Why Business Owners Should Take a Break & How to Do It

Give Yourself a Break! It’s Just Good Business.

According to this OnDeck study, only 57% of small business owners take a vacation during the year.

If there is one thing in this world that I am certain of it is that business owners never truly turn off. You may look like you’re “taking a break” or “on vacation,” but every family member of a business owner knows better than to believe that facade. (Trust me, I’m married to one.) But what if I told you that taking a break, a real break, as in you really don’t think about work, whether it be for an afternoon, a few days, or even a couple of weeks, could be the best thing for your business and your health.

This HBR article points to a study that shows that overworking yourself leads to several health issues including lack of sleep, impaired memory, and heart disease. And negatively affects the bottom line from loss of focus, reduction of interpersonal skills, and impaired judgement calls.

Here are three reasons to give yourself a break, if the above didn’t convince you yet.

1) Taking care of yourself is taking care of your business:

Your business is only as good as you are. If you don’t let yourself relax once in awhile, you’re not doing what’s best for your bottom line. I have a travel addiction, so I force my business-owner-husband to go on vacation for at least a couple weeks a year. Before we met, he had not taken a real vacation in ten years! I do all the planning, but he shows up, generally enjoys himself, and he has said (to my face) that having a break helps him run his business better the rest of the year. (Not to take all the credit for his success, but in the 4+ years we’ve been together his business has grown over 200%. 😉 )

2) Distance creates perspective:

Getting away allows you to get out of the weeds and gain some perspective. Meeting new people, experiencing new things, and just getting some time to think will give you some much-needed distance from your business.

3) Enjoy quality time with your friends or family:

It’s no longer a secret that spending quality time with your friends & family is important, and business owners definitely don’t get enough of it. If anything, you deserve some time to sit back, relax and enjoy the people around you who make life worth living.

Now that we’ve established it’s better for you and your business to take a vacation. Here are five steps to prepare your business for your well-deserved break.

1) Look at your calendar:

We know that summer may be your busy season. Find a time in your schedule that has the least amount of deliverables due, meetings, etc. Carve out those dates and book the time you need to get away

2) Prepare your employees:

Select someone you trust to man the ship in your absence. Your vacation is an opportunity for a team member to step up and take the reigns. They’ll want it, and they won’t want to let you down. It may even pave the way for a rising star to come out of the woodwork.  Make sure that person left in charge knows what decisions they are allowed to make and what needs to wait until you return. Finally, that person should know where you are and how to reach you, in case of an emergency.

In a previous job, I was put in charge when the boss went out of town and while he was flying one of the employees and the primary stakeholder of a project due the next day quit. Without being able to reach him, I had to step up, deal with the situation, and make real decisions to push the project forward. It went off without a hitch! My boss (and I) recognized that I could handle the pressure and more responsibility.

3) Let your clients know in advance:

If you have a client based business, let them know you’re leaving and when you’ll be back. Make sure they know who to contact in your absence and explain to that person what they need to know about any current issues clients are facing.

4) WiFi exists everywhere:

Even when I was backpacking through rural India, in the summer of 2008, internet access was available everywhere. (Even though I told my parents that it wasn’t… sorry Mom and Dad.) So I doubt in 2017, there are many places left in the world where you can’t get online if you need to.  If there is an emergency, you’ll be able to get in touch and address the issue.

5) Schedule your check-in time:

I know what I’m about to say is counter-intuitive to everything else I’ve said in this article. But if you or your business owner family member is anything like my husband, 15 minutes of checking your email in the evening will keep you up to date on any issues and give you peace of mind that your business isn’t burning to the ground without you there. Pick an agreed upon time of day and time limit of checking-in before you leave on your trip to avoid any squabbles during your vacation.

P.S. I’ll keep you posted on how successful our vacation next month is. (update: It was incredible!)