Taking time off: can your business survive your holiday?

The stereotype of the overworked and underpaid business owner or manager is no myth—it is firmly grounded in reality. Lengthy working weeks with little to no respite is the norm. And while many business owners and managers think they can handle the stress and weighty responsibility without a rest, neglecting to take a break from work may actually guarantee the destruction of their businesses.

Holidays are necessary for business owners and managers to maintain a healthy work-life balance. However, more than 30 per cent of UK small business owners don’t take summer holidays, according to research published by business software provider Sage. Additional research by Worldpay suggests that a fifth of small business owners haven’t taken more than a week off in at least 3 years!

This figure takes on new significance when paired with the growing body of anecdotal evidence that suggests taking a break enables owners and managers to bolster their physical and psychological health, leading to more fulfilling relationships. The link between people’s personal and professional lives is strong—a satisfying personal life can often lead to a success in the professional realm. A cathartic, relaxing holiday that drains stress has the potential to lend owners and managers new perspectives, which can translate to tangible gains back at work. Relaxation and detachment often foster creativity and innovation.

Even if business owners and managers do find the time to go on holiday, many remain firmly plugged into their work via phones or laptops. Completely forgetting about business on holiday is usually unrealistic, but experts advise allowing yourself at least one day of digital detox. As a manager or owner, you may be worried that your business will crumble to the ground without you there to support it. Try following this guidance to ensure you get the break you deserve:

• Implement systems to ensure necessary processes continue while you are gone—make sure cash keeps flowing and key suppliers and staff will still be paid.
• Alert customers, staff and suppliers of your holiday at least six weeks in advance—provide alternate contact information to minimise impact.
• Schedule a ‘call-in’ time with your employees so they can ask you questions and bring problems to your attention rather than calling you every time something comes up.

Most importantly, relax and enjoy your holiday!