Career Breaks For Entrepreneurs?
Sounds like a bit of an anathema: surely people who run their own businesses work hard and don’t have time for luxuries such as career breaks?
All work and no play
For business owners who are striving to build their own business, there’s rarely much division between work and personal life, the hours are long, the responsibilities vast, and the challenges they face on an almost daily basis require a level of energy, work capacity and tenacity rarely found in a mere mortal. But before you shed a tear, remember this is what they love, so why on earth would they want a career break? Who’s going to run the business in their absence? Who’s going to handle the call from a huge sales prospect or deal with the unexpected VAT inspection? Will it be possible to take a break without almost constant contact with the office via phone and email?
Yet there’s another common trait amongst entrepreneurs: a tendency to be philanthropic. Many business owners recognise their good fortune, and feel the need to put this to good use for others, to give something back to society. We see that demonstrated by several high profile highly successful business people via foundations and charities they set up and fund. It’s also pretty common amongst the many that don’t seek stardom. Be it charity donations from the business coffers, team-based fund raising activities, or devoting personal time to support and make a positive difference to a cause close to their heart.
Strong businesses survive and thrive
The ability of a business to survive and thrive in the absence of the owner-manager is a core attribute of a strong business. It shows there’s a decent team running it, who are more than capable of driving the business forward and making key decisions – and that they are empowered to do so. So the planned absence of the boss focuses the mind on ensuring the infrastructure is there to keep the business running in their absence.
That means that it’s worth doing
A career break for the business owner can strengthen the business, allows the entrepreneur to exercise their philanthropic tendencies, and will bring them back into the business with renewed vigour, ideas and energy; and with a stronger recognition that they’ve got a senior team who can be trusted to succeed.
All that remains then is to decide what to do and for how long
Two weeks is no more than an annual holiday so doesn’t really count. Although if you haven’t had a two week holiday since starting your own business, it might be a sensible first step. Six months or more is probably a step too far.
I like the idea of 1-2 months. It’s long enough to prove the business works in your absence, and it’s enough time to make a big difference in whatever it is you choose to do.
Always one to practice what I preach, I’m off to Sri Lanka next year for six weeks with Social Starters (see http://www.socialstarters.org/). It’s the opportunity to make a difference, to make a substantial positive impact for people who are a lot less advantaged.
Who’s going to run Zonata in my absence? Well there I’m dead lucky. I have nine partners all of whom have previously run successful businesses and, collectively, are a force to be reckoned with. A great opportunity and exciting times.
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