By Leigh Johnston
Most small business owners think of their businesses as their babies, especially when they love what they do. That’s why it can be so challenging to get away from work – and now there’s new research released highlighting the challenges small and medium enterprise (SME) owners face trying to take time off from their business.
In a survey with 430 SME owners across Australia, online lender OnDeck found that 95 per cent of owners remain in work mode on holiday with eight in 10 checking emails daily while away, and only 5 per cent “never” check their emails while on vacation.
Almost 50 per cent haven’t had a holiday in the last six months and 26 per cent haven’t had one for at least four years.
Seventy per cent of owners plan to take a holiday this year, but even then, 49 per cent expect they will keep working while on holiday.
Chief executive of OnDeck Australia Cameron Poolman said the research shone a light on the stress involved with 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.”
However, Mr Poolman warned owners to take care of themselves because their personal health and wellbeing was 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,” he said.
Employment Relations expert from Employsure, Michael Wilkinson says it is vitally important for SME owners to take a physical and mental break from running their business: “Even a short break can be re-energising.”
Mr Wilkinson points out that the long hours SME owners devote to their business can have serious health impacts. “Signs of burning out include feeling tired all the time, feeling hopeless, loneliness, anger, or feeling unmotivated.”
Too often, small business owners have trouble admitting that they are exhausted. You often hear excuses like: “I don’t have time to get sick. I’ll go on holiday when I retire.”
“The pressures of running a small to medium sized business are having an impact on the mental health and overall wellbeing of business owners.”
While stress, anxiety and depression as it relates to small business is starting to become more widely discussed, Mr Wilkinson says there is certainly room for improvement in the area of supporting and enhancing individual mental wellbeing: “Put yourself first, spend time with loved ones, network and set up your personal support system and learn to take time away without feeling the guilt.”