Fewer small businesses taking summer vacation

June 10, 2011

— Robin Enos is a contributor to FindLaw’s Free Enterprise blog. FindLaw is a Thomson Reuters publication. —

We’ve written about how small businesses don’t really have a legal obligation to give employees paid vacation time. But what about the owner’s small business vacation time?

You’d think owner vacation time would rank low on small business owners’ priority list. And you would be right. A majority (59 percent) took no vacation last summer, says a report released by American Express.

But the reason isn’t simply profit maximization.

A large majority (79 percent) of small business owners do not feel guilty for taking a vacation, reports the AmEx survey of 500 small business owners.

But other reasons not to get away loom large:

  • Busy work schedules (37 percent) and affordability (29 percent) affect some owners’ hesitancy to take a vacation this summer.
  • Entrepreneurs are less plugged in than they were in 2008, but 68 percent still check in every day while on vacation, and 18 percent say they check in several times a day.
  • Rising gasoline costs will affect half of small business owners’ vacation plans, keeping them closer to home or staying home altogether.
  • The uncertain economy is affecting 57 percent of small business owners’ vacation plans. Still, 46 percent of small business owners surveyed say they will take a summer vacation this year.

And, surprisingly, when entrepreneurs finally do get away, they spend an average of $2,215 on a summer vacation.

Owners’ leading concern about taking vacation? By a narrow margin, 33 percent worry an important customer or client will not get good service. That beats 27 percent, who worry they will miss an important new business opportunity, says the AmEx report.

One AmEx finding leads to an obvious solution to how to get some small business vacation time. Only 27 percent of owners surveyed plan to combine vacation with a business trip this summer. So maybe you can combine that business meeting with a nice trip with your family, for some owner vacation time.

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