Why Business Owners Need to Take Breaks (and How They Can Do It)

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Business owners don’t turn off. Even when they’re holidaying on a remote topical island, and it looks like they are “taking a break”, that’s never really true. Their mind is always on something, whether it be a client project, the next invoice or what performance is going to be like in the next quarter. Recent research found that only 5% of SME owners were able to ‘truly’ go on a holiday, with over one in four owners having never taken a break over the past four years from when the study was done.

But taking an actual break – where you truly switch off – may every well be one of the best things you could do not only for your mental health, but for your business. Overwork is inherently tied to health issues such as cardiovascular diseases, lack of sleep and memory loss. The result is you lose focus, dissipate your people skills and make poor judgement calls – resulting in potential business failure.

This is why genuine work-life balance, with the ability to truly switch off and take a real holiday without so much as checking an email, can do so much good for all entrepreneurs.

Why you need a break if you’re an entrepreneur

If you’re running a business, it’s time to take to hit the brakes and pull over. Get your suitcases packed, switch off the phone, kiss a loved one, start dreaming of a paradise and grab a mojito. And we mean actually switch off. Don’t check your work emails every 15 minutes. Here’s why.

Care for yourself, care for your business

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For a lot of entrepreneurs, your business is an emanation of who you are. And this is very true – a business really is only as good as its owner. You want to give your company the very best, but that means you have to be your very best. And if you don’t let yourself get relaxed, your business won’t be getting the real you to your full potential. Is this something you want your business to experience? Of course not.

If you’re always stressed out, you’ll make yourself sick and the business will suffer as a result. You are the heart of your business, and if the heart gets sick, you can imagine what would happen to the rest.

When you’re away, you get new ideas

Getting some time well away from the office, the house, the construction site, or the warehouse (wherever you operate your business from) can help you gain perspective. You might meet another business owner on your holiday who operates completely differently to you, and you may even conclude that they run the business better.

Sometimes, you just gotta get out of the bushes so that you can see the whole forest. In other words, step back and you’ll be able to see the big picture. The founder of Dimmi (now called TheFork) said that he often travelled to Byron Bay “to lock [himself] away for a few weeks to work on [his] next start-up idea. Just lots of yoga, reading, thinking & writing.” The founder of successful men’s fashionwear company MJ Bale said he formulated his plan to get into the industry when travelling throughout Scandinavia. He always “wrote down clothes that inspired” him as well as the business names he saw and the people he met.

You’ll give your staff a chance

If you run a business, you likely have a team of employees who are working behind you. Have you ever thought that perhaps you aren’t getting the best out of them, because you never sat back and let them drive?

Remember, you hired your employees to do a job and because you thought they were good at that job. Let them prove to you how good they are. Stop with the micromanaging, the overbearingness and the breathing down their necks. Give them the confidence they need to succeed, and watch the magic happen.

As your employees grow and take on more responsibilities, you can then develop the confidence to give yourself even more time off. You’ll also free up the time to market your business and get it moving into different directions you haven’t had the time to steer it before.

Your family and friends need you

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Nobody says on their deathbed, “Gee, I wish I worked harder” or “Man, I wish I spent more time at work”. What you do hear a lot is people saying, “I wish I spent more time with my family and the people I cared about”. But despite this, business owners just don’t get enough quality time with their friends and their family.

Remember, your kids (if you have them) aren’t going to stay young forever. Your friends are waiting to go out to lunch with you. Your partner is at home, waiting for you to come back and spend the night together. Your family is waiting eagerly to go on that next holiday. Enrich their lives with your presence, and let them enrich your life with theirs.

You’re a human being

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At the end of the day, you aren’t a superhuman. You’re a regular human just like everybody else. You have needs, wants, guilty pleasures and – importantly – you have limits. The saying ‘how much can a koala bear’ really does apply here. You cannot bear an unlimited amount of work. Accept the fact that you’re mortal, you’re not special and you need to enjoy the good times just like everyone else. Trust us – your company will thank you for it.

How to take your holiday

We’ve convinced you that taking a break is the best thing you can do for your company, especially if you haven’t been on a holiday for quite a long time. So now is the time to saddle up and get to planning your vacation. But how exactly can you do this? We’ll outline exactly how below.

Study your calendar (through a microscope)

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Find a time in your schedule with the least amount of commitment. We’re talking a period of time when the least number of projects are due and when the less amount of meetings occur.

You don’t have to take your holiday in the middle of a multimillion-dollar transaction or a colossal client project. Find a time that suits you best and clear it out completely. Then book your travel, accommodation, activities and everything else you want to do to switch off during that period.

Get your staff ready

Pick someone in your team who you can trust to captain your vessel when you’re away. This is a real opportunity for one of your staff members to show their management potential. If they’re eager, they’ll want the opportunity to take control. This may be a way for them to show you their true potential and – you never know – you may have a shining star working for you that you didn’t even know was a champion.

If you find the employees who are able to effectively do your job while you’re gone, you may even be able to take more breaks and more holidays with your loved ones while you let the others do all the work for you.

Tell all your clients (well in advance)

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If your business is based on client service, tell them that you’re going away from a while – and let them know when you’ll come back. Tell them in advance so they can make adjustments on their end.

Let them know who the point of contact is when you’re away. And also, explain to your new contact what they need to know about a particular client if they are facing an issue you’ve been working on. It would be poor form to leave your client hanging, with nobody in your company informed enough to take the reigns.

If your communicate with your clients in advance, you’ll minimise the chances of either your staff or your clients calling you while you’re on break.

Understand that WiFi (probably) exists where you are

In the event of an emergency, you’ll most likely be able to find some place where internet exists in order to put out whatever fire you have to. Most places around the world do offer a WiFi connection somewhere, so you can feel confident that you have access to the internet if things do unexpectedly go pear shaped. You can even buy your own WiFi dongle in the event you can’t find one in which the place you’re holidaying.

OPTIONAL: Schedule a ‘check in’ time

We know this sounds against what we’ve been trying to establish through this article. That’s why we’ve made this bit optional. If you must, you can schedule 15-20 minutes check-in time at a certain point in a day where you can check emails and keep up to date so that your business isn’t engulfed in flames or shattered into a million pieces in an earthquake of massive proportions.

But make sure you only check your email at that specific time. If you choose to check your emails and respond from 7.15am to 7.35pm, that’s when you should do it. Don’t start a 7.10am or finish at 7.50pm. Be strict with yourself here.

Ready to schedule a holiday?

If you’re ready to book your well-earned break, get started right now. Find a time to go on vacation, and let your staff and employees know as soon as possible!

Change hands over to your employees when the time has come to leave, and (if you can) avoid checking in the whole time that you’re gone.

You will be better – and your business will be better!

Book in a business call with our team today and let’s discuss the future of your company and how we can assist you to reduce your hours working in the business.

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