By Daniel Hunter

Three quarters of UK small business owners work throughout their holidays, with almost half spending as much as three hours per day on such tasks, new research has found.

The survey of small business owners, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Xero, revealed that 15% will spend more than half a day working, while 17% take no time off at all.

“As Christmas approaches, small business owners, like anyone else, deserve a break,” said Xero managing director Gary Turner.

“But these results highlight that even during a time like the festive season, it isn’t possible for most of them to switch off altogether, meaning it is essential they make the most of cloud technology to stay up to date when they are away.”

Asked what they hoped to achieve in the next two years and how they balance their commitments with life away from work, there were clear distinctions between the different generations of entrepreneurs.

Older business owners were focused squarely on their bottom line: 71% of those aged 45-54 aim to boost profit, compared to just 35% in the 18-24 age group. Meanwhile, the results hinted younger entrepreneurs likely had a better grip when it came to juggling priorities, with just 17% of 18-24s and 10% of 25-34s feeling like they needed to improve their work-life balance, compared with 39% of 45-54s and 42% of over 55s.

“Annual leave is one of the many employee benefits that small business owners sacrifice, because it could have a detrimental impact on the bottom line,” added Turner.

“Getting a good work-life balance is very tricky, but it’s really important that we all switch off occasionally. It’s a question of balance: if you’re waiting to board a plane, relaxing with a coffee or stuck in a queue, why not log in and check your emails or accounts? On the other hand, when you’re spending time with the family or headed for the beach or ski slopes, I say leave your work behind.”

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