Summer burnout? Nearly 1 in 10 small business owners haven’t taken a holiday in 5 years

A new survey from Simply Business reveals that almost one in 10 small business owners across the UK haven’t taken a holiday since at least 2014.

With the August bank holiday approaching, the findings point to a real worry that the UK’s self-employed are heading for burnout this summer. Can anything be done to help business owners switch off?

9% of business owners haven’t had a break for five years

We surveyed 500 small- and medium-sized businesses this summer. The aim was to help us understand how the nation’s self-employed balance the pressure of running a business with taking time off.

The results show that they struggle – nearly one in 10 haven’t taken a holiday in five years. Applying this figure to the UK’s 5.7 million small- and medium-sized businesses, there could be over 513,000 business owners who haven’t taken any rest and relaxation in half a decade.

Small- and medium-sized businesses make up 99 per cent of all UK businesses. Not only does struggling to switch off harm business owners’ physical and mental health, it could also cause serious problems for the economy further down the line.

Money worries prevent business owners from going away

It’s not just that business owners are too busy for time off – there are multiple barriers preventing them from taking a break:

  • three in five (62 per cent) told us that potential loss of earnings is the main issue that prevents them from taking time off of work
  • over a third (35 per cent) estimated that taking a holiday costs them at least £2,500 in lost earnings
  • nearly one in ten (8 per cent) estimate they’re losing out on a whopping £5,000 or more for every holiday they take
  • and nearly one in five (19 per cent) also admit to finding holidays stressful because they’re not bringing in any money

The self-employed find it difficult to switch off

The self-employed choose this way of life to be their own boss and direct their own workload, which likely contributes to an inability to switch off – for better or worse.

Our survey reveals that even when small business owners do get to go away, they find it difficult to stop thinking about how their business is doing back home.

A whopping 61 per cent told us they check emails on holiday, while 51 per cent book jobs so they’ve got work when they get back.

And over one in 10 (11 per cent) said that they’re regularly contacted by employees while they’re away, making it impossible to relax.

Some even said that last minute work has forced them to cancel or move an entire holiday.

How to avoid burning out

With small business owners admitting that they struggle to focus and feel stressed after poor-quality time off, we want to help redress the balance. Here are our tips:

  • if you’re worrying about losing out on profits, adjusting your pricing to take into account time off is worth considering
  • depending on the type of business you run, letting your customers or clients know well in advance when you’ll be off – both on your premises and via your website or social media – will help them plan ahead
  • if stopping work over the August bank holiday isn’t a possibility, look at taking time off another day to make up for the shortfall in downtime

How do you avoid burning out? Let us know in the comments below.

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