Blackberries on the beach

With the prevalence of smart technology and widespread global internet access, small business owners need to take extra care to properly disconnect during their holiday.

holidayBusiness owners and operators find it incredibly difficult to switch off from work. The concept of work life balance can seem an alien concept with evenings, weekends and holiday time devoted to building an enterprise.

While the freedom to set your own hours is often cited as a reason to go out on your own, that liberty often comes at the expense of knowing what hours you will be working and the ability to disconnect from business at the end of the day. Checking out at the end of the traditional working day is rarely an option, as entrepreneurs often work in isolation or in a small team and cannot rely on a wider team of colleagues to pick up issues that arise when they are out of commission.

Starting a business requires significant investment, both in time and money, so it can seem impossible to take time away from your fledgling enterprise. The theory of starting your own business is often one of freedom and not answering to anyone, however if you are working all hours of the day, you could end up more stressed than when doing the ‘wage slave’ 9-5.

Add in the fact that technology means we can work from anywhere and it is not difficult to see why so many small business owners find it difficult to relax during their holidays. Smartphones are present at the dining table, by the beach, and even in bed as over half of device owners check their phones within five minutes of waking.

Not unplugging to take a dedicated break from work can have a long term detrimental impact on mental health and actually lead to a decrease in productivity. There are hundreds of studies examining the relationship between stress and workplace performance and the findings show that protracted periods of stress are often associated with self-doubt, worry and rumination that can undermine or derail the most capable business owner.

Analysis of over 225 academic studies found employees with positive psychological wellbeing have on average 31% higher productivity; their sales are 37% higher and their creativity is three times higher. Decreasing stress has tangible long-term business benefits, alongside the benefits for an individual’s psychological and physical wellbeing.

Putting down the smartphone on holiday

The benefit of being on holiday is to relax and switch off, not constantly think about work. In order to make sure a holiday doesn’t turn into another shift, there are steps entrepreneurs and small business owners should follow to allow them to switch off.

  • Before going on holiday, complete all urgent and time sensitive tasks. Thinking that you will finish the project on the plane or while on the beach is unrealistic and will make it harder to enjoy your time off
  • For those working in a team, ensure that you hand over any on-going projects so that someone else can respond to queries or concerns in your absence
  • Alert key contacts that you will be out of the office and provide them with another point of contact for any last minute problems or questions
  • If you are unwilling to completely step back from your business, set yourself hours to check your emails and calls
  • Don’t do it halfway – to really switch off log out of your emails and turn off your smartphone

If you find yourself struggling to take a break from work or are under stress, Federation of Small Businesses offers FSB Care, which provides practical information and emotional support to small business owners. Through calls with a personal nurse advisor, therapy and counselling support FSB can provide support for serious health conditions such as stress and depression.

To find out more about FSB’s services, go to: http://www.fsb.org.uk/benefits