If you’re a small business owner, you might be wondering if you’ll ever be able to take a holiday again.
Last year, a survey by insurance giant Zurich’s found that only 29% of SME owners had taken a break of 5 days or more in the previous 12 months – and 31% had taken 15 holiday days or fewer. 8% hadn’t taken any holiday at all!
And of course, finances can be a problem. 28% of SME owners responding to a recent poll by the Prompt Payment Directory said they’d had to cancel a family holiday or cut down on social activities because of cashflow problems caused by late payments.
But it’s important to take a break occasionally, so if you can possibly afford it, even the humblest of holidays is worth taking. Here are our six tips for making that holiday happen painlessly.
Book in Advance
You might be tempted to wait until there’s a quiet patch, telling yourself you’ll bag an amazing last-minute deal.
If you do that, you’ll probably spend the last few days in a stressful whirl, trying to finish off business admin while packing and planning for your holiday. Important things are far more likely to get forgotten.
Booking in advance gives you the chance to inform people well ahead of time and ensures you can leave for your break without leaving any loose ends.
Communicate Your Holiday Dates
If going on holiday has to mean your business going on holiday for a week, ensure that customers and suppliers know in advance.
To ensure potential customers are reassured that you’ll be back shortly, put prominent notifications on your website and social media, record a suitable answerphone message and create an out-of-office autoreply for your email.
Nominate a Responsible Person
This is especially important if you have a business premises. Your nominated person should have a spare key in case access is required in an emergency.
You may also want someone to hold the company mobile for you, open your post and assess it for importance – what you ask them to do will very much depend on the nature and location of your business, your relationship with the person you nominate and how much available time they have.
Leave Everything as Safe and Sound as You Can
If there is equipment that can be switched off while you’re away, turn it off. It’s good for safety and great for the planet.
Also ensure that you’ve paid any due invoices and dealt with any customer complaints or issues before you go. There’s nothing more aggravating to a cross customer than an autoreply to their email.
Leave Work Behind
If you don’t feel you can wrench yourself away entirely, at least restrict the times that you check work emails (which should always go to a different account than your own) and messages. A holiday is not a holiday – for you or anyone who goes with you – if you’re frequently distracted or constantly ‘on-call’.
Leave Guilt Behind
Finally, don’t depart reluctantly, stressing over whether you should be having a holiday at all. Everyone needs a break and the chance to reconnect with the people they care about. If you’re a small business owner, that’s unlikely to happen if you just promise yourself a few days at home.
Use your holiday to recharge and refresh yourself. Use any quiet pondering time you have for evaluating your work/life balance and your wellbeing.
You may find that letting your business brain take a break will mean you come back with fresh ideas, alternative strategies and renewed enthusiasm.