Jirsch Sutherland, a specialist insolvency and business recovery practice, recently shared its top five tips to help SMEs switch off over Easter without losing control of the business.
Partner Andrew Spring says that with many small businesses struggling, owners are often too frightened to take a break and "let go of the reins", but it can end up doing more harm than good.
“Being a small business owner is tough,” he said.
“But prioritising your health and wellbeing is just as important as tending to your business. Stress can have a huge impact on your ability to run your business and your relationships with suppliers, employees and customers.”
Data from the 2016 census suggests that Australian startup founders and small business owners say 10-hour work days are still the norm when building a business.
But Mr Spring said burning out isn’t going to help your business.
“While no business ever comes to a complete stop, scheduling a bit of downtime will reduce stress and can also improve productivity.
“However, the time out shouldn’t be wasted. Use the time to think about what you want to achieve between now and Christmas and put a plan in place on how you hope to get there.
“If most of your clients are shutting up shop for an extra couple of days over Easter, it actually might be financially sensible for you to follow suit, or at least maintain skeleton staff. There’s no point incurring the costs required to keep your business operating if times are quiet.”
1. Be mobile
Choosing the right technology is key to flexible working. By investing in the right devices, mobile working can facilitate seamless communication from anywhere at any time. It may seem like an obvious suggestion, but it's one that many small business owners are yet to fully enable for their practice.
Technology allows us to ‘always be on’, which definitely has its advantages in business — but it’s also important to take the time to switch off altogether to allow yourself to reset, recharge and refocus — even if it’s just for a few hours. This is a tried and tested way to boost productivity when you return to your work.
To put your mind at ease, let your staff know, so they’re not alarmed if they don’t hear from you right away.
3. Health check
It’s so easy for business owners to get bogged down in operations, often missing key warning signs of failing financial health. Use the time over Easter to do a quick ‘health check’ of your business and if you are going off track, make a plan to seek advice to set you back on the right course, before it’s too late. Taking a big picture look at your positioning, away from the mania of a regular work day, can put your mind at ease and solidify your position in the long run.
4. Contingency plans
Before you close the door and head off on your break, have a contingency plan in place in case of events such as client emergencies, power outages or IT failures. The ATO's major system failure of 2016 rightly took a lot of tax and BAS agents by surprise, and small business owners ended up working through their time off to figure out a backup plan.
Planning ahead will ensure a restful, well-deserved break.
Often, we are too busy with the day-to-day operations that we forget to stop and look around. Use the time to complete something that’s been on your list for a while, such as research a new idea, or take a close look at what your competitors are doing and think about how you can improve, and get ahead in your business. Again, these simple tasks often escape the day-to-day to do list, but can make a world of difference to your mindset and business productivity.
Tim Neary, managing editor, Momentum Media