Small business owners missing out on summer holidays with their children

While most of the country will be taking advantage of the summer to enjoy time off with their friends and family the Simply Business work/life study found a fifth haven’t been able to take a single day off work this summer.

A further 30 per cent have only been able to have a summer holiday if they stay at home or within the UK in order to keep tabs on their business. As 72 per cent of those surveyed are parents, this means school holidays haven’t resulted in traditional family summer breaks for three-quarters of a million small business owners.

Despite a statutory right to 20 days holiday each year, many self-employed workers get nowhere near that number with a quarter of those surveyed admitting they take less than 10 days annual leave, even when accounting for bank holidays.

Some other worrying trends identified in the survey include a lack of a social life and an impact on their health show, as almost half cancel plans with friends and family at least once a week because of work. Over half a million small business owners just do not make any social plans purely because they know they are too busy with work to commit to them, and a quarter of those surveyed admitted to falling ill due being overworked and stressed.

Despite these figures two thirds said they were happy with their work/life balance.

While the pressures of running your own business has its downsides to time spent away from work, with business administration being a popular task outside of regular working hours, Simply Business found that almost half of microbusiness owners benefit from fixing their own hours to make it work around family life.

Today, mobile devices allow small business owners to be accessible and able to work at any time. This means that the three quarters who are parents can work unconventional hours to juggle commitments like the school run to making dinner. The research also found the majority of all small business owners agree technology has been a help to their work/life balance.

Jason Stockwood, CEO of Simply Business who commissioned the research, believes business owners must not underestimate how much work goes into running a business. “Setting up and running your own business demands a huge commitment that many employees would never want to undertake. It requires more than your expert skill and knowledge in your field and unending perseverance to get your business off the ground.

“Microbusiness owners and sole traders have to be more than the CEO of their company- they have to play every important role from finance director to chief marketing officer. The time and effort needed to survive can be punishing so it is all the more important for small business owners to ensure they balance their work with a social life to prevent getting run down and ultimately putting their business in jeopardy.”

Simply Business’ study amongst small business owners is supported by Mind, the national mental health charity, and Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind, says too many small business owners don’t juggle their work/life balance well enough.

“Too many small business owners are failing to make enough time for their lives outside work, often sacrificing holidays and social activities with family and friends. Having a good work-life balance, including regularly having time off, is key to staying mentally healthy. Taking proper breaks allows staff to return refreshed and revived, and small business owners are no exception.

“Every business owner wants to ensure their business is a success and this can mean putting in the extra hours from time to time. But consistently working long hours and managing an excessive workload can take their toll on our physical and mental health, with the potential to negatively affect business performance. Staff who look after their mental wellbeing are more productive, have higher morale and are less likely to need time off sick. So it’s in the interests of all small business owners, and employees more generally, to ensure that they give as much priority to their personal life as they do their jobs.”