As a business owner, you feel the daily weight and responsibility for the success of your business and your life.
So on most days you power through, endlessly pushing yourself to get more done, meet deadlines and manage fires to keep your customers happy.
You keep going even as the pressure, stress and overwhelm builds and then it happens…
Your productivity begins to wane, your creativity begins to suffer, your resilience starts to falter and…
You burnout. You’re done. Toast.
And when you burnout, you cause a stress damaging ripple effect that negatively affects your employees, your customers and your bottom line.
You’re no longer present in your business. Your employees are weary of interacting with you. You’re tired and frustrated and your customers can tell.
Then where is your business? And what happens to the life you are trying to build by being a business owner?
The first step towards ensuring that you do not end up on the stressed burned-out end of business ownership is to force yourself to stop working, step back and step away.
Four awesome benefits to walking out on your business (…at least for a little while)
Now what I’m suggesting is not a complete pull up the stakes and walk away forever, but rather stepping away for short periods… Like taking a break!
1. You gain clarity, perspective & creativity
As a business owner, you need to be able to step back and look at your company from another perspective so that you can grow it effectively. Tony Schwartz of HBR writes, “When you’re running as fast as you can, what you sacrifice is attention to detail, and time to step back, reflect on the big picture, and truly think strategically and long-term.”
Taking a break enables you to strategically think about what you’re doing and what really matters to you and your business to keep it successful and profitable.
2. You empower your employees
By taking a break you show trust in your team and empower them as well. You give your team ownership of their position and contribution to the company. You also demonstrate that they are accountable to themselves and each other. When you return from your break, you’ll likely see that your team grew and demonstrated new capabilities.
So when you take things off of your plate and it put it on theirs, something that will benefit you also benefits your team. You and they will appreciate the new responsibilities and the opportunity to expand their roles. As an added bonus, the team handling your duties can give you a fresh view and ideas about your role and company’s operations.
Your break will enable you to hear these ideas with an open mind.
3. You improve your business processes
Taking a break allows you and your team to learn how to depend on the systems or lack of systems you’ve built. It also shows you where you’re still the only one who knows how to do something, so you can improve those processes and eliminate the bottlenecks.
Taking a break will allow you to fix issues you did not know existed and ultimately this will make your business more valuable and efficient.
4. You recharge your batteries
Stepping away from your business is good for your health because excessive stress and burnout can lead to numerous health issues including: heart disease, depression, digestive problems and obesity. Your brain also needs the break to rest and recharge after focusing and working for a long period of time.
Without breaks (short or long), your thinking becomes more dull, you lose clarity and problems end up taking a lot longer to solve.
Taking a break now can help you approach the inevitable challenges of running a business from a clearer, more focused and healthier perspective.
6 No-fail steps on how to step away and take a break
While it would be great just to get up and step away from your business, the reality is that in orderÂ to make this break successful you need to cover a few bases and prepare.
- First things first, you must actually stop what you’re doing and turn off all distractions (computer, phone, email, etc.).
- Pull out a clean sheet of paper or create a new project in your project management system and make a list of everything pressing (activities, projects & tasks) that you need to do and prioritize this list.
- Divvy out the critical tasks that need to be taken care of, set expectations and hold your team accountable.
- Work with your team and create an emergency plan and boundaries if your team really must contact you while you are taking your break.
- Very important! Manage your customer expectations. If you regularly have direct client contact, let your clients know who they can contact to take care of them while you are away.
- Lastly…TRUST that everything will be ok. TRUST your team and TRUST yourself.
It’s OK to go slow, so long as you go
If you’re still feeling uneasy about a break, then take baby steps and begin to schedule brief periods of downtime into your day.
Whether it’s 15 minutes to sit quietly and think in the morning, a 10-minute walk around the block in the afternoon or half an hour to read a (non-business-related) book at night, building in some downtime will help you gain confidence that you can take longer periods away from your business.
Put it on your calendar, just like you would a business appointment, and stick to it.
Unplug from your business for real… That means no phone and no email.
You won’t get the benefits of your time out to rest and restore if you’re checking your email every 10 minutes!
Remember, the purpose of this break is to allow yourself to detach from your business to give yourself the clarity and perspective to take your business to even more profitable levels.
Image courtesy: Dennis Skley