With only half of all U.S. businesses making it past year five, the pressure on small business owners to survive is astronomical. Between managing employees, customers and finances, finding the time to take a vacation is challenging for small business owners – and it’s only becoming more difficult for them to take the time they need to truly unplug.
A recent survey of small business owners in the U.S. by Xero found that only 14 percent of small business owners say they can completely check out while on vacation, as compared to 54 percent of American workers.
However, while small business owners find it hard to unplug, the majority are taking time to get away – the survey found that the vast majority of business owners (55 percent) clock in at least two weeks of vacation every year. However, the ubiquitous nature of technology today means that even if they are getting away, they’re rarely disconnected. Eighty-five percent of small business owners admit to working while on vacation and, alarmingly, a similar proportion experience work-related stress during what should be a relaxing time.
So what to do as a business owner? The demands of work are evidently inescapable for today’s entrepreneur. But with the right tools and preparation, small business owners can evolve how they think about vacation in today’s connected world.
Top Tips for Unplugging on Vacation
Prepare and set expectations with your teams
For businesses with employees, you’ll be able to disconnect more easily on vacation by planning ahead and setting expectations. Before you fly, check-in with everyone to make sure they have everything you need. Put in a call to your business advisors including your accountant to make sure the numbers are looking good. The last thing you want is your cash flow or inventory to dip into the red while you’re gone.
To stay offline, schedule online time
It may be impractical for many, including parents, to leave your phone at home, but it’s healthy to be able to log out of work-related communication apps where you can during your time off. Designate time periods where you’ll be online during your vacation, whether it be an hour every morning, so you can be available if you’re needed. You might consider telling your employees to contact you via text or call in case of emergencies, or provide an alternate number such as the hotel’s.
When used correctly, cloud technology can be more of a vacation enabler than a vacation blocker. Rather than banning themselves from technology on vacation altogether, many small business owners employ the 80:20 rule – 80 percent of a holiday is leisure and 20 percent is focused on work. By putting all business management tools - finances, accounting and banking - in one place, business owners can spend more time focussing on the bigger picture and less time managing the numbers.
For business owners with employees, technology also enables them to better prepare their staff for their departure and stay connected when they leave. The ability to remain across work activity gives them the reassurance needed to have a more relaxing break, given that they can quickly check-in and ensure things are running smoothly while they’re gone. As a result, business owners remain connected, yet relaxed, knowing that their business will be able to run without them physically being there.
There are a number of strategies well-traveled entrepreneurs can employ in order to enjoy a restful vacation and subsequently take care of their mental health and wellness. At the end of the day, if one of those strategies is leaving your phone behind at the hotel for an afternoon, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Author, Keri Gohman, President, Xero Americas