The great Aussie icon, that laconic, unruffled sort of bloke, is not ringing true for a majority of the million plus small business owners in Australia.
Greg Albert, from new business advisory company, Icon Business Solutions, says, “The reality is, our small business owners are stressed, they don’t take holidays and they, their business and their families are suffering as a result.”
Icon, with offices in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, works with business owners and their enterprises, utilising a mix of advising and coaching. Coaching is more personal, going 1:1 with the individual running the business, while advising looks at the business as a whole, helping the owner implement operations and strategies.
One of the problems that Albert sees over and over again is the small business owner running him or herself into the ground because they do not take a break.
“Many small business owners are reluctant to take vacations because they fear that if they’re not minding the business, it will suffer. Fears about what will go wrong during a vacation include a loss of customers, missed opportunities, and looking unresponsive to current clients,” he says.
The irony is that vacations are actually good for business.
“Truly successful people take vacations. They do it because they know they must be able to give 100 percent of themselves while they are working. They also understand that they cannot afford to be tired, dragging, burned out, or crabby with clients and colleagues. Taking a vacation is regarded as an important long-term investment in the success of the business,” Albert says.
He says it may sound simple enough to take a holiday, but he, and the other Icon Advisors in Australia and New Zealand, have to put steps in place that ‘guide’ a business owner towards taking a break. His tips include:
• Schedule your vacations well ahead of time
• Schedule breaks during business downtimes
• Start small and work your way up
• Commit yourself financially
• Combine business and pleasure
• Budget your workload
• Work in brief spurts
• Plan your re-entry
“Scheduling breaks during business downtimes are probably the easiest for a business owner. An accountant, for example, could go in July after the tax season ends; a retailer might pick February after the busy Christmas selling season.”
And if the idea of two weeks away makes a business owner nervous, then start by getting away from the office for a couple of days at a time.
“A series of long weekends can give you a needed break and still keep you available to clients. You then might want to try extending that weekend to Tuesday or Wednesday, and then to an entire week. The idea is to give yourself the confidence that you can be out of the office, and still find your business intact when you return.”
Even with strategies in place, Albert admits that he does have the odd client who just can’t switch off.
“Taking a laptop or mobile phone on holiday with you is not the idea. But working on vacation is better than not taking a vacation at all. If that’s the case, work in short spurts — perhaps a couple of hours early in the morning when you can look at email or respond to pressing phone calls. Then once you’ve taken care of business, you can get back to the business of relaxing.”
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