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New research: How do Aussie small business owners manage it all?

Posted 4 months ago in Small business by Anneliese Urquhart

I grew up in a tiny town in the Nullarbor where small business was its’ lifeblood. My parents ran their own business and, some years later, I followed in their footsteps and did the same.

Like many small business owners across Australia, I saw my fair share of sunrise starts and hours lying awake at night with excitement or trepidation. And while we all know that our small businesses run on grit and dedication, we rarely dig deep into the approach that millions of business owners take to sustain their efforts and energy.

The flexible approach to work and travel

That’s why I loved reading through Xero’s Travel Habits Report. It unpicks the attitude small business owners take toward work and travel compared to the average Aussie worker.

Because, while you might not expect it, those who work for themselves are leading by example in in Australia. They are getting away from their desks more frequently, to enjoy some much needed rest and relaxation.

Sixty four percent of the small business owners that we surveyed reported as having been on a holiday in the last six months. Almost two-in-five having done so in the last three months. On the flip side, 23 percent of people who work for others indicated they haven’t had a holiday in the last 12 months.

The majority of small business owners (65 percent) also have plans to take holidays in the next six months. Additionally more than a third (36 per cent) are set to travel in the next three months.

The beauty of a regular refresh

Here are some more key insights:

  • The frequency of travel is possible because small business owners are more likely to take shorter, more frequent breaks. Thirty-nine percent of small business owners take these breaks compared to the 26 per cent of the average Australian worker.
  • Two weeks annual leave is the typical amount of time Aussies prefer to take each holiday. However nearly one in five small business owners prefer to take only four days off at a time – compared to less than one in ten of Aussie workers (nine per cent) who prefer to take a short break.
  • But it may prove harder to make sure a long break actually eventuates. More than half of Australian workers have failed to use up all the entitled leave in the past 12 months. That equates to 111 million days of unused leave, just this year. A further 45 percent admitted to not using any annual leave in 2017.
  • Seventy one percent of small business owners said more frequent breaks throughout the year also reduces the likelihood of ‘back to work holiday blues’.

Build the balance on your terms

Almost all of the small business owners we spoke to said that a holiday is an investment in personal wellbeing. They also emphasised it as a necessity to maintaining a good work-life balance. I love seeing the flexibility with which Australian small businesses embrace the opportunity to rest, relax and explore. Often upending traditional expectations to continue to do things on their terms.

And according to the business owners we spoke to, a mid-year pause is high on their list of periods for a break. So if you’re heading away to celebrate your wins this financial year and plan for the success ahead, I wish you many short, sweet and happy travels.

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