Rachel Doughty, founder of One Design, talks to Gill South about taking a holiday while running a business.

I own and run a graphic design company called One Design. We're a small team of six, almost always extremely busy and I'm very much hands-on in both the management of the team and of the work we produce.

Our small and nimble size means our clients can deal directly with me, and being the main point of contact, I am available to them at all times. That does make it hard to switch off completely when I'm on holiday - I usually check in once or twice a day via email, on phone or iPad, to ensure there haven't been any issues (and for peace of mind) and to assist if there has been. I'm lucky enough to have an incredible team who hold the fort and do a remarkable job when I'm not around. I leave my senior designer and project manager in charge, and between them they usually cope with most business demands.

No holidays for the first five years
This was not always the case though. When I started the business 15 years ago, I very rarely escaped from work. It was just me, doing everything myself. For the first five years I was designing almost 24/7 - it was ghastly when I look back at it now. With no holidays, no wonder I was always stressed. In hindsight it would have helped to take on an extra pair of hands or two, earlier. But that felt like a huge and daunting step so I held off as long as I could, until there was just too much work for one person to handle.


Two breaks plus Christmas
Now I try and take at least two decent breaks during the year other than Christmas when we close down for two to three weeks. I try to go overseas for at least ten days each time if possible, usually somewhere tropical so I can really recharge the batteries.

I also spend as many weekends as possible at my mum's holiday place on Onetangi Beach. Waiheke is so close and accessible, yet it feels likes you are miles away from the city. It's idyllic in both summer and winter so it's a great place to relax.

The balance has improved these days, and just as well! I now understand the importance of time-out, physically and mentally. It's like exercise. It makes me much more pleasant to be around, makes work much more enjoyable and most of all, holidays keeps me sane.

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.