When was the last time you felt hot sand on the soles of your feet? Or an alpine wind biting your cheeks? If you are a micro-business owner, chances are it was way too long ago. However, failure to take time out could be harming your health, your relationships and your business.
It’s no secret that many of the UK’s small business owners are reluctant to take a summer holiday or simply forget to – and the smaller the business, the bigger the problem.
You know you should take a break. As a micro-business owner or freelancer, chances are you clock way more work hours than most across the course of a year, but if anything you need a working week given to you, not taken away. Clients are depending on you. You need to keep cash flow ticking over. Your business depends heavily – if not exclusively – on your input and there’s no one to cover you.
Time to ditch the desk for the departure gate. Or at least take a holiday at home if you are watching your money.
Here’s how it will benefit your business:
Getting away from it all rekindles your depleted batteries. Many people return from a sunny sojourn with more clarity; more energy; more resilience.You see, nobody can work at full- tilt indefinitely. Relentlessly pulling long hours might make you feel like you are getting things done, but burning the candle at both ends actually stifles productivity. That can trigger a vicious cycle where you have to toil longer and longer to complete the same amount of good quality work. Unless you know something about the human brain that no-one else does, you will burnout eventually.A poolside piña colada is the perfect tonic. While you’re supping, hoik your smartphone into the deep end. Okay, maybe not, but at the very least stop your business email account from automatically updating on your phone. If you are anxiously checking your inbox every five minutes, there’s no point being away.
Working too much is bad for you: psychologically and physically.As a micro-business owner there is often nobody who thanks you for staying late. It’s easy to become – whisper it – a bit resentful at the workload you continue to shoulder, while others on the clock-in-clock-out merry-go-round jet off twice a year. Then there’s the stress reared by a work-life balance that’s permanently out of whack – and stress can manifest itself through a multitude of physical ailments. Some serious, some less so.
A holiday is your time to decompress, de-stress and bring yourself back to tip-top form. Bobble about in the sea. Hit the golf course. Take in some historic sites. You will return to work refreshed, refocused and ready for anything.
Less P&L, more TLC.
Humans are social creatures. Whether it’s a glass of wine with your partner or a meal out with your best friends, your brain craves human interaction. It just doesn’t feel that way after the third 14-hour day on the spin.Several studies have suggested an association between strong relationships and business success. Going on holiday with your nearest and dearest – or spending a week catching up at home – helps you reconnect and sate your brain’s social cravings.
Imagine yourself strolling around an art gallery. Plenty of beautiful art pieces to take in. What happens if you stand too close to the canvas? That work of art becomes nothing more than an indecipherable blur of colours.Sometimes you need to take a step back to get perspective. Getting away from work will help you separate the issues that matter from the trivial things that don’t and you can come back ready to knock spots off your competitors.
Plotting your escape isn’t easy. But don’t pretend it’s impossible.
Arranging a holiday is more complicated as a micro-business owner. It takes canny planning. The good news is that as a micro-business owner, your planning muscles are probably pretty darn brawny.
Schedule your holiday as far in advance as possible to ensure your small business remains productive all summer long. If you have staff, it gives you time to make sure everyone understands what their responsibilities will be while you are away. Your staff should be in a position to keep the ship afloat independently in your absence, contacting you only if there is an emergency.
Give your clients a minimum of six week’s notice regarding the dates you will be away. Try to build up a head of steam on any recurring duties to tide your regular clients over while you are gone. As for cash flow, pay any invoices that will be due while you are away . (being hounded by suppliers isn’t relaxing, poolside or otherwise.)
Last job before you leave? Set an email autoresponder explaining that you are taking a break. The same applies with your voicemail greeting on any work phones. State when you will return and – if applicable – the contact details of anyone who can field enquiries in your absence. You could even hire a temporary virtual receptionist.
So what are you waiting for? Time to dig out those swimmies and take to the skies.
Your business needs it just as much as you do.
Tamsin Fox-Davies, Senior Development Manager, Constant Contact UK.