SME owners having to stay in work mode on vacation

Running a small business is more than a job – it’s a 24/7 commitment, and new research by online lender OnDeck highlights the challenges SME owners face trying to take time off from their business.

Only one in two (50 per cent) SME owners have had a holiday in the last six months. Over one in four (26 per cent) haven’t had a break for at least four years. A small minority (six per cent) say they have never taken any time off from their business.

Seven out of ten (70 per cent) SME owners plan to take a holiday in 2019, but among the third who have no intentions of taking a break, 55 per cent say it’s because the business is dependent on them.

Even when SME owners do head off on vacation, the majority stay connected to work. Eight out of ten SME owners check emails daily while on holidays. Only five per cent “never” check their emails while on vacation.

Wellness expert John Fell, Co-owner of RISE Health and Fitness, said it is vitally important for SME owners to take a break from their business.

“It doesn’t need to be a massive break – just taking a long weekend here and there can help owners recharge,” Fell said.

Fell points out that the long hours SME owners devote to their business can have serious health impacts.

“Poor dietary choices and low levels of physical activity are all contributing factors to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. A constant focus on work can even impact personal relationships,” he said.

“The energy of the owner drives the energy of the business. Having structured rules in place around turning off mobile devices and spending time investing in relationships can help SME owners avoid being constantly reactive to work.”

Cameron Poolman, CEO of OnDeck Australia, said the research sheds light on the stresses involved in running a business.

“SME owners are not just the backbone of their business, they have also made a significant investment in the venture so it is not surprising that many are reluctant to step aside – even for short periods,” Poolman said.

“However, the health and well-being of SME owners is often closely linked to the success of their business. If the owner’s light burns out, the business will suffer. This makes it good business practice for SME owners to make time for breaks to relax and recharge.”

Supporting the health and well-being of employees also makes good business sense. Cherie Habashi, Head of People and Culture, OnDeck, said, “The team is the backbone of any business. Employers are realising that team members can also feel the impact of stress, and if not addressed, could have negative consequences on both business performance and individual morale.”

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