Q: When and how can I take time away from work as a business owner?
A: Taking time away from work is a crucial component of maintaining your work-life balance. To cultivate this balance, it’s necessary to understand how much time you can safely take, to implement software or systems that will make up for your absence, and to hire people that you can trust to run your business while you’re away.
- Why do business owners hesitate to take time away from work?
- Why is it important to take time away from work?
- How can you properly prepare for time away from work?
Hesitating to take time away from your business is normal.
The process of creating a self-sustaining operation takes a considerable amount of hard work, time, effort, and money. Many entrepreneurs spend so long creating this kind of operation that they don’t even realize they need a vacation.
Funnily enough, having free time and the ability to create a schedule is what draws several business owners to entrepreneurship in the first place.
Skipping out on vacation time is one of the quickest ways to experience burnout, and ultimately does more harm to your business than taking that week off would’ve done originally.
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of running a business, and no one is blaming you for keeping your nose to the grindstone.
However, taking time away from work for mental health, leisure time away from work, or even necessary leaves of absence are key aspects to any functioning business, but more importantly, any functioning person.
In this article, we’ll explore why business owners are so hesitant to take time off and why relinquishing control is so scary. We’ll look at why it’s important to set aside vacation time, and we’ll examine different ways to set your business up so that when you’re taking time away from work, you don’t have to worry.
- Why do small business owners hesitate to take time off?
- Why is it important to give yourself a break?
- How can you properly prepare for time away from your business?
Why Do Business Owners Hesitate to Take Time Off?
If you’ve spent years pouring every ounce of time, effort, money, and hard work you could muster into a business, it stands to reason that you’d be apprehensive about leaving the reigns in another individual’s hands.
That said, giving up those reigns for a week here or a week there is often the best way for your business to continue growing.
So, if you’re one of those incredibly highly motivated entrepreneurs that have never considered taking a vacation, you might be wondering what exactly is time away from work?
The answer is simple; time away from work is just an extended leave from your standard day-to-day obligations.
That could mean a formal vacation, but it includes sick leave and maternity leave, anything that will take you away from your daily duties. Time away from work is paramount to maintaining your work-life balance, your mental health, and by extension, your business too.
Business owners often tell themselves that things at work simply are not stable enough, that if they left the business for even a couple of days, everything would fall apart. More often than not, this isn’t the case.
Hesitating to take time off isn’t crazy, and your unwillingness to leave the day-to-day operations of your business in another individual’s hands is understandable. That being said, as your business grows, it’s important that you as a person grow as well.
In this article, we’ll explore what time away from work is, why it’s so important to take these breaks, and how you can set your business up for success so that when you leave things continue running smoothly.
Keep reading to understand why burnout is so deadly, how to avoid it, and why you, yes you, deserve a vacation!
Why Is It So Important to Take Time Away from Work?
The Mayo Clinic refers to job burnout as a special type of work-related stress that can be identified by physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a feeling of reduced accomplishment, loss of identity, or cynicism towards work that was previously enjoyed.
While burnout itself isn’t technically a medical diagnosis, the fact that even the Mayo Clinic recognizes this issue should lend credence to the idea that taking time away from work is key to protecting your health.
Burnout will make completing daily tasks very difficult, and overworking leads to burnout. Not only does it make your life harder and less enjoyable, but it also could limit your ability to think, be productive, or practice forward thinking.
A major aspect of any successful business is growing and planning for the future, so if you’re struggling with professional burnout, how will your business be able to continue growing?
Allowing yourself a set amount of vacation time, even if it’s just a few days here and there, allows your body and mind the opportunity to reset, decompress, and return to your duties with newfound vigor and appreciation for the business you’ve created.
It’s worth keeping in mind that time away from work doesn’t require a six-hour trip to the beach and a hotel reservation. Sometimes, taking a vacation and staying at home is just what the doctor ordered.
Sure, going to the beach is fun, but if your focus is decompressing and allowing yourself time to recharge, it’s good to do so in an environment you are friendly and familiar with.
