same time, it gives my key clients the assurance that problems won’t crop up while I’m away, as I am able to act on the urgent queries.
One thing I will say, however, is be aware that public WiFi networks may not be as secure as your normal working environment. For easy tips about computer security check the following UK government’s website: https://www.cyberstreetwise.com/
Until next time, remember …
The time and effort spent in planning for a holiday will only be of benefit to you. You will reap the rewards for the future health of both yourself and your business.