More than half of Australia’s small business owners abandon any plans to take a holiday once they start-up, with long hours the norm for the vast majority of entrepreneurs, according to a new MYOB report.
The report, based on a survey of 1,043 small business owners, asked respondents to identify any sacrifices they have made in order to support their business.
According to the report, 87% of small business owners have made some sort of sacrifice since they started their business, with nearly two thirds (64%) saying they have put in extra hours.
The industries most likely to work overtime are, unsurprisingly, retail and hospitality.
Also of interest was the lack of correlation between hours worked and revenue. 71% of business operators who experienced a rise in revenue in the prior 12 months had worked extra hours.
This compares to 69% who saw revenue fall despite working extra hours, suggesting overtime does not necessarily translate into increased revenue.
Meanwhile, the second most common sacrifice was taking fewer holidays (53%). Of those who had reported a decline in revenue in the last year, 56% had taken fewer holidays.
Those who have not taken any holidays since starting their business (29%) also struggled with revenue losses in the last year (37%).
They were most likely to be micro businesses (36%) and located in Queensland (37%).
The third most common sacrifice was cutting back on family and/or household expenses (45%), followed by missing an important family occasion to work in the business (32%).
Those most likely to miss an important occasion were businesses with $1-5 million per annum in revenue (48%) or in retail and hospitality (43%).
Ella Legg, sole trader of home-based business Ella Smith Communications, says sole traders should try to allocate their holidays at the start of the year.
“Lock them away and don’t allow them to turn on their head,” Legg says.
According to Legg, sole traders should attempt to take holidays at least quarterly, even if it’s only for a couple of days, in order to “refresh, refocus and allow those creative juices to flow”.
“It really depends on what business you’re in, but if you track your time and have a system in place, you can know when you’re busy and plan holidays accordingly,” she says.
Legg says sole traders, especially those based at home, often forget to take holidays because they’re not operating in an office environment.
“I think that’s the perception because you can go and switch off whenever you need it, rather than having to sit at your desk and look alert… But you still need to get some away time,” she says.
Legg says it’s important to communicate with clients and customers well in advance of taking a holiday.
“Have it everywhere, whether it’s on your website, blog, newsletter, etc,” she says.
Legg says sole traders should consider bringing someone on to run the business while you’re away, providing they are fully up to speed on everything within the operation.
“I think it would be a huge help to have someone to bridge the gap,” she says.
“If you have a system in place where they know the priorities and the level of consumer service to offer the clients, and fully understand the expectations of the clients, [then it’s advisable].”
“As long as you have everything mapped out – have a system in place to ensure the person filling in for you understands the [business].”