Small business owners are often the first to change or cancel holiday plans because of business concerns.
For those in professional services, end of financial year can be one of the busiest times of year, while retailers look towards the Christmas sales period as their window of opportunity to make hay. Either way, these peak periods tend to coincide with prime vacation opportunities, leaving operators to choose between their business’s health and their own mental wellbeing.
But with adequate planning and know-how, there’s no reason for sacrifices to be made in either direction.
When was the last time you took a decent break?
In a 2014 article by co-founder and CEO of AllenWargent, Pete Wargent sums up the benefits of taking a holiday with the ‘three Rs’ of rest, rejuvenation and revitalisaton.
‘Operating a small business can be an all-encompassing experience and may result in premature burnout if you do not make room in your life for relaxation,’ Wargent wrote.
‘Research has shown that a genuine break from business has benefits for health, personal relationships and wellbeing, while business owners who seldom take even short sabbaticals have been found, on average, to be more dissatisfied with their lives.’
So, when was the last time you had a holiday? If you’ve not had time off from your business in over 12 months, it’s time you start planning to do so.
‘All successful business ventures require planning and perspective, and a sojourn provides self-employed persons and small business owners the ideal scope to benefit from both,’ Wargent wrote.‘Being removed from your business allows you to see with more clarity what changes need to be made or implemented in your strategy and processes.’
Tips for planning your next big break
The dream of taking a relaxing holiday is easily shattered by the anxiety that arises from stepping away from operating your business, even if it’s only for a limited period.
Having worked with small businesses throughout Australia and New Zealand, we at MYOB have developed deep insight into what successful operators do to manage their downtime. To help guide you through what can be a stressful process, we’ve developed the following guide.
1. Plan in advance – book your holiday at least six months in advance in order to get all your preparation sorted and also to ensure all staff, suppliers and other stakeholders are adequately warned of the time you plan to be out of reach. No doubt your staff may also be considering a break at a similar time, so be sure to ascertain if they have firm plans already in place.
2. Consider closing – if your vacation is planned during a major holiday period (say, between Christmas and New Year’s) it may make sense to close your business for at least some of the period you’re away. Be warned, this may require additional plans and communications for clients, customers, suppliers and staff.
3. Contingency planning – if your business will remain in operation while you’re away, you need to consider how available you are likely to be during that time, and to make sure you have the right team in place to manage things when you’re offline. It may be pertinent to make an additional hire or two even if they’re temporary resources. (This can also be a great way of testing out new talent in your business).
4. Pre-plan and automate as much as possible – Talk to your bookkeeper and accountant for advice on whether any elements of your finances could be improved with better software management. Things like pay, Christmas bonuses, supplier invoices and other bills can be forecast and paid out while you’re away.
If ever there was a call for making sure your business has streamlined processes supported by best-of-breed systems, it’s surely so that you can have peace of mind while sipping daquiris on a beach somewhere (or powering along an alpine trail, perhaps – whatever works for you).
So what are you waiting for? We’ve just started Q3, which means your next big holiday is practically around the corner.