Family business tip #7 – “Take Time Away From Work.”

A small survey of business owners in Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts found that 74.5% are planning on taking a vacation this summer, while 23.5% are not taking a vacation, and 2% are still not sure. While this is a small sample, it does signal some improvement over previous summer, when a report released by American Express found that 59 % of business owners took no vacation in the summer of 2010.


Among those reasons cited for not taking a vacation:

  • Staff reduced due to economy. Cannot leave work at this time.
  • Summer is the busiest time of the year and I would prefer to be here. I take my vacation in the Fall or Winter.
  • I’m in construction, we make hay while the sun shines. Especially after the past couple slow years
  • We take very few vacations, occasionally in the spring we may go to Florida to visit my wife’s brother, otherwise we are home bodies!

Why is taking time away from work important?

  • Taking time away from work helps to separate family issues from business issues.
  • Time away from work allows others (family members and employees) to feel empowered and trusted.
  • Vacation time should not be seen as a reward for work completed but a recharging for work (and success) to come.
  • It is estimated that 70-90% of doctor’s visits are stress related and that stress costs the nation more than $300 billion each year. In fact, research shows that those who can’t reduce their stress levels. Take time off, or calm themselves are also those more likely to suffer long term effects from a trauma. They can’t snap back as quickly as those who can ‘calm themselves’ and manage their stress.

Why do some families resist taking time away from work?

  • Owners’ leading concern about taking vacation? By a narrow margin, 33 percent worry an important customer or client will not get good service. That beats 27 percent, who worry they will miss an important new business opportunity, says the AmEx report.There may exist a lack of trust with employees; it’s like leaving your baby with a sitter for the first time.
  • Economy – times are tight, fear of backlash or sending the wrong signal to employees.

What does taking time away from work look like?

Family meetings and retreats:

  • Scheduling family meetings outside of the office or even state. Scheduled meeting time with a set agenda and forum for discussing issue, but also down time to still enjoy each other as family.
  • For college age students, summer time is the perfect time to work in other businesses, explore summer internships and develop new skills.

For vacations:

  • Plan time away ahead of time; prepare employees and family members. Define rules of contact in the event of an emergency.
  • Disconnect yourself. As tempting as it may be to “stay connected” with today’s technology.
  • Entrust the people you put in charge to do what you expect of them.
  • Build up to more time away: It can be an exercise in succession planning to gradually take more and more time away from the office.
  • Have discipline to stay on vacation while on vacation. Do not over plan your time away, but have enough to keep you occupied and your mind off of work.

Some relevant stats:

  • A recent survey of Vermont business owners found that 38% do not plan to take a vacation this summer, opting instead for either winter breaks or long weekends.
  • Busy work schedules (37 %) and affordability (29 %) affect some owners’ hesitancy to take a vacation this summer.
  • Entrepreneurs are less plugged in than they were in 2008, but 68 % still check in every day while on vacation, and 18 percent say they check in several times a day.
  • Rising gasoline costs will affect half of small business owners’ vacation plans, keeping them closer to home or staying home altogether.
  • The uncertain economy is affecting 57 % of small business owners’ vacation plans. Still, 46 percent of small business owners surveyed say they will take a summer vacation this year.

For a video link to this tip, please go to:

2 thoughts on “Family business tip #7 – “Take Time Away From Work.”

  1. Appealing blog post you’ve here. I did a write up myself on this topic some time ago, and I wish I had your piece of content as a learning resource back then. Oh well. Thanks again for this blog.

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