By Meredith Wood

It goes without saying that small business owners work hard. This is especially true of start-ups who don’t have the capital to hire additional employees to lighten the workload. Taking a vacation is often unheard of in the first few years of operating a new business but many men and women are finding it necessary for their mental health and physical well-being to get away even if it’s only a day or two at a time.

According to an Infographic created for Intuit by Column Five, “55% of small business owners work through most, if not all holidays.” Not only does this stress the body and increase the likelihood of heart attacks, it also halts productivity. You read that right! Working too much makes a business less productive, not more productive.

Here’s how many entrepreneurs have opted to take vacation while running a small business.

Find someone to take over while you’re away.

You have managers for a reason. Although you might be leery leaving them alone for any length of time initially, realize that you hired them for a position of authority for a reason. If you can’t trust the people you put in charge of your business, you need to reconsider why you hired them in the first place. Leave your managers with explicit instructions as to what to do while you’re away and give them a number to reach you at in the event of an emergency. It’s time to put their skills to the test.

Tie up loose ends.

You always have the option to work ahead. By tackling a few small tasks daily, you knock out some of the larger responsibilities you’re used to taking care of. This allows you to relax and be more comfortable being away from your business.

Prepare for new business by keeping in touch with new contacts.

A simple “Out of the Office” message can give customers and clients the information that they need to contact you at a later date and time. Not knowing why a company isn’t replying to an inquiry is very bad for business. It makes customers think you don’t care, when in reality, you’re out of the office for a few days.

Keep up liability and other forms of insurance.

Accidents and disasters occur without notice. By keeping your business prepared for the worst, you can breathe easier while you are away. You won’t be caught off-guard and your most valuable assets will be protected. There are many sad stories about business owners who came back to a burglarized, flooded or burned-down building. Don’t be one of them.

Create a team of supporters.

Smart entrepreneurs have access to a full team of supporters including accountants, lawyers, technical support, and building supervisors. The more the merrier. If your people are willing and capable to handle things on their own, let them. Give them a phone number to reach you at in the event of an emergency and then sit back, relax, and trust in the process.

Define a plan for day-to-day operations.

You know what needs to get done and by when. Relay specific instructions to your staff to complete these tasks as soon as they possibly can. Allow enough time between projects to allow each individual to focus on the job at hand. It’s not about who’s the quickest. It’s who is the most thorough and satisfactory in his or her approach.

Keep the lines of communication open.

Although your employees know to call you if things get out of hand, they also know that they should trust the guidance of the person you put in charge. If a manager or supervisor is capable of answering questions and fulfilling needs, you shouldn’t have to. Name the right person to the position before leaving and rest assured that your business is in good hands at all times.

A little rest and relaxation can improve your health, reduce the amount of stress you feel, and give you a new perspective. Taking time off may not always seem plausible but it is well worth looking into. If you’re unable to leave your business for a good length of time, consider scheduling shorter periods of time off throughout the year. It’s well worth it.