GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK!
Quit making excuses for not taking time out from your business! Glenn Baker meets four highly successful business owners who really know the importance of taking regular breaks and reveals their secrets on how to have a holiday.
As the holiday season looms and the majority of workers prepare to take their major break for the year, many business owners will be foregoing their break in order to keep the business running, to catch up on some work, or to step in so staff can have some time off. And for retailers especially, this time of year can be incredibly hectic, recession or no recession.
The sad thing is, business owners often start up a business purely for the sake of having some freedom and independence from a boss – instead they may feel they’re missing out on the good life, denying themselves precious family holiday time for the sake of the business. One day, perhaps as they listen to a staff member’s exciting holiday plans, they come to the realisation that they’re not their own boss, essentially all they did was buy themselves a 24/7, 365-day job – they’re exhausted, burnt out and there’s no escape!
Well to all these beleaguered people, the following four highly successful business owners say ‘poppycock’! Get a life! You can have a business and a holiday too. They do it, and that is one big reason why they are successful in business.
The awesome foursome we chose are Ben Ridler, Wendy Davie, Kevin Smee and Louise Pilkington – all business owners who make a point of planning holidays well in advance, not just for the sake of family and health, but ultimately, for the business. That’s right, Mr & Mrs stressed out business owner, a break is definitely good for the bottom-line!
The results speak for themselves
Ben Ridler, managing director of Results Group, describes himself as “always relaxed” and is living proof that regular breaks are good for business. His business coaching company has achieved spectacular growth since its inception, with nine practices around the country working with some 200 businesses every week. Not only that, he practices what he preaches to clients. And he can take an extended break from work (most recently six weeks in Canada and Europe combining business with a holiday) and come back to find that everything has been running like clockwork and there’s virtually nothing for him to do. (Go to the Results Group website and read his blog on “A Business That Works Without You”.)
Ridler’s philosophy on business breaks includes completely removing oneself from the business – that means no cellphone, no email, no laptop. “Your staff will find you if they really have to.”
To get your energy levels back up you must rejuvenate mentally; switch off he says – “go to where there’s water and/or mountains.”
And don’t wait until after your firm’s busy period to take a break, when you’re shattered, says Ridler – do it beforehand, and you’ll be energised for when you need it.
“Being a business owner is not about a lot of activity,” he adds. “It’s about making good decisions, coming up with solutions. You need holidays so there’s less activity and more decision-making. In fact, it should be ‘the bigger the business, the better the lifestyle’ for the owner. If it’s not happening right now, you need to reassess your role.”
Ridler believes that regular breaks will give you a better perspective on your business.
“Get detached. You’ll have a different perspective when you start thinking about the business again, and you’ll find that most breakthroughs come just after a holiday. You’ll also be less grumpy, more proactive and your creative energy levels will be way up. Plus your personal and family relationships will benefit – running a business puts a great deal of strain on marriages.
“And don’t feel guilty just because your people are working and you’re not. My people are proud of the fact that the company can run without me.
“Remember you have a huge responsibility to make good decisions that affect a lot of people. You need to unplug so you’re in a good head space.”
He has sympathy for one-man businesses – but encourages them to take a break too. “Put systems in place, work on it, just go and see what happens. Chances are things will work out better than you imagined.”
Ridler personally likes to go overseas, where he can get more perspective and “his thinking gets bigger” – time out in
He’s also a family man and keen boatie, so if the weather’s fine he’ll usually be found out on the Hauraki Gulf or up at the
His favourite holiday destinations, aside from his launch, include
Work hard, holiday long
Kevin Smee has a young family and works hard as director of two companies – Solutions Financial Services and Brokers Independent Group. He also has a couple of hard and fast rules when it comes to taking time out.
“Weekends are non-negotiable time with the family, and I don’t take work home.”
Smee’s business is 20 years old, so it’s his view that he has ‘done the time’ and can now justify taking longer breaks. In total he manages to get away for eight to ten weeks a year, with a maximum of two weeks off at a time.
Many of these breaks take in industry conferences in places such as Hong Kong, South America and
And because the finance industry traditionally shuts down at the end of the year and over January, Smee also has the opportunity to take a decent break over summer.
On family holidays he leaves his cellphone at home, and keeps an eye on email, while his wife Nicola, managing director of SFS, stays in touch by texting.
“It’s never a problem because we both have such fantastic PAs and a great office manager, and we encourage them to make decisions in our absence,” says Smee.
Favourite destinations include
And then there is the fishing. Like Ridler, Smee spends a lot of his free time out on the water – he estimates that three out of four weekends are spent mucking around on the water in the family launch with his children Luke and Jess.
Again, the key to taking breaks is to schedule them in your diary a long way in advance. Smee regards his holidays as a reward for putting KPIs in place and getting them done. “It’s recommended you have goals in place and a means of measuring progress,” he says. “So think of measurement, targets and rewards as a strategy. Ultimately monthly rewards is a good way to go.”
Smee says even one-man operations should take a break for three to four weeks. “
Don’t over-complicate things
Wendy Davie also knows all about the importance of ‘organising’ a holiday into a busy business schedule. A CV that includes emergency department nurse, photographer, writer, wife and mother means that she has devised many ways for people to get organised, simplify life and get a lot more done.
Having time out from your business is absolutely vital says
Even if you can only manage the occasional one-day break, perhaps just to get in the garden or have a decent lie-in, it’s worth it for the sake of your mental health, says
“Surround yourself with really good people. It’s a trust thing – learn to let go and understand that others can do a great job, even when you’re not there.”
So how do you find good people whom you can rely on?
Surprisingly her consultants don’t need to be ‘totally organised’ people.
Apart from last summer when
Her other favourite camping spot is Lake Clearwater in the Canterbury Hills, and if there’s an overseas holiday in the making, chances are it will be Hawaii, because all the family windsurfs.