With the welcome break of Christmas now only days away, many business owners will have the opportunity to reevaluate their goals for 2018, while enjoying quality family time.

Chances are, even the small time away from your business will offer you the opportunity to reset, reconnect and return to work refreshed, all of which highlights the importance of taking a break.

Despite these clear benefits of time away from business, a survey in 2015 found more than a quarter of small business owners haven’t had a holiday in two years, and half find it difficult to relax even when on leave.

If you’re a business owner nodding yes to either of those findings, here’s why you need to take a break, and the top tips to do it…

Survey says

At the end of 2015, Xero accounting surveyed small business owners and found many struggled to find the time and resources to enjoy time off.

And the reasons many cited for not taking a holiday included:

  • They need to be available at all times as they are the decision maker (42 per cent)  
  • 37 per cent of business owners are unable to take holidays as they are the sole employee of their business  
  • They are just too busy to take holidays (25 per cent)  
  • A third (32 per cent) are unable to relax if they don’t know what’s going on in their  business

The benefits of a break

On the flipside research also tells us how important even a short break can be for rejuvenating, relaxing and reducing stress-related health problems.

It’s also an essential element of the work-life balance business operators should be actively looking to achieve. After all part of the reason you probably started your own business included a vision of attaining the lifestyle you deserve.

Even a short break enables business owners to come at work refreshed, with new ideas, and greater insight into what their operation can do. Meanwhile there are very real benefits of increased productivity.

In a 2006 Ernst & Young research study, the firm found for every extra 10 hours of holiday its employees took, average annual performance ratings rose eight per cent.  

Importantly, business owners should be cultivating a happy workplace where their staff know they’re trusted and see their bosses leading by example when it comes to taking the time they need.

So how do you do it?

Planning for a break from your business

Just like any area of business, an annual holiday requires planning. And this planning may even need to commence months in advance of your intended leave.

1) Change your mindset – Many business operators view a holiday as lost revenue. It’s not – it’s an opportunity to enjoy the lifestyle you have worked so hard to achieve. To ensure you’re not worrying about the finances, establish a holiday as part of your annual financial plan.

2) Staff training – If you have staff, start training them early, allowing them an insight into the role that you do. If you are a business with staff but do not yet have a right-hand person to call on in your absence, this should be a goal you consider meeting in 2018.

3) Systems and procedures – Once you have the staff in place, ensure there are systems and procedures in place that allow them to take on the additional responsibility.

4) Contingency plans – Establish clear contingency plans for who staff and clients should call in the event of an emergency. This should be a trusted member of your team who has been equipped to make decisions on your behalf.

5) Sole operators – If you are a sole operator, notify clients well in advance, and ensure you also allow time to complete any jobs before you go.

6) Notify clients – You will need to notify people, and can do so prior to taking leave in the digital signature of your email. Then set up an “I’m out of the office” response for when you’re away. This should inform clients of when you will be back and who they can contact during the period of your absence.

7) Use technology – With so much of modern workplace technology based in the Cloud, chances are you can check in (IF YOU NEED TO) while you’re away. Feasibly this means you can see daily sales reports, weekly totals, workflows and progress.

8) Checking in – A holiday should be a HOLIDAY, not the opportunity to run your business from afar. If you are planning on checking in, limit how often you do it, keep any calls short, and let your staff know you will be available only at specific times, unless it’s an absolute emergency.

The final word

Taking a holiday should be part of every business owner’s annual plan, but unfortunately it’s one of the first “luxuries” to fall by the wayside in the pursuit of success. The key is to consider a break as an essential business item that allows you to relax, refresh and embrace a new perspective with very real benefits to you and your business.

You can learn more about planning, and establishing the processes and procedures that allow you to take a well-earned break here.