Tag Archive for 'vacation'

How vacations reveal American Dream may be in jeopardy

For several years we’ve polled our small business audience weekly about issues and conditions that impact them.

Whenever a question is seasonal or a recurring issue, besides serving that poll, the responses often produce a bonus. For example, the potential to identify year-over-year trends, or illuminate a current market trend.

In last week’s poll response, we scored both of these bonuses. The subject was a seasonal one that’s almost unique to small business ownership – “Will you take a vacation?” – with three response options: 1) “I’ll take an entire week off;” 2) “Only mini-vacations, like a long weekend;” and 3) “Vacation? I can’t even take a day off.”

This year everyone moved. Historically the real vacation group fluctuated close to 50%. I was happy to see our new poll had almost six of ten (59%) respondents allowing they were taking a week off, whether to go incommunicado, or expecting to check in. The long weekend responders in the middle thinned out compared to past years, while the sarcastic, “What’s a vacation?” bunch increased.

The classic evolution of time off for a business owner looks like the inverse of our response options. In the beginning it’s, “What’s a vacation?” then you graduate to long weekends as the business matures, and finally to a full week off, or more, at maturity. Maturity means having your organizational and capitalization stuff together.

This week’s response also supports two forecasts I made in 2009.

As the Great Recession technically ended, I predicted small businesses would increasingly diverge into two categories: they would either become stronger, or inevitably erode their equity and credit and go out of business. That’s what I’m seeing in the responses to our vacation poll this week. The sector that formerly could only take off a few days is diminishing because they’ve either joined the organizationally and financially stronger ranks, or gone the other way toward extinction.

Historically speaking, it would be intuitive and accurate to think that the no vacation group would include startups, rather than just declining businesses. But I also predicted in 2009 that there would be fewer startups in this economic recovery cycle. As you may have seen reported by real research organizations, my startup prediction, unfortunately, has come to pass. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there has been a steady, 10-year decline in businesses less than one year old, and the category total is 10% fewer today than 20 years ago.

So our vacation responses indicate a barbell effect happening on Main Street. And it’s good news that so many small businesses have survived and become stronger. But since every business, large and small, begins as a startup, the overall decline of entrepreneurship in the U.S. does not bode well for the future robustness of the U.S. economy or the business ownership component of the American dream.

Write this on a rock …
If small businesses were a plant or animal species, it would currently be classified as threatened, on a path toward endangered.

POLL RESULTS: Will you give your business a vacation from you this summer?

The Question:

Will you give your business a vacation from you this summer?

28% - I will completely disconnect for at least a week.

31% - I will take a week off, but will be checking in.

25% - I can only handle long weekends this summer.

16% - Are you kidding? I can’t even take a day off!

Jim’s Comments:

Almost every year since we’ve been doing this online poll, we’ve asked about vacation for small business owners. Looking at these historic responses we saw that taking a whole week off has generally fluctuated on either side of 50%. But this year, I was happy to see that almost six of ten of our folks were going to take a week off, either to completely disconnect or to check in. This year, those who can only handle a couple of days at a time dropped, while those who can’t take any time off increased.

I’m going to have more to say about this in next week’s Featured Article, including how what I believe is a connection between these responses and the current condition of the Main Street economy. Stay tuned and thanks for contributing. Don’t forget to take our new poll below.

Four reasons you should take a vacation from your business

Could you use a vacation?

Of course you could and most of us know time away gives any leader a better perspective. But polls show less than half of small business owners are likely to take off a whole week for vacation.

Perhaps this is a better question: Could your business use a vacation from you?

Of course it could. Your absence will reveal organizational weaknesses that need attention as well as strengths you may have overlooked.

Regardless of your motivations, here are four ideas to consider to help you take more time off.

1.  Define success.
Webster defines success two ways: 1) a favorable outcome; 2) gaining wealth and fame.
Embracing both definitions as having equal value will help you recognize that living long enough to enjoy the fruits of the second definition—with your loved ones—must be part of your success definition.

2.  Hire quality.
Taking time off requires being able to leave your business with a team that’s trustworthy.
If you’re not comfortable with the idea of leaving your baby in the care of others, your instincts are probably good, but your hiring practices may not be. Part of your interview process should determine whether a prospect is the quality of individual you would trust with your company in your absence.  By the way, this is one of the best times in history to acquire high-quality talent.  It’s a buyer’s (hirer’s) market.

