Small business owners face challenges in getting away from it all

Raymond Keating
Raymond Keating

Starting and operating your own business requires a tremendous investment in time for most entrepreneurs. Still, there’s the need to occasionally get away from things, at least to some degree, to rest and re-energize.

A new Gallup poll provides some interesting information on vacations for microbusiness owners with five or fewer employees. Here are a few key points:

“One in five U.S. microbusiness owners (20 percent) reported not taking any vacation days in the past 12 months, with another 21 percent saying they took a week or less. These owners are also the most likely to say they will not be vacationing anytime soon — with almost half (9 percent of microbusiness owners overall) saying they don’t expect to take a vacation in the next year, either.”

Another 20 percent said they took one to two weeks of vacation. Therefore, it’s safe to say that more than 50 percent of microbusiness owners took less than two weeks of vacation over the past year.

Microbusiness owners who have no employees took a median of 14 vacation days, while those with employees took a median of 10 days.

The age of the business plays into the mix as well, with more years in business generally coinciding with more vacation days. For example, those in business for less than a year took a median of seven vacation days over the past year. That rose to 10 days for those in business two to five years, 14 days for those in business six to ten years, 12 days for 11 to 20 years and 14 days for those in business more than 20 years.

The age of the business owner also matters. Owners between the ages of 18 and 34 years old took a median of seven vacation days, compared to 10 days for those ages 35 to 64 and 14 days for those 65 or older.

What is to be made of those microbusiness owners who take no or little vacation?

The Gallup analysis provides the following summary: “While microbusiness owners who don’t take vacation time are more likely than their peers who do vacation to report struggling with their work/life balance and being dissatisfied with their standard of living, some appear to be energized by the workload. This polarization may point to two groups of microbusiness owners who take little to no vacation — those who are energized by their ideal job and might choose not to take time away from it and those who are struggling and might not be able to afford to take time away.”

Another group, of course, could be those energized by their role as entrepreneur, working to build the business to a certain level and then allow for some increased vacation time.

While it’s not always possible, some vacation time could be beneficial for business owners to gain critical perspective on their enterprises and the fullness of their lives beyond work.