Taking time out from your small business

In this guide, FreeAgent partner Company Bug explains why it's so important to take time out from your busy schedule when you're self-employed and how to take that much needed time off.

If you are self-employed then you may feel like time isn’t on your side, and it’s tricky to take time out from your small business. You might even feel that you can’t afford to have time off, or you’re worried about losing clients while you’re away. However, it’s vital for your health and your mind to take time out and away from your work, and this will inevitably benefit you and your business in the long run.

If you’re not able to delegate or ask for help from employees or partners, then it’s a great idea to prioritise and get organised so you are able to take time out when necessary. Let’s take a look at the top five reasons why you really do need to take time out.

Reasons to take time out from your small business

1. Look after your mental health and wellbeing

It’s so important to be proactive in taking care of yourself both physically and mentally. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) even started a campaign to combat mental health issues amongst small business owners.

There are a few straightforward ways to improve your wellbeing. For example, making time for exercise, whether this is half an hour in the gym or just going for a long walk. Ensuring that you are physically active will help to improve your mood as well as release any stress. Try to make sure that you are taking short breaks regularly throughout the day - taking a couple of minutes to get fresh air, or a cold glass of water can help with your productivity. Lastly, if you can, booking holidays or longer periods of time off can really help you relax and recover.

2. Spend time with family and friends

Running a business, especially in the hectic early days or at peak time, can mean you probably don’t see your loved ones as much as you’d like. Taking a break from work allows you to reconnect and re-engage with your family and friends, and investing in supportive relationships is as important as investing in your own health. Take some time to read up on tips to create a good work/life balance, and don’t be afraid to ask those around you for help when you need it - someone may be to give you a hand with your workload or provide good advice.

3. Indulge your passions and hobbies

Taking time out from your small business for activities you enjoy doesn’t need to be a daily occurrence; however, occasionally you should take time out to do something you love, whether this is going on a fishing trip or playing your favourite sport.

It’s important to realise that there is more to life than just your business. Although it is of course essential for you to work on your business, from starting it up to growing it, you do also need a healthy mind and a thought process which is not overstressed or overworked.

4. Make sleep a priority

Establishing a sleeping pattern and making sure that you get good quality sleep is incredibly important in order for you to function properly. Many people don’t see sleep as a priority, but regular poor quality sleep can have a huge effect on your health and put you at risk of developing medical conditions that can affect your body, thoughts, emotions and behaviour. Getting good quality sleep gives you vital energy and allows your brain to rest and recuperate, ultimately making you more productive. It also allows your mind to unwind and de-stress, helping your mental and emotional wellbeing to be restored. Try clocking out and putting all work aside to have a certain time to switch off and unwind before you go to sleep.

5. Avoid a burnout

A burnout is thought to result from long-term, unresolvable job stress and leads to physical and emotional exhaustion. Signs of heading for a burnout include a lack of motivation and feel disillusioned with your career. Left unchecked a burnout can impact your health, happiness and job performance, all of which puts your business at risk, so if you recognise any of the signs then take steps to rebalance your work/life balance and seek help if you need it.

How to take time out from your small business

Although the reasons are convincing, taking time off is often easier said than done. To help you on the way to enjoying a well deserved break, here are a few things you can do.

Prepare in advance

If you own a small business with staff, then ideally you will have a well-trained team member that can run the business on your behalf for short periods of time.

If you work alone then organisation is key. Tell your clients and customers in advance (ideally six weeks beforehand) if you’re taking time off to make sure you keep a good relationship and let them make other arrangements while you’re away if needed.

Outsource work

If you don’t have staff to run the business while you are away you may also be able to outsource some of your work, for instance, you can pay to use a professional business answering service. Or if you work with an accountant they may also be able to offer you support while you are away, with responsibilities such as invoicing and credit control.

Set holiday work boundaries

Completely forgetting your business while you take longer breaks is perhaps unrealistic for some, especially with modern technology at our fingertips. So if you are going to pick up work while you are away, then you should try assigning certain times of day to deal with any business matters. For example, you might set aside an hour in the evening before you go for dinner to deal with any issues then leave your phone when you head out so you aren’t tempted to check it again. Alternatively, you might get up early and get anything urgent done first thing, so you can enjoy the day ahead without worrying about your business.

Automate certain tasks

Using an automatic email responder will also remind customers that you are away and that they shouldn’t expect an instant reply. As well as automating email responses, you might consider automating some of your other tasks. For example, you can schedule social media posts using tools such Hootsuite, or send automated invoice reminders using accounting software like FreeAgent.

The importance of taking time out is clear, it benefits your business just as much as your personal life and there’s no reason why small business owners can’t take some time for themselves. Get organised, outsource work if you need to, put clear procedures in place and plan longer breaks well in advance. Set aside some time each day to switch off, get your work-life balance in check and reap the rewards!

About Company Bug

Company Bug provides small business owners, entrepreneurs, contractors and consultants with all the information they need to set up and run a business in the UK. This includes latest news and insights into relevant economic issues and legislation changes. Whether you are looking to launch your own startup, franchise, or grow your business – Company Bug has all the tips you need to succeed.