Q. The experts say taking a break is essential for mental well being and family life- how difficult can this be for small business owners?
Most small businesses depend on their owner’s being there- when they are not nothing happens. The staff look to the owner to solve all the problems and the owner brings in the business. So if the owner is away, sales fall and problems requiring the owner’s attention can’t be fixed until they return. That’s why so many businesses close over Christmas- it is the only time the owner can get away, and their staff must take their leave then as well.
Q. Can you please detail some reasons why small business operators don't take breaks?
Most business owners are micro managers- if they give someone else the work, they mess it up, and the owner spends twice as long fixing things. So that get in the habit of doing most things themselves, and anything they give to staff, they have to look over their shoulder to make sure that things are done they way they want. Even if they only go away for a short time, things don’t get done properly.
This is the owners fault as they don’t have systems in their businesses so their staff can run things when the owner is absent.
Q. From your experience, what are the problems associated with small business owners who do not take breaks and do you believe many do take holidays?
If the owners don’t take breaks, they end up burning themselves out. So most do take breaks, but their businesses do suffer when they are away.
Q. What strategies can be put in place by small business owners to ensure breaks are taken?
If owners put in place systems in their business, they can give much of the work they presently do to others. They also need reporting in their businesses to ensure that the work is being done when they are not there. All big businesses already have systems and reporting in place- or else they would still be small.
Q. Is slowing down the business a good strategy?
If you mean slowing down the business so they can take a break, that’s a cost to the business. So while the store is closed for business, you are still paying rent. If you can keep it open, and have staff properly trained in your systems, you can be making money while you take a break. After all staff get paid when they are on holidays, so why not the boss?
Q. If the owner takes a break, how can that help their business?
There is an old saying that owners need to work on their business rather than in it. When they take a break, they are not faced with the day-to-day pressures of their business. This gives them time to think. Not just about their business, but also their life goals. The break will also allow them to re-energise. Owners tend to come back from breaks with a new ideas and a new enthusiasm to implement them.
Q. What are the top 5 ways to make sure you get the break you deserve.
1. Start to delegate as many tasks as you can to your staff
2. Monitor your staff’s performance and provide training to support them
3. Create reporting systems – what gets measured gets done.
4. Have systems for all tasks in your business
5. Take short breaks before trying to take a long break
Q. Any final thoughts?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Remember all big businesses started as small businesses facing all the problems about taking leave from their business that you are. Everyone of them would have sort advice at some stage. Yes you will have to work to put all this in place, but then, you can take a holiday!
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Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club and is Australia's Leading Advisor on Emerging Businesses and provides Coaching and Consulting advice to Australian Small Business Owners in Marketing & Business Strategies Planning & Systems. He is also the author of The Five Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success.
The Australian Small Business Blog