Why Do Small Business Owners Not Take Much Time Off?

Small business owners are under a tremendous amount of pressure as they continuously work to keep everything together and running smoothly. That constant stress can wear on the business owner’s physical and mental health. It is vital to take time away from everything, even if just for a few days. It is reported that only 14% of small business owners take a vacation – every two to three years. For some business owners, even taking time off when they are sick is a rarity. Over 60% of small business owners report that they are kept up at night due to concerns for their business.  

Stress directly affects a person’s body, mental health, and behavior towards others. Left unaddressed, stress can lead to many health problems, like heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. Vacation time should not be considered a luxury for small business owners; it is a necessity.

Ironically, one of the main reasons people start their businesses is so they can “be their boss.” However, as a small business owner, you are anything but that. Why do entrepreneurs find it so difficult to take time off from their businesses?

Financial Reasons

When a small business first gets established, vacation plans and time away are one of the first things to go by the wayside. This is the stage of business ownership where finances are the tightest. Even if you can afford a vacation, the priority is usually to save as much money as possible and focus your time and energy on becoming more profitable. Time flies by as you live this cycle, and several years can quickly pass.

Physical Reasons

After your business passes the initial startup phase and starts to become more stable, the reasons for not taking time off change from financial to physical. Your business is starting to grow and turn a profit, but you feel you are still needed to keep things running smoothly.  

Business growth usually leads to the need to start hiring employees and find the perfect management team. Delegation is very hard for small business owners – letting go is very difficult. It can be compared to parents dropping their first child off at college. Even if a new business owner finds the time and money to take time away, it will usually be interrupted by a constant stream of e-mail or phone calls.  

Mental Reasons

Some small business owners still find it difficult to take extended time off even after the new business has reached stability and has started running smoothly. With financial or physical reasons not being the problem anymore, the next challenge faced is mental.  

Many times small business owners feel they get their identity from their business and their daily habits and schedules are so intertwined with the day-to-day operations of the company that even if they can take time off, it can be challenging to check out mentally.  

Fear of the business “falling apart” or major problems occurring while they are gone is another major reason why small business owners have trepidations about taking time off. They fear that they are the only one who is capable of properly handling a disgruntled customer or difficult situation. According to a 2014 report, even if small business owners manage to take a vacation, 55% of them take a phone call daily to stay in contact with their business while they are gone.  Totally “unplugging” can seem nearly impossible for some owners.

Workforce Reasons

The freedom and independence of “being your own boss” usually does not become a reality until the new business has been running for a while and the right blend of management and employees has been achieved. This can often be a complicated task to accomplish. Finding employees that you can trust can sometimes be a lengthy process of elimination.  

Even though it may seem impossible, small business owners need to understand that a healthy business needs a healthy leader. Your business and customers suffer if you are worn down and stressed. Finding some time off may seem like a major task, but as a small business owner, it is very vital for the success of the business.