By Rich Preece, UK VP and Managing Director of Intuit
You’ve probably spent the last two months watching your employees head off on holiday and return to the office with glorious Mediterranean tans or tales of staycations and you must be thinking, if only I had the time! Unsurprisingly, recent research has found that the majority of small business owners don’t take a summer holiday – in fact, a quarter of the UK’s 5.2 million small business owners take less than ten days of annual leave every year. For those that are self-employed, being away from the office / desk, means a reduction in earnings and for small business owners, it’s hard to let go of the reigns, even for a week or two.
While leaving your business behind may seem daunting, downtime is crucial for your own well-being and it can also – believe it or not – be beneficial for your business. As a small business owner you work hard every single day to keep your employees motivated and juggling finances, stock and sales to keep the business up and running. Taking time out of the office to spend quality time with your family and relax allows you not only to return refreshed and reinvigorated but it can also offer valuable time for you to take a step back reflect on your business – what’s working and what’s not? What small changes could you make to make a real difference?
Many business owners think there’s never a right time to take a break. But the truth is you know your business better than anyone, so you can identify when it’s the right time for you to go away and when it’s not. It may not work for everyone in practice but try to give yourself the same holiday allowance as an employee and map out, at the very start of the year, when will be the best time for you to be away from the office. If you’re a retailer and summer holidays are one of your busiest periods, plan to go away in October, or if you’re a butcher and you know the Christmas period is always hectic, take your time off in the first half of the year. For those that are self-employed, plan your holiday around client deadlines or needs and let them know about your time off well in advance.
But not all businesses are seasonal so for some business owners, there will never be a particularly good time to take a holiday. Unfortunately, often this is the unavoidable truth. If this is the case, plotting out time away from the office isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible – you just need to plan carefully, which as a successful business owner, you should already be well versed in. Think about your suppliers and staff, when are other people away and are there particular days in the month when you know you will be needed from a finance perspective for example.
And when you’re on holiday, completely switching off and forgetting about your business is unrealistic but there are measures you can put in place to ease your mind before you go (and to stop you checking your emails on an hourly basis). Having your finances in check is just one of these. At holiday times, staff will be away – but so too will customers so you need to plan ahead to avoid any issues.
There are systems you can implement to ensure necessary admin and finance processes continue whilst you’re away. If you’re worried a supplier might not get paid on time, ensure you’re using tools that allow you to schedule payments in advance and if you have a key invoice due to be paid whilst you’re away, make sure you automate e-invoice reminders so the payment date is not missed. And if you really want to, there are cloud based accounting tools that allow you to see a complete view of your company’s finances at the touch of a button – no matter whether you’re sat in an office in Manchester or on a beach in Mexico.
Finally, going away can also empower your staff. You hired them for a reason, you know they can do the job and do it well so let them take control. Just make sure you fully brief your people and let your customers know who to contact in your absence.
So why wait? Take advantage of the perks that come with being your own boss and book yourself a holiday – it could do you and your business the world of good.