Today I want to talk about the importance of taking a holiday when you run your own creative business.
But first, a story.
I had lunch with my friend Nick the other day. He’s self-employed as a copywriter, excellent at marketing and happens to co-run one of the UK’s most impressive cheese clubs. Nick was giving me some very good advice for the next stage of my business.
“Of course, I never actually take this advice myself,” Nick explained, after he’d gone into great detail about business plans and cost-per-sales.
I looked at him.
“So you’ve never done the things you’re telling me to do for your own business?”
“No, don’t be silly,” he said, “who ever takes their own advice?”
And despite giving good advice to clients, helping my students, supporting my partner and even occasionally giving Nick something to think about – neither do I.
I am so bad at taking my own advice, especially when it comes to running my creative business.
For example, in this article I’m going to tell you how important it is to take a holiday when you run your own creative business. I’ll give you facts, and stats, and loads of stuff to convince you it’s the best thing to do.
The last real holiday I had was in 2014. That’s two crazy years of not taking a real break.
I have two weeks booked off work at the end of August and I still haven’t sorted out a holiday. At all.
There’s too much pressure to make this holiday brilliant, to manage my business around it, to make sure I come back feeling refreshed, that I’ve become paralysed with indecision. I am not taking my own advice.
If there is one thing you do after reading this article, please make sure it’s to take my advice and get yourself on holiday.
Then email me and tell me to do the same.
Why holidays are essential for creative business owners.
I’m not sure if I even need to explain to you why holidays are so important, but just in case there’s someone out there who isn’t quite convinced, here are just a few reasons.
It’s unsustainable to work all the time
Human beings are living, breathing animals. We’re not designed for constant activity; we need regular breaks – hence sleeping – to help our bodies repair themselves. The same goes for our minds; constant thinking work depletes our energy, and leaves us with no space to repair or rejuvenate ourselves.
If you run a creative business, it’s likely your working hours will be longer, or at least more erratic, than other people’s. You might end up checking emails at 7am, or working on a new marketing idea until 11pm at night. You might risk falling into an ‘always on’ mentality, where you never really step away from your creative business to replenish yourself. Research and campaigning body, the Future Work Centre, has even found that ’email pressure’ – the stress felt from immediate email notifications – is an actual thing and pretty damaging.
As if you needed more to convince you about why working all the time is a bad idea:
- Working a 10 hour or more day raises your coronary heart risk by 80% compared to lower working hours
- In a five year study, people who worked a 55 hour week (compared to a 40 hour week) had lower cognitive functions including reasoning
- Over 80% of people recognise that by failing to use their time off, they’re losing out on quality time with theirself
No matter how much of a go-getter you are, it seems working constantly without a real break from your business will make you physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted.
A holiday will improve your business
You might think “But if I take a holiday, my business will suffer. I won’t be there, sales will drop, and we’re all buggered.” Not so. While it can be tricky to manage your business while you are on holiday, there are significant benefits to your business once you return that will ‘make up’ for anything you’ve felt you’ve lost.
When Project Time Off asked HR professionals within companies about the effectiveness of people who took their entitled holiday days, 75% of them reported that people who took the whole or majority of their allocated time off performed better overall than people who took minimum vacation time. I’d suggest that’s because Group A – the Jolly Holiday Makers – weren’t completely burnt out or overwhelmed, unlike poor old Group B.
So having time away from your business can improve how you perform – how you tackle and get on with your work – when you get back. It can also encourage better ideas. Participants in a 2012 study from the University of California were more likely to come up with a creative solution to a problem when they were allowed to let their mind wander after being given the brief – rather than push on straight away to think of an answer.
Better, more creative ideas come from a fresh brain – and a fresh brain is exactly what your holiday is meant to encourage.
You’ll find inspiration everywhere
Without a holiday you’ll end up being physically and mentally worn out. With a holiday, you’ll be more productive and hopefully more creative when you return. Most excitingly for creative business owners, though, is what a holiday can inspire.
Visiting a new place, experiencing a new culture, and seeing the world from a new perspective will inspire you to do new things. Maybe it’ll help you create an interesting product range, or develop a particular service for a brand-new target customer. Maybe it’ll give you beautiful photographs to use in your marketing material. Or maybe just a tacky souvenir that makes you smile every time you glance it on your desk.
There is inspiration everywhere, and a holiday away from your creative business allows you to access that inspiration. It takes you away from the monotony of receipts, invoices, scheduling and suppliers so you can revisit that passion which sparked your business in the first place.