It’s amazing to me how many business owners I have to order to take a vacation. And when I do, I’m usually met with this sort of reply:
“But I’ve got too much work! It will just come back to bite me when I get back anyway … it’s not worth it!”
Believe me, I understand — it is hard to get away when you own a business. I’m a business owner too. But when I hear owners talk like this, I think it’s time for an “intervention” — they’ve got an unhealthy, abusive, one-sided relationship with their business and they’ve got to get away. NOW!
Taking vacation time doesn’t just mean jetting off to a secluded island (but that does sound good, doesn’t it?). It can be anything that takes you away from the business whether it’s a short car trip or an African safari. The point is getting away. Once you physically get away, then you’ll can mentally get away, which is really what every business owner needs.
“But … but … Brad, you don’t understand!” Yes, I really do. Stay with me here.
Besides the fact that vacations can be fun and relaxing, there are five reasons that you need to get away when you own a business:
1. You need some perspective.
Tony Schwartz wrote in his HBR blog “When you’re running as fast as you can, what you sacrifice is attention to detail, and time to step back, reflect on the big picture, and truly think strategically and long-term.” Not to mention running as fast as you can inflate your own importance. helping you to justify work ahead of family, friends, fun and, well… life. Getting away from your business, no computers, cell phones or anything, can help bring that perspective back.
2. You’re working hard enough.
How many hours did you work last week? Last month? How many hours is enough. There has to be a point where you are doing what can be done and the rest just goes undone. The amazing thing is, when you try it, try leaving things undone, the sky doesn’t fall, the clients don’t leave, your employees keep working. In fact, they often respond positively. You are showing confidence in them and they want you to trust and believe in them.
3. You might be forced to…
Sometimes unforeseen events force you to take a break. I’ve seen business owners who have lost family members, who have had sudden illnesses or who have had tragedies that put them out of the game. Life happens, and if you haven’t “practiced” by taking some breaks on your own, then life’s curve balls have a way of hitting hard. One business owner who recently had surgery that put them out 12 weeks wrote me this:
“Honestly, Brad, this is the absolute worst thing I think I’ve ever been through. It puts so many things into perspective though. Like my company still ran without me. It continues to. That maybe it’s not really ‘all about me.’ It’s humbling a little too.”
4. It will make your business more valuable.
Someday you (or your heirs) may want to sell your business. When you have a few key people who are essential to the success of the business, then the risk of losing them causes buyers to discount the value they will pay for the business. Taking vacations allows you (and your team) to learn how to depend on our systems. It shows you where you are still the only one who knows how to do something. So when you get back you can improve those processes to eliminate the bottlenecks.
5. It will help lighten your load.
When you return from your much-needed vacation, you’ll likely see that your team grew and demonstrated new capabilities. This is when you take things off of your plate and it put it on theirs, something that will benefit you and them. They will appreciate the new responsibilities and the opportunity to expand their roles.
It’s my observation that business owners who are “good” at taking vacations generally have healthy, thriving businesses. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
Photo credit: epSos.de