Small Business Owners Need to Make Time for Vacations
Small business owners are a unique breed; to those outside this small circle they can seem strangely focused, immensely passionate and compulsively innovative. For many small business owners, their DNA has been woven into the very existence of the businesses they’ve created. To say they are invested is an understatement, and it shows—it’s tough to tear them away.
Research shows that only 57 percent of small business owners take a vacation of any kind during the year. Of those who do get away, most escape for a week or less. Compare that to the average American worker who takes an average of 10 days of vacation each year, according to a 2013 study done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And if you can pull a small business owner away for some time off, only 15 percent say they completely disengage, meaning most are still checking in at least once a day.
“My phone is always on, even if I go international,” says Charlyn Quiec, DMD, a dentist and owner of Dr. Q Dental in Monrovia, California. “It gives me more peace of mind. Unplugging completely feels unnatural to me. It’s my business, and I want to know everything is OK.” But Dr. Quiec doesn’t have to feel that way. With a few simple strategies in place, even the most diligent and dedicated small business bosses can check out for some vacation time.
Small Businesses Can Benefit When Bosses Take Vacation
Dr. Quiec isn’t alone in how she views her small business, but the value of taking a vacation is undeniable. Here’s why she (and other small business owners) should do it:
- The physical benefits include a reduced risk of heart disease and decreased rates of depression and stress.
- One study found that 34 percent of the respondents reported feeling better about their jobs and more productive after taking a vacation.
- Many executives also say they get their most creative and innovative ideas during their time away from the office.
Making Vacation a Reality for Small Business Owners
But as just about any small business owner knows, wanting time away and being able to get time off are two very different things. So how can you make it happen?
Before you go:
- Select someone to fill in, and offer to do the same. Dr. Quiec has two local providers who can handle her emergency cases. She says, “We help each other, have the same high standard of care and know we won’t steal each other’s patients.”
- Delegate to staff. Make sure your employees know who is handling what and when they may contact you. Dr. Quiec typically closes her office to patients when she leaves town, but her staff uses that time to deep clean and take inventory, tasks that are best saved for times when the office is closed to clients.
- Prepare clients if needed. Help them understand how long you will be gone and whom they can contact with concerns in your absence.
While you’re gone:
- Check out completely. Scientists have shown that when you keep jumping into and out of something, the incomplete nature of the information forces your brain to focus on it. Your brain is literally waiting for you to finish what you’ve started. To recharge and let your brain relax, you need to disengage completely.
- Allow your staff to grow. When you avoid micromanaging from the beach, your team can stretch new leadership and problem-solving muscles.
- Do a systems check. Without your immediate oversight, the systems you’ve put in place will have a chance to run on their own, allowing you to evaluate what’s working and what needs some work.
Once you’re back:
- Call an all-staff meeting to catch up on what was missed.
- Evaluate what worked. What did your time away teach you about your staff and your systems? Consider a reward for those who performed extra duties at a high level.
- Reach out to key clients to let them know you’re back.
Taking a vacation can sometimes seem more like work to a small business owner than work itself. But forcing yourself to find a way to get time away can provide you with quality family time, rest time and time to recharge your creative juices to take on new things when you return.