According to a survey of 430 SME owners, conducted by Honeycomb Strategy and commissioned by online lender OnDeck, running a small business is a 24/7 commitment, with operators struggling to find time for a break.
The research found that only half (50 per cent) of SME owners have had a holiday in the last six months, while over a quarter (26 per cent) haven’t had a break in at least four years, and 6 per cent claiming they have never taken any time off from their business.
Additionally, 30 per cent of SME respondents said they do not plan to take a holiday in 2019, over half of which (55 per cent) stated it was because their business was dependent on them.
The study also found that for those SME owners that do go on holiday, 95 per cent do not switch-off from work, with only 5 per cent stating that they ‘never’ check their emails while on holiday.
Reflecting on the research, John Fell, co-owner of RISE Health and Fitness, encouraged SME operators to give themselves with an opportunity to wind-down, highlighting the negative consequences of prolonged stress.
“It doesn’t need to be a massive break — just taking a long weekend here and there can help owners’ recharge,” he said.
“Poor dietary choices and low levels of physical activity are all contributing factors to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. A constant focus on work can even impact personal relationships.
“The energy of the owner drives the energy of the business. Having structured rules in place around turning off mobile devices and spending time investing in relationships can help SME owners avoid being constantly reactive to work.”
Cameron Poolman, CEO of OnDeck Australia, echoed Mr Fell’s sentiment, but said he wasn’t surprised by the research.
“SME owners are not just the backbone of their business, they have also made a significant investment in the venture, so it is not surprising that many are reluctant to step aside — even for short periods,” he said.
“However, the health and wellbeing of SME owners is often closely linked to the success of their business. If the owner’s light burns out, the business will suffer.
“This makes it good business practice for SME owners to make time for breaks to relax and recharge.”
Drawing from experiences in her own workplace, Cherie Habashi, head of people and culture at OnDeck, said that a renewed focus on wellbeing from SME owners would help improve efficiency across the whole business.
“The team is the backbone of any business. Employers are realising that team members can also feel the impact of stress, and if not addressed, could have negative consequences on both business performance and individual morale,” she said.
“At OnDeck we believe it is important for our team to take time out and have a break from the norm. We invite a masseuse to our office, who provides free 10-minute neck and upper back massages. It’s our way of looking after our team during busier periods.”
Ms Habashi concluded: “We also host regular ‘Lunch & Learn’ sessions addressing issues such as wellness, health and fitness, and even the value of long-distance running.”