3. Delegate.
If you’ve already assembled that trustworthy team, their usefulness is limited by your ability to delegate.  Delegating isn’t easy for entrepreneurs; you’ve done all of the jobs, and you know how you want them done. But there’s an old saying that successful delegators embrace, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”  If you cringe at the thought of how things won’t be perfect in your absence—get over it.

4. Leverage technology.
No one has to be completely unplugged anymore. There’s plenty of affordable technology that can serve as your security blankie by helping you “mind the store” without actually being there. And if you practice, no one will notice that you checked email on your smart phone while rolling over to tan the other side.

Finally, if you’re not intentional about living a balanced life—that includes vacations—you may accomplish the “wealth and fame” part of success, but the big celebration may involve others toasting you posthumously.

Write this on a rock …

Give yourself—and your business—a vacation.

SBA Poll- Is there a vacation in your future?

The Question:
Will you be able to take time off from your business for vacation this summer?

43% - Yes, for at least a week

49% - Yes, but only a couple of days at a time

9% - No. Can’t afford the expense or the time away

My Comments:
Here’s an old small business joke:

A small business owner is talking with an acquaintance and is asked, “How’s it going?” To which the business owner says, “Things are getting better; I’m down to working half days.” When the friend congratulates him, obviously impressed, the small business owner says, “Yes, it’s great; I even get to choose which 12 hours.”

As you can see from our poll last week, 91% of our respondents expect to take some time off for a vacation this summer, with the rest admitting they “… can’t afford the expense or time.” Regardless of whether you’re talking about vacation or just an occasional day off, any time a small business owner gets away from the business is a well-earned and richly deserved.

Hope you get to get away this year. Good luck.


Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

Small Business Advocate Poll:Will you be able to take a vacation from your business?

The Question:
Will you be able to take time off from your business for vacation this summer?

17% - Yes, for at least a week

51% - Yes, but only a couple of days at a time

32% - No. Can’t afford the expense or the time away

My Commentary:
The good news is that two-thirds of our respondents will take some kind of a vacation. The bad news is that more than half will catch time off when they can and one-third think they can’t afford a vacation.

Some of this response is associated with the reality of being a small business owner, which often creates the feeling - if not the reality - that we just can’t leave the business for any extended period, even a few days. But it is very likely that this level of little or no vacation expectation is connected to the lack-luster economic recovery.

Hang in there, small business owners.


On my radio show, The Small Business Advocate, I’ve talked with Walter Kiechel III, former editorial director of Harvard Business Review, former managing editor at Fortune magazine and author of The Lords of Strategy, about the benefits of taking time off, not just for a business owner but also the business itself. Take a few minutes to click on the links below and listen or download.

Do small business owners need more vacations?

The organizational benefits of executive vacations

Should managers be required to take annual vacations?

Check out more great SBA content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Vacation? What’s that?

A small business weaves a fine seam between itself and the life of its owner. In the beginning, it’s because of all the work it takes to get the business out of the ground. Later, as the business matures, the owner often becomes the brand customers identify with, which means consistent sales performance seems to depend upon the owner’s omnipresence.  At least that’s the way it seems.

Between the business consistently getting in the cash line ahead of a vacation budget and the owner being afraid to leave - like a new mother leaving her baby with a babysitter for the first time - it can be tough for a small business owner to take a real vacation?

We wanted to know how the whole vacation thing was looking for small business owners these days, so we asked this question: As summer approaches, will you be able to leave your business long enough to take a vacation where you’re away from work for a week? Here’s what we learned.

A little more than 40% of our respondents said they were definitely taking a real vacation this summer. Goodonya, guys!  This means several things:  You have a successful, mature organization; you have your priorities straight; your family gave you an ultimatum, or some combination.

About 1 in 5 of our sample was undecided. If half of these actually take a vacation, that would be over half of our sample getting away from it all this summer.

But 37% said there would be no vacation this year.You’ll get no judgment from me - been there, done that. No one doesn’t like a vacation - you gotta do what you gotta do.

One of the best ways for a small business owner to grow into taking a full vacation is by taking time off over long weekends.I’ve been doing this for years - give it a try.

I talked more about taking time off from the business on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show. Click here to listen and let us know what your vacation plans are for this summer.

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