It’s the height of summer and Canadians everywhere are turning their minds to opportunities for leisure. Whether you’re escaping the heat or heading for even sunnier climes, the summer months are the perfect time to plan for a vacation or other personal time away from work. But many small business owners often feel like they can’t get away and relax because they’re too preoccupied with what’s going on in the day-to-day of their workplace: the increasing pressure to communicate associated with the mobile, cloud-shared and data-driven environment in which we do business makes it even more challenging to shut down that phone and disappear for a while.
According to a study performed by American alternative lender OnDeck,
- Only 57% of small business owners planned to take a vacation in 2014
- Small business owners take very few vacation days – 61% of those planning a vacation will take just one week off per year
- Most don’t unplug from work while on vacation – 67% check in with work at least once per day. Only 15% will disconnect entirely
How can you take time to relax and rebuild without losing grip on your business confidence?
Research suggests that many business owners conceive of their vacation time as needing to be spent in large blocks: the three-week trip to a far-off locale where they are completely unplugged from the world around them. In order to take time off with less potential for stress about what might be going on back home, it is widely encouraged for small business owners to consider taking smaller amounts of time off. It’s easier to plan and prepare for your absence, delegate tasks, and commit to spending a little bit of time monitoring business activity over the course of a shorter time away.
Know the Seasons
If there’s a point in your year when work tends to slow down, that may be your best time to plan a vacation. That might mean you have to rule out some months when work is too demanding – accountants probably shouldn’t take vacation around tax time, for example. But if there’s a logical spot for a break, try to take advantage of it. Be creative and explore new ideas, planning experiences that you may not have otherwise considered during other times of year.
Treat the lead-up to a vacation as an opportunity to do some of the business house-cleaning you may have been putting off. Pay the bills, get up to date with your suppliers, put the pin in big projects, let big customers know who they can contact in your absence, and brief key employees on new responsibilities that they can begin training to take on in the future.
Have a Smooth Landing
It’s important to return to work without losing time bringing yourself back up to speed on important developments. As part of your preparations to return home from vacation, schedule some time to check in and make note of issues that need to be followed up with when you go back to work. With any luck, your time off will refresh you and allow you to project new perspective on business decisions – the first few days back at work should be clear-headed and clear of obstacles to productivity!
Research has shown that small business owners tend to take more vacation days when business health indicators and economic forecasts are trending upward. As small businesses see optimism increase – including such factors as easier access to capital – they are more likely to plan effectively, including taking the time they need for personal reflection and revitalization.