Every entrepreneur is different, so staying at home might provide the same benefits for you that traveling provides for a different business owner.
Independently of the numerous health benefits, both personally and professionally, associated with taking time away from work, overworking can also limit business growth by keeping business owners from gaining valuable insight and perspective from others.
If you’ve never taken any meaningful time off, and by extension never allowed another person to see to the day-to-day operations of your business, there’s a big chance you’re missing out on valuable insight that could benefit your business financially or structurally.
Unfortunately, several business owners fall into the trap of micromanaging their businesses.
Again, it’s difficult to blame these entrepreneurs, because starting a business and directing it to success is a long and arduous road, it only makes sense that individuals feel a certain kind of parental attachment to their business.
That being said, this attachment is often unhealthy, and micromanaging your business can keep things stagnant due to no one feeling comfortable enough to share their perspectives.
A successful business is constantly growing and innovative. To cultivate an environment that breeds innovation, it’s necessary to stop looking over each of your employees’ shoulders every moment of every day.
Cutting down on micromanaging will allow you to see just how capable your employees are.
If there’s an employee that’s constantly going above and beyond, the lack of micromanagement will allow you to identify them. Alternatively, if there’s an employee that just isn’t able to get a handle on their work, this approach will allow you to identify them as well.
By eliminating your micromanaging habits, the concept of taking time away from work becomes far more realistic and attainable.
You aren’t lazy for taking time away from work.
All too often, entrepreneurs neglect to take time off of work because they are plagued by the thought that to be truly successful in our society, you must always be working.
Work culture, particularly in the United States, presents itself as an unforgiving meritocracy. A system that will hunt you down if you’ve been lazy and forcibly remove you and your business from the place you’ve carved out in the market.
This simply isn’t the case.
Although there is some evidence that America is an unforgiving meritocracy, the idea that that means you can never take a vacation is comical.
For example, Pew Research Center recently conducted a study to determine whether or not Americans support paid leave, and the results were far from what modern ‘work culture’ would lead an individual to believe.
85% of the individuals surveyed claim that workers should receive paid leave. This is in stark contrast to the commonly pushed narrative that to be successful, you can never stop working.
This statistic wasn’t the only piece of data collected that valued time away from work over the concept of never leaving the grindstone.
More than half of each group surveyed picked the option that valued a leave of absence from work and vacation time over the option feeling that those breaks were unnecessary.
Finally, outside of avoiding burnout and helping your business grow, not taking time away from work is bad for your subjective well-being. If you’re a small business owner especially, chances are high that you built your business because of the promise of more freedom and flexibility.
Taking time away from work is part of being a business owner.
Enjoying the fruits of your labor and unwinding somewhere far away, even if it’s just mentally far away, from the day-to-day operations of your business is your right as an entrepreneur.
If you’re hearing your favorite vacation spot of years past calling your name, but are still unsure about how to make sure your business is set up for success, then keep reading!
How Do You Set Yourself Up for Time Away from Work?
In the course of your business’s life, you’ve likely identified “slow seasons”, or times of year when things aren’t as busy.
Before you start actually setting your business up to prepare for your time away from work, you should pick a few days during your “slow season” for your time off, so that if things don’t go as planned, you aren’t missing out on the business from your most profitable seasons.
Regardless of what your business looks like, we’ll leave a couple of basic guidelines for any entrepreneur looking to take a much-needed vacation.
Analyze Your Business
The first step in preparing to take a step back and take some much-needed vacation time is properly analyzing your business, possibly with the help of someone you can trust.
By getting an unbiased look at the day-to-day operations of your business, you’ll have an easier time determining the appropriate amount of time away from work, and when would be optimal to take such a break.
An excellent way to get this kind of information is by listing the tasks you complete daily, listing the things that can be done ahead of time, and creating a list of individuals that you’d trust to handle the tasks you can’t take care of before leaving.
