Small business owners can find it difficult to switch off, and many don’t even take an annual summer holiday. However it's important to realise that a healthy business requires a healthy leader. If you're not taking proper care of yourself, and that includes taking an annual break, you're also not taking proper care of your business.
Often if a business owner takes a holiday, many of them will have their smartphone or laptop nearby so they still end up working.
If you work long hours over a continued period you'll end up being less productive. Take a decent holiday and you will come back refreshed, re-energised and refocused—and more able to cope with a busy work environment.
If you're a business owner planning to go on holiday, you should plan it well in advance so problems will be less likely. If you have staff they should all be trained to use your systems.
Good organisation will enable a business to continue to operate or be put on hold while the owner is on holiday. Poor systems and preparation can damage your business and you might create extra work for others. And how can your holiday be relaxing if people are constantly calling you for help?
Good communication with customers is essential. First, let your customers know that you’ll be away—at least six weeks in advance.
The next step is to determine the level of service you will provide. If you're going to be away for a few weeks and have employees, clearly allocate responsibility so that problems can be dealt with if they arise, and agree on a weekly 'call-in' time.
If your systems are good and your staff members have clear instructions, customers shouldn't need to call you while you're on holiday. Otherwise, leave your answering machine on and explain that you're away but will pick up emails and respond to urgent enquiries.
Also set up an out-of-office automatic email reply, telling people when you will return and whom they can contact in your absence if the matter is urgent.
If you don’t have employees, try to find someone who can cover the basics such as calls and emails. Being a sole trader and having someone you trust that can cover some of your work in your absence is invaluable. It's great to have that support if you are on holiday and you could return the favour if they are also a business owner. Find someone you trust and work with them to give you a break.
Even though many small business owners do not go on holidays, most do recognise that breaks are important, and almost all accept that things are unlikely to go wrong while they are away for a short time.
While advising owners to completely forget about their business on holiday isn't realistic, ‘digital detoxing’ is a less drastic step. Access your email once a day so you're not thinking about your business all day. If there is a serious issue, you can make a call to deal with it.
If you're going to the beach for the day or out for dinner, leave your phone in your room, otherwise the temptation will be to check it. If you are spending the entire time constantly