Going on holiday as a small business owner

Apparently, 76% of small business owners and entrepreneurs don’t go on holiday because they feel they need to stick around for the good of the business.

76% is an utterly ludicrous figure, especially when you consider that time away is vitally important for your long-term mental health and wellbeing. Everybody needs a break, and that’s why 25 holiday days (not including weekends or bank holidays, of course) is the standard in the normal working world. Not only this, but a break and head-space can actually be beneficial and transformative from your business. Sometimes it takes a step back from proceedings in order to evaluate your strategic decisions and plan for the future.

Simply put, holiday deprivation is a bit of a mental problem that needs to be sorted amongst entrepreneurs and small business owners. So, if you feel like you’re nervous about taking a holiday you need or you can’t step back from your business at all, then here are some top tips to address the most common concerns.

 

COMMON CONCERN 1 – You won’t be able to handle your clients whilst on holiday

The first thing to say to this concern is it’s a very black and white approach. When you deconstruct this, it’s essentially saying: “The only way I can handle my clients is to be in my office during working hours – nothing else works.” There is a middle ground to be explored here.

Firstly, your clients won’t mind if you take a week off. Everyone takes holiday, and if they are a normal human being they will understand that!

Secondly, you can do more work either side of your holiday to make up the shortfall. Make extra effort to set everything up before you go, and then make extra effort to make up potential shortfalls when you are back.

Thirdly, trust your other employees. Whilst you might be the best person for the job, it doesn’t mean you are the ONLY person for the job. Coaching your employees to deal with your workload can also help moving forward. As your business grows, your employees will have to take on more responsibility and this will prepare them nicely for that.

Fourthly, we live in a digital world. Everything can be handled remotely. Whilst you should definitely try not to get your laptop out on the beach, there are a number of tools that help you deal with issues automatically. For example, email messages saying that you are away can help direct only the most important emails to your inbox, and leave your team to deal with the less important stuff.

COMMON CONCERN 2 – What if something goes wrong!?

A forewarning to the advice here: You are going to have to trust your employees to deal with problems as they arise in some shape or form. If you don’t trust your employees, they shouldn’t be in your business at all!

Trust can take many different forms. It can be full trust; in that you trust your team to deal with any situation arising without telling you. Or it can simply be trust to keep you informed if there are any issues via email or phone. Having a procedure here is vital. It’s important to let your team know what constitutes a problem big enough to contact you, and how to deal with smaller problems themselves.

Ultimately, you’ve got to consider that the chances of something going very wrong in the week you are away are quite low anyway. If you’re crippled by worry that something will go wrong, you’re not going to relax on holiday and it will turn into an entirely pointless exercise keeping you away from your desk. Firstly, try to put it into perspective and not worry, and secondly, trust your team to deal with crises themselves.

COMMON CONCERN 3 – The business will not move forward if I’m away.

 This is something that may well be impossible to fix, but again, you can put this into perspective.

A couple of weeks without you pitching to clients and creating new leads will not spell the end of the business. Yes, you may feel that you need to keep forward momentum going, but ultimately, you’re going to personally burn out at some stage. Sometimes taking a holiday can mean you perform better personally either side of it. You will work harder beforehand knowing there is a break around the corner, and work harder afterwards when you are refreshed and reinvigorated. The net result is exactly the same, and you’ve taken a holiday!

This is also a great opportunity to put your trust in your team and give them the opportunity to impress you. As with handling your clients, it’s important that the team has some experience in doing tasks with the highest responsibility, because as your business grows you will need to delegate responsibility.

COMMON CONCERN 4 – I just can’t stop working!

Running a small business means you are switched on almost all the time. Sometimes it’s hard to go a weekend without doing some work. Your enthusiasm is constantly bubbling, and you start itching to get some work done.

Alternatively, you may suffer from the freedom paradox. This means when you are given freedom, you feel like you shouldn’t relax by default. It’s like telling a fish it can stop swimming, because constant work has become so normal.

The bottom line: If you don’t find a way to separate yourself from this, you will become unhappy.

Sometimes going to a totally new space can be transformative for this mindset. You might feel like you can’t switch off at home, but you will be able to switch off in a new environment. If you still worry about this, then just make yourself switch off and leave your phone in a draw for a week. That’ll do the trick!

It’s important to remember, even after reading this, that these feelings are common for small business owners. If you feel like you are part of the 76% who feel they cannot take time off, then reflect and reshape can definitely help you! Unlike most other business coaching, the programme focuses on your own personal happiness and improving your own work/life balance. It could certainly help you feel better prepared for a holiday by encouraging you to feel happier with yourself!

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