How to Take Time Off as a Business Owner


It’ll come as no surprise that a key reason for becoming you own boss is that you’ll be more flexible with time off. You’ll be able to take time off when you want, for as long as you want. Then reality hits and it’s suddenly much harder to get away.

In fact, over half of all small business bosses take just five days of holiday or less according to a 2017 Aldermore SME Future Attitudes report. Even more worryingly, 21% don’t take any time off at all.

Even those who do take time off aren’t necessarily switching off from work. 35% of SME bosses finish off work whilst they are away and 24% are in daily communication with work. 21% end up cancelling time off altogether.

Passion and technology

Small business owners are, by their very nature, passionate about what they do. That passion is what’s enabling them to be successful. It stands to reason that it is therefore hard to leave work behind and take a holiday.

With the capability of technology, it’s now possible to stay in the loop 24-7. Naturally enforced downtime due to lack of or faulty technology is much less of an issue now.

Yet, if we stop to think about it, breaks are needed to sustain the passion. Time off is needed to re-energise, re-focus and simply keep going at the pace that you do. Time off often brings a chance for a new perspective.

How to take time off from your business

The trick is to understand the importance of time off for yourself, and to therefore remove any guilt you may feel. Then take the following approach:-

  1. Plan: Never wait until the last minute to plan your time off. Never wait for the ‘right’ moment. Instead, look at your business in terms of things such as seasonality or future projects, in conjunction with personal circumstances such as family availability. Then decide when the holiday will be and plan towards this. By planning you can minimise the impact of your absence.

  2. Completely take time off: Say to yourself, and plan accordingly, that you will be completely taking time off. That means digital down time too. Don’t take work with you and tell your staff you will not be working while away.

  3. Delegate: Time off provides you with an opportunity to value your staff and to take a holistic view of the business. Work out your key responsibilities and give individuals the guidance and training they need to keep things going. Make it clear who will be responsible for what.

  4. Plan for the worst case: Urgent problems can have a minimal impact on you if you’ve planned for them in advance. Take time to think through what is the worst that could happen in your absence. Work out a strategy for handling this, put it in writing, and hand it over as part of the delegation exercise above.

  5. Emergencies: As part of planning for the worst case scenario, be clear on what constitutes an actual emergency in your business. Don’t assume your staff will have the same understanding. Explain exactly what an emergency is to you and the events in which you expect to be contacted.

  6. Let your clients know: It can be tempting to sneak out hoping your clients don’t notice but this is short-sighted. Most will be supportive of the need to take time off but they won’t be supportive that it was sprung on them without preparation. Tell them about how long you will be gone, how their work will be handled whilst you’re away, and who their point of contact is.