Take a break! Step aside for a day or two and watch your business thrive

- April 26, 2022 4 MIN READ

A healthy business requires a happy, healthy and resilient leader. And with burnout rates amongst Australian business owners on the rise, Samantha Dybac, CEO at The PR Hub and host of the Influence Unlocked podcast, says that not only is it okay to take regular breaks as a business owner – it’s essential to help your business thrive.

The impact of workplace burnout on Australians is well-documented. As a fellow business owner, I completely understand the compulsion to be ‘in’ your business 24/7.

Scheduling time out is challenging, especially if you’re in startup or scale-up mode, when growth is high and it feels essential that you’re completely hands on. You could be working 12+ hour days, 6-7 days a week, yet still feeling there is never enough time in each day.

While tips to avoid burnout are plentiful, and valuable when put into daily practice, let’s look at some positive outcomes that can come from actually stepping away from your business, even if it’s just for a day or two.

Change-making starts with YOU

In years gone by, I worried that clients (and even my employees) would think the worst of me if I took a few days to myself. I viewed needing time off as a sign of weakness, wearing my around-the-clock availability like a badge of honour; when in fact the opposite is true.

Australian researchers have found that not only does burnout have severe impacts on people’s physical, emotional and mental wellbeing, the fiscal impact is of burnout is huge, with “stress-related work absenteeism and presenteeism costing Australia $14.81 billion per year.

The personal – and financial – toll on our workforces of perpetuating the productivity myth is high. So it’s up to us to lead the change.

Three great reasons to take a break from your business

Woman waving to workmates as she leaves the office

1. It empowers your team

I recently took a much-needed short break. While I was away we had a situation that required urgent attention, one that ordinarily I’d have been straight on the phone with the client to ‘fix’. Instead, I was able to provide a senior member of my team with an invaluable opportunity to step up and into control. It was a tough situation to manage and while I was not completely hands off, I was able to empower them from afar to work together to resolve the situation. They did a great job under the circumstances and were grateful for the opportunity.

We don’t hire people we don’t trust to represent our business in the best possible way, so we should trust that, given the opportunity to shine in our absence, they’ll do just that.

2. It improves culture and workflow

I regularly tune in to Martin G. Moore’s No Bullsh!t Leadership podcast and there is a terrific episode titled Stop Doing Your People’s Work: Lead THEM to do it that I recommend.

When you’re scaling a business, it’s likely you’re hands on pretty regularly, making it easy to fall into the trap of taking over without even realising it. Moore calls this “well-meaning but unhelpful intervention”.

In the lead-up to my break, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit feeling some anxiety around taking time out. We’re a high growth business with a consistent stream of new clients and new staff. But I am committed to the ongoing effort of putting resources into training and coaching, along with processes and a structure that enables the business to operate when I’m not there.

Staff and clients alike feel safe and supported, but it’s no longer dependent on my physically being there 100 per cent of the time.

3. You can find yourself

Parents – hello, mums! – will often describe a sense of having to reassess their sense of Self after having children. Being a business owner can be similarly disarming, even isolating. Work is a huge part of our lives, yes, but it shouldn’t be our sole identity.

Through taking regular breaks, I’ve discovered a passion for art and an enthusiasm for educating myself on all things crypto, NFTs and the metaverse. I’m also committed to being more adventurous. My recent break included time spent without any internet connectivity, and snorkelling; next time I might even do a real dive!

If disconnecting from your business feels scary, you’re not alone. I shared some of my fears around this recent trip on LinkedIn and they resonated strongly within the business community.

Stepping aside from your business takes practice

Like parenting, running a business requires a huge amount of energy and passion. There are plenty of challenges, and you’re learning as you go because there is no rule book for either.

I don’t have all the answers. I’ve been in business a long time and I’m still learning to let go and ‘live a little’.

But as hard as it can be to set those wheels in motion, when you do actually step aside and take a break – even if it’s just for a few days – you may just find that it’s the best thing you’ve ever done for your business, and yourself.

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Now read this:

How to increase workplace wellbeing in four easy to follow steps