Taking Time Off As An Entreprenuer

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There was a time when vacation really meant vacation, but that no longer seems to be the case. Not only do Americans tend to take less vacation time than any other westernized country, but entrepreneurs take even less time off than anyone. Consider these depressing statistics from the website TravelForSmallBiz:

  • 47% of small-business owners have taken no vacation at all the past year
  • 44% had their families vacation without them, and
  • 41% had not taken a 7-day vacation in two years

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Look, I don’t know how you will do it (actually, I do, see below), but the fact of the matter is you simply have to figure out a way to take time off. Supposedly, you started your own business because you wanted to be your own boss. Then be a good one. Don’t be a jerk. Only jerk bosses don’t give their staff time off.

Now, of course it is also true that taking time off is not easy when you’re and entrepreneur. We typically tend to be a overworked, and understaffed; figuring out how to get away is no easy task. If it were, more people would do it.

But again, you have to. All work and no play not only makes Jack a dull boy, but it also makes him an irritable boss, a poor father, a crummy husband, and a grumpy person. We don’t want to be like Jack.

And let me ask you this: Have you achieved something at work of which to be proud? Do you contribute to the strength and prosperity of our country? Then you owe it to yourself to take Labor Day off, for starters. Why? Because the holiday is made for you, according to the Department of Labor:

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” (DOL.gov.)

I don’t know anyone who works harder and contributes more than America’s small business owners, so here are a few ideas about how to labor less:

1. Planning makes perfect: One of the keys to taking time of when you run a busy business is to plan ahead, well ahead. This not only allows you to adjust your work load accordingly when the time comes, but it also gives you the time to prepare people, and bring in whatever extra people or resources needed so that you can get away.

And, in any case, we all know that it takes a lot of work both before, and after, a trip to successfully get ahead and catch up, so you need to plan in some extra days there as well. Personally, one secret I have is to tell people that I am getting home two or three days later than I actually am, and that way I get a few days of re-entry before the deluge starts again (But please don’t tell anyone my secret.)

2. Use your slow season to your advantage. It makes no sense to try and get away in the summer is that is when your business is busiest. Budget time off for the slow times of year. Also, no one seems to work much the last week of August or December (except your intrepid columnist!), so consider that too.

3. Use technology, if all else fails: I am loathe to tell you that you should plug in when you are trying to tune out, but if 30 minutes a day checking in allows you to get away for a week, who am I to say no? That sort of communication helps many an entrepreneur feel comfortable while getting away.