Here’s a wellness question most small business owners never thought about at all in 2012: Did you give yourself enough time to recharge? In other words, did you take a real vacation?
According to an American Express survey of 500 small business owners, 59 percent did not take a vacation last summer. And of those who did, 68 percent said they checked in every day.
That’s not a vacation. It’s just temporarily moving your “office” to a remote location.
Many business owners can come up with plenty of reasons why they can’t afford to get away from their businesses for an extended length of time. They worry that important customers won’t get good service and will leave for a competitor. Or that they’ll miss opportunities to pick up new business. And what would happen if there is a crisis?
Besides, vacations are for sissies, right? Wrong. They’re one of the best things you can do, not just for your personal health but also for your company.
Here are five reasons why you should make taking a vacation a priority on your schedule:
■ Avoid burnout. If your mind is fried and you’re running on fumes, your body and your business will pay the price. Debra Condren, who has a Ph.D. in psychology and owns a New York executive coaching firm, notes in a New York Times article “If you don’t get a break, you’re going to burn out, and you’ll never achieve the level of success you’re aiming for.” But if you do take a breather, she says you’re likely to return refreshed and better able to run your business.
■ Allow your employees to grow. Do you micro-manage? Are your senior-level employees comfortable making decisions on their own knowing they won’t be second-guessed? Preparing and giving them more responsibilities while you’re gone will give them confidence and added skills to benefit your company.
■ Clear your mind. Veteran entrepreneur Norm Brodsky writes in Inc. magazine “I would come back from a vacation feeling rejuvenated and able to take a fresh, uncluttered view of the business. I could see issues and problems with a clarity I hadn’t had before.”
■ Gain perspective on your business — and your life. It’s easy to get so caught up in the day-to-day fire fights that you can’t see the forest from the trees. Getting away enables you to step back and think about what you’re doing and what really matters to you and your business. As an added bonus, the team handling your job can give a fresh view and ideas about your company’s operation. Returning from a vacation is a great time to talk about systems and processes.
■ Increase the value of your company. What would happen if you were unexpectedly forced to be away from your business? Could your company run just as efficiently without you? These are the kinds of questions investors will ask to assess your company’s value. Taking a vacation gives you a chance to test the capabilities of your second in command. Brodsky sums it up best, “It was obvious to me that I was a bigger asset to the company on my return than I had been when I left.”
Editor’s note: Ken Dallafior is senior vice president, Group Business and Corporate Marketing, at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM). He leads BCBSM’s group sales force, oversees corporate marketing and product development, and develops and implements key corporate strategies. He also provides leadership to critical sales operations such as agent relations and commissions, sales incentives and complex issue resolution for group customers and sales agents. In addition to working in the insurance industry for nearly two decades, Dallafior played professional football from 1982 to 1992. He is founder and board member of the Detroit Lions Courage House.