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Unplugging for Success: 5 Tips to Help Business Owners Take Time Off

By Diane Amato

Published July 2, 2024 • 4 Min Read

As a business owner, you know time off can be hard to come by. Still, taking time for yourself can be vital to your health, personal relationships and business.

Why you need a vacation as a business owner

Need a vacation? The answer is likely “yes.” While the idea of taking a vacation this summer might sound nice, it may actually be essential. According to recent research conducted by BDC, the mental health of entrepreneurs has been declining over the past three years. In fact, in their latest survey, BDC found that 45% of Canadian business owners reported mental health challenges, citing inflation and work-life balance as the primary sources of stress.

Stepping away from your business, even temporarily can help you rest and recharge. After all, it’s better to take time away now than to find yourself physically or mentally unwell and be forced to take time off.

Tips for taking time off as a business owner

When you’re running your business – putting out fires, hustling for opportunities and meeting client needs – it may feel impossible to take a vacation. Here are some tips to help you step away:

  • Start planning early

    When you know you’ll take a vacation, you can make a plan. This may mean scheduling client meetings and projects around your days off, ensuring your employees will be available during that period and arranging important shipments and deliveries before or after you’re away. Notifying your clients well in advance is also key.

  • Schedule activities in advance

    Thanks to the many digital tools available, setting up business activities to run while you’re away is easy. For instance, you can schedule social media messages to post on specific dates and times, manage employee shifts with a digital scheduler, set up future-dated bill payments in your online banking application and automate your payroll.

  • Set your employees up for success

    One of the best ways to take time away is to empower your team year-round. When your employees have the knowledge and capacity to run your business without consistent oversight, it’s easier for you to step away. At the same time, appointing a deputy while you’re off can give you extra peace of mind. Having one or two people in charge to manage issues – and who can reach you while you’re away – can help things run smoothly even if something out-of-the-ordinary comes up. And it can help you truly unplug for a while.

  • Create and streamline processes

    As you prepare for your time off, it’s a good opportunity to assess your operations. Can anything run smoother or with less manual work? Invoicing, employee scheduling, content management, customer communication and other processes might be streamlined by cutting out unnecessary steps, using digital tools or simplifying tasks.

The business benefits of taking time away

With distance comes perspective. Many business owners share that they gain clarity by stepping back, while others say they’ve come up with new ideas and solutions when outside the mix of day-to-day operations. Whether it’s a hike in a spectacular landscape, interactions with people of different cultures or downtime at the beach, when you get out of your routine, your mind can clear and think differently.

What’s more, when you step away, you rely on your employees to take care of business. By training them to get the job done without you, you may be creating better engagement and a greater sense of accountability – and you’re allowing them to come up with ideas for boosting business. And those processes you streamlined before you left? They could save you time throughout the year as your business runs more efficiently.

Does your business have a slow season?

If your business is seasonal, maximize your slow season. Beyond taking time for yourself, you can use the lull to catch up on tasks you typically don’t get to. Here are some ideas:

  • Boost your online presence: Test new social media tactics, run digital ads, and optimize your website for SEO. 

  • Connect and partner with a local organization: Community involvement can improve your reputation and visibility.

  • Focus on your staff: Set up training sessions, learn your team’s strengths and areas for improvement, and do something fun to boost engagement.

While many entrepreneurs might consider a vacation a “nice-to-have,” it’s worth considering it an essential part of running a successful business – not to mention being a healthy and productive business owner.

5 minute read: Business owners are on the verge of burnout: 3 warning signs and what to do about it

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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