Sound familiar? Do you feel you can’t take time off without damaging your business? Well, you’re not alone. Nearly one in 10 SME owners in the UK hasn’t taken a holiday since 2014, according to a survey by Simply Business*. That’s at least five years without a proper break. Half a decade!
In separate research, Direct Line** also found that SME decision makers take an average of just 13 days annual leave a year, with almost 1.5 million not having a single day off in the previous 12 months.
Even when you do get away, you’re not fully switching off. Instead, you’re checking emails (61%), booking in work for when you get back (51%), and answering calls from your employees (11%)*.Many are cancelling or cutting short three days of annual leave a year due to work commitments too**.
So why do so many SME owners never take a break? Do you really have to be ever-present in your business for it to succeed? At Strategic Coach, not only do we know you don’t, we’re living proof that taking regular time out—or Free Days, as we call them—actually leads to bigger successes.
‘Free Days’ are good for your business.
Entrepreneurial people tend to be highly self-reliant, believing that you only get out what you put in. Naturally then, if you’re not working at full capacity, you can’t be achieving your full potential.
But this approach is missing a vital element: your people. As Strategic Coach founder Dan Sullivan says, ‘You don’t know how good your team is until you leave’. It’s only when you take Free Days that your people get to prove themselves. Leaving them to get on with their work, without micromanaging, means they can problem solve and handle any issues themselves. They’ll feel empowered by this and more valued by you. They’ll be more engaged with your business aims, and you’ll find out just how capable they are.
Of course, taking Free Days is about your rejuvenation too. Getting away and disconnecting completely actually helps you to focus when you return. You’ll be able to think more clearly and creatively. And you’ll return with lots of new ideas and renewed vigour.
‘I take about 150 days off a year, along with Babs Smith, my partner in business and life’, says Dan. ‘On our Free Days, we aren’t involved in the business at all. No checking in by phone, no email, no business reading. Instead, we do the things that not only rejuvenate us, but ensure that we have a well-rounded life.’
Put Free Days first.
At Strategic Coach, we have created an ‘Entrepreneurial Time System’, designed specifically for business owners. It’s made up of three types of days: Free Days for rejuvenation; Focus Days, which are centred on money-making activities; and Buffer Days for preparation. Notice that Free Days come first in this line-up. That’s because, at Strategic Coach, we don’t see time away from work as a reward; we see it as a necessary precondition for success.
*Simply Business, August 2019
**Direct Line, July 2018