Small-business owners need a vacation

their employees benefit, too

It's a marathon, not a sprint, an expert warns

July 13, 2005|By Louise Witt | Louise Witt,FORTUNE SMALL BUSINESS/KRT

Summer is vacation time. But many small-business owners think they can't afford to take time off - they don't get paid vacations and they fear that their business will suffer when they're away.

Small-business owners need to set aside time for vacations, even short ones, experts say. After all, they're already probably spending a lot of their free time taking care of company matters - checking e-mail at home, answering clients' calls on their cell phones or working on their laptops. And if they don't take time to rest, they won't have the energy that's needed to take care of bigger issues.

Lois P. Frankel, president of Corporate Coaching International in Pasadena, Calif., said running a small business is like running a long, grueling race. "Business owners have to understand that it's a marathon, not a sprint," she said. "Your business depends on you being healthy. Vacation time ensures that you'll get the breaks you need to restore the energy that you need to run this marathon."

If business owners spend most of their time working, they're likely to feel stressed, said Dr. Redford B. Williams, director of the Behavioral Medicine Research Center at Duke University.

Small-business owners tend to have more stress than corporate managers, because they don't have as much support to help them fulfill all their responsibilities.

Allen Elkin, director of a stress counseling center in New York and author of Stress Management for Dummies, says that taking a vacation is also a break for staff: "Most people will say, `Yeah, it's a good week, my boss is off.' You're causing them stress most of the time. So you want to give them a bit of a vacation, too."

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