12 Jul 2012
By Tannette Johnson-Elie
Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of their businesses. They work hard but many fail miserably at planning and taking time off for vacation.
Pressured by a recessionary economy, more and more, small business owners feel they must be constantly working. Many are cancelling or postponing vacation, despite the high degree of stress associated with owning and running a small business.
According to a recent American Express survey, fewer than 50 per cent of entrepreneurs take vacation and for those business owners who do manage to steal a little time for some much-needed R&R, two out of three worry about their companies while they’re away.
Let’s face it, most entrepreneurs put a lot of sweat equity into operating their small business enterprises, and when you’ve worked that hard to build something of your own, it’s hard to hand the reigns off to someone else while you go and lie on a sunny beach in Florida or California.
It’s even tougher for small mom-and-pop shop operators like Helen Kim, who fear their businesses won’t operate smoothly without them.
Kim owns Sunshine Cleaners in Grayslake, Illinois. Known for her precise tailoring and alterations, Kim routinely puts in 12-14 hour days, and has taken a vacation only twice in the 17 years she’s been in the dry-cleaning business.
“I have a lot of things to do. When I take off, I end up being behind on work,” said Kim, from behind the glass counter of her small shop.
Nevertheless, by not taking time off to rest and rejuvenate themselves, experts warn that many small business owners and entrepreneurs literally are killing themselves, while jeopardizing the health of their businesses.
As hard as it may seem, it is possible to take a worry-free vacation and leave your business in capable hands with a little planning and careful thought.
Here are some tips on how to take that worry-free vacation that you deserve:
Plan trips around times when you think business will be slower. The Intuit Small Business Guide to Vacation suggests that entrepreneurs try to anticipate slow business cycles and plan vacation when their key employees will be available.
Plan ahead for your absence. Designate the best person to be in charge and give this individual the power to make decisions in your absence, so they won’t have to call you for every minor issue that comes up.
Empower staff throughout the year. The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), suggests entrepreneurs train their employees to work with customers and vendors and have duties and procedures in place for every possible situation that could arise.
Wrap up projects so you don’t spend time you should be relaxing worrying about unfinished work. That way, you’ll be less tempted to work when you should be enjoying time with your family or friends.
Unplug from social media and email and don’t announce to your friends on Facebook that you’re leaving for vacation. This could set you up for a home invasion as some Internet sites now make it easy for criminals to figure out where you live.
By taking a much-needed break from the hustle of running a business, you’ll return more relaxed and rejuvenated. Once you’re back, you’ll be more energized to tackle the challenges of business ownership. So take a breather and enjoy some down time on the beach or at a nice restaurant. You’ll find it not only beneficial to your overall health and well being, but taking a time to recharge your batteries, also can contribute to the health and vitality of your business.
So, what are your vacation plans this summer?