Not only will this kind of broad audit of your business prepare you for a leave of absence or leisure time away from work, but it also gives you an idea of areas you are either struggling or excelling in.
Even independently of preparing your business for your time off, generating lists and trying to find areas you can streamline or improve will work wonders for the growth of your business and the efficiency of your day-to-day operations.
Set Up Systems/Implement Software
With the near-constant barrage of technical updates and breakthroughs, there’s no reason not to automate as much of your business as possible, especially when you’re planning on taking a break.
For small businesses especially, automation can work wonders while you’re away.
Not only does the internet offer guide upon guide on using software, but paying for automated systems allows you to break your daily duties into easily digestible tasks you can have individual systems handle.
Having a Virtual Receptionist answer the phone while you’re taking time off allows you to provide excellent customer service without having to hire a person to deal with customer relations on an as-needed basis.
Automating email responses is another way to let your customers know that you care and that you’ll handle things when your time off is over.
Outside of these customer relations tools, there is a lot of available software that can be used to streamline everything from bookkeeping to lead generation.
Familiarize yourself with the kinds of software and systems that your business would benefit from.
Similar to regular analysis of your business, getting to know the software that could make your life easier never hurts, and will typically wind up saving you time, money, and effort in the long run.
Time away from work is meant to be just that, and automating some of the tasks you’d waste valuable “you” time completing will allow you to get the most out of your time off.
Hire Good People
Finally, hiring individuals that you can trust to run your business during your time away from work is paramount.
This doesn’t mean you have to exclusively hire individuals that you can fully and unequivocally trust, it just means you should hire people you can trust to handle the day-to-day operations for a little while.
Each employee is an investment. Taking the time to properly vet the people you hire creates a foundation for a workplace that you won’t feel as obligated to micromanage.
Proper training and fair pay will also help cultivate this kind of environment. The goal is to employ people who care about your business and want to see it succeed.
When you’ve got employees who genuinely want the business to prosper, it becomes far easier to give up the reigns for a few days.
Just like the previous methods of setting your business up so you can take time away from work, investing in good hiring practices will pay dividends as your company continues to grow.
Preparing for time away from work doesn’t require doing anything too crazy, because taking time off is something that is expected from any individual.
These three guidelines should lead you to a better understanding of how you can set your business up to run smoothly while you’re gone. By extension, these guidelines are a benefit for anyone hoping to see their business thrive.
Whether it’s for a lengthy sabbatical, a quick stay-at-home vacation, or even a trip to your favorite amusement park, time away from work, as counterintuitive as it is, is a necessity for any well-oiled business.
Take a Break. You’ve Earned It.
Many entrepreneurs get extremely attached to running everything themselves and general micromanagement throughout their businesses. They adopt a zero time away from work policy.
This always-working mentality contributes to burnout and other mental health issues, meaning your business won’t reach a plateau in terms of scope and scale.
Set your business up for success while you take time away from work by implementing a virtual receptionist, properly analyzing your day-to-day operations, and hiring sufficiently trained and trustworthy employees to run things while you’re away.
Remember: time away from work gives you the chance to recharge, physically and emotionally.
- Why Leaders Must Take Time Off: 6 Tips To Get Away
- Job burnout: How to spot it and take action
- LLC for the Digital Entrepreneur: What You Need to Know When Traveling
- Americans Widely Support Paid Family and Medical Leave but Differ Over Specific Policies
- 4 ways to make the most of your time off the clock – without thinking about work
Operating a business isn’t easy, and finding the time to take a vacation or a leave of absence feels impossible sometimes. Regardless of how difficult a task taking time away from work might be, your business and your body will thank you for it.
Alliance Virtual Offices offers several cost-effective services that will help prepare your business for your eventual away time. Whether it’s utilizing a Live Receptionist to help with phones, connecting with your team with a Virtual Phone, or even giving your business a physical address and an added air of legitimacy with a Virtual Office, AVO has the tools to help.
Give us a shout today to see how we can help set your business up, so you can step away.