Simon O'Shaughnessy, CEO coach and founder of Carista, whose aim as a mentor is to empower possibilities for people and business, talks to Gill South about how small biz owners can take a break.
I owned my own business in the UK, a spa chain which was experiencing phenomenal growth, we were going like a rocket. At a time when we were really busy, with 17 or 18 people working full tilt, I went on holiday for two and a half weeks. The staff made it a point of honour not to ring me.
I was lucky, I had a number two, who took over my office while I was away. When I got back they didn't given me my office back, I was given a desk out in the floor.
They said to me: "We can do it, we don't need you to be here all the time any longer." I paused for a minute, sat down at my new desk and worked there for six months.
The result of that was I sold the business. It was ready to be sold. It had been a very empowering experience for the employees.
It's about delegation - a lot of people, business owners, can't do it, they are so stuck, rightly so at the beginning. When you give up control, you allow others to make messes. When control was taken from me, it was the best thing that ever happened to me.
What I am seeing at the moment is people going to bed with their phones to check that they are not missing anything. Effectively they are wearing themselves out, stressing the body system. They make poor decisions and get sick because they are always 'on'. I don't think that suits us as human beings. I'm seeing it's not uncommon for people to be doing 14 hour days. Plus then Saturdays and Sunday afternoons. Work has slipped into the bastion of the weekend.
I'm not sure its profitable work and it's at high personal cost.
From my experience, the real problem of being an entrepreneur is the fact that you are always 'on'. Demand is such now that you've got to be 'on': quoting, doing the finances, marketing, staff, planning and sales.
When you are a two man company, taking three weeks off in the summer is a joke. The only saving grace for NZ is we all get from Christmas to January 14 off because there is not a lot to be done.
While taking holidays is not that realistic for an entrepreneur of a small business. The sensible ones sit down with their spouse and form a contract: what this means to take this on, and are we up for it? Those that do that, with the attitude that 'we' are doing this, gain the support of the whole team, and those who don't do that often get into trouble.
When you do take a holiday, I don't advocate doing nothing and sitting in a deck chair at the beach. Most entrepreneurs would go nuts! The best holiday I ever had was travelling in South America, every day was different. Change is as good as a rest, as they say.
Another thing I do is teach entrepreneurs to take five minutes at the end of the day and reflect on what the day was about. Its reflection to learn, instead of just doing things habitually: How did the day go, what were the opportunities and challenges, what did I learn about myself, what would I do differently, and who should I touch base with? This five minutes gives you time to reboot, and learn to make tomorrow better.
I'm taking a week off this week, I'm making sure that I am clearing the calendar. We are staying home, and I'm putting the phones and computers all down in my study, keeping it all out of the way.
I don't trust myself to have them near me and I use a Kindle because I can't get emails from it.
What is the benefit of owning rather than leasing your premises as a small business? What freedom does it give you? It must be nice knowing the landlord is never going to put the rent up. Yet is it core to your business? Email me, Gill South at the link below or here.