Can business owners truly have a holiday?

Mike McGrail
May 5, 2014 · 4 min read

At 13:45 tomorrow, I’ll be accelerating away from a runway and high into the sky, embarking on a holiday with my wife and toddler (oh the fun of a flight with a two year old!). The destination is Nice, France (yes, it is nice) and I’ll be away for ten days. That ten day stretch represents the longest break I will have had since starting Velocity Digital in 2012.

Will it be a true holiday?

My immediate thought is that it will actually represent a proper holiday. I’ll have more time to spend with my family than usual, I won’t be in the office or meetings and I won’t be in front of my computer or out networking.


I will have to check my email every day. I will most likely have to give feedback on some things to the team back in the office, and I do intend to spend some time writing. When I think about those things, I don’t have a picture in my head of my holiday being blown apart, I actually see them as a holiday enhancement.

Yes, I said enhancement. You see, if I don’t check my email, then I’ll have a fat inbox to wade my way through on my return, which is a terrible way to spend your first refreshed day back at your desk. Checking said email will also allow me to feel relaxed as I will have a good idea of what is happening with our clients in my absence — this stops me thinking about the nitty-gritty too much while I’m away.

My work is like my vacation, so in a way every day is like Saturday — Ludacris

I will be asking my team to only email me directly if there’s something they’re unsure of etc, and that will limit the time I need to spend giving feedback, they’re a clever bunch, and I can be happy that when I’m away, things will be in safe hands.

Now, I won’t have my phone by my side, checking that inbox every 10 minutes, I’ll be very strict and spend some time in the morning, and once again per day at a suitable time, this ensures the right balance!

On the writing front, I always find being in a different environment, doing different things gives me inspiration for writing, and there’s no better time to capitalise on that inspiration than when one is sitting in the sun with a cold beverage in hand!

Time to think

It can be a struggle to find time to really get my head around the big thinking I need to do about the business — the normal day-to-day stuff can get in the way. A period away from that can deliver the head-space required to think at the development level and I hope to be able to make the most of that. My business is in a pretty rapid growth phase and I do have to really nail down our next moves.

Back to the original question

Can a business owner have a true holiday? I say yes, yes they can! However, I won’t be switching off 100% and I do believe that will help me to have a better holiday, and return from it refreshed, but informed and ready to push things forward. I believe with the right blend, a true holiday can happen.

There will be times when it isn’t as possible. I went away for a week just three months after starting Velocity (to visit close family and introduce them to our baby) and I really didn’t feel relaxed at all, I was glued to my phone, checking emails, hoping for business enquiries to come in and trying to calm my slightly nervous self at all times. I had no staff at that time, and as the ‘lone-wolf’ in the business, had nobody back at the office to pick up the slack etc. With hindsight, I should’ve stayed right here, but it was a family thing too. I would advise avoiding a lengthy holiday at the early stage of starting a business and of course, you need to take into account your peak times when planning your next trip! If you do have regular slow periods, a holiday at those times could be great, as it may actually allow you to take the time to think about how you could reverse those slow periods in the future.

Right, enough of this, I’ve got a bag to pack!

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