Among the findings from 234 small business owner/presidents were:
- 41% had not taken a vacation of more than seven days in the past two years.
- 33% had not taken a vacation in two years.
- 47% said they did not expect to take a vacation this year.
- 31% had not been abroad in three years.
- 41% said their business suffered when they were on vacation.
- 44% said their families had taken vacations without them.
With summer approaching, many small business managers may be thinking about taking a break, but few do.
“For better or for worse, small business owners tend to only know one season: the work season,” Evan Carmichael, a consultant to small firms says. “You would be hard pressed to find an entrepreneur who has taken a real vacation in the past few years.”
Whether it is due to a fear of losing ground to their competitors or because there is simply no one else to run the show while they are gone, more and more entrepreneurs are putting their own personal rest and relaxation on the backburner.
“It becomes so easy to say, ‘Just one more year – I’ll just work for one more year and then I’ll finally be able to take a break,’” says Carmichael, “But, that year never ends.”
Carmichael, a Canadian points out that his fellow citizens are actually taking less vacation time than in the past.
He ascribes this trend in large part by the growing number of Canadian entrepreneurs.
For small business managers on both sides of the border, Carmichael has some suggestions:
- Take short weekend retreats where you make sure to turn off your cell phone and leave your laptop at home.
- Strike up a deal with a fellow entrepreneur in a similar field to pinch-hit for each other for a few days when the other is away.
- If you cannot fathom the idea of being gone, try to turn a holiday into a business affair.
- Vacations abroad could also be a good opportunity to scout out potential new clients and markets.
“Company retreats or weekend barbeques are becoming increasingly popular,” says Carmichael. “While they allow for some down time, they are both still great ways to network and keep the ball rolling.”
A recent study by Expedia.ca and Ipsos Reid found that the number of vacation days that Canadian workers take on average went down from 21 to 19 last year. This puts Canada just behind Australia and the U.S., where workers take an average of 14 vacation days, the fewest in the world.
It is a trend in both countries that is worrying many like Carmichael, who see it as a bad sign for business as well.
“When people take vacations, they come back to their jobs rejuvenated and motivated,” he says. “Entrepreneurs need to find creative ways to take a break from their business, or it too will begin to suffer the consequences.”
But no matter where you decide to go, or what you decide to do, suggests Carmichael, you need to first realize that you are not indispensable. “Get your business in order, have your policies clearly written out, and train your employees so that you will be able to take the time off you need to unwind,” he says. “Bringing that balance will, in fact, benefit your business in the end.”
Evan Carmichael may be reached at www.evancarmichael.com.