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The “Holiday Break” Report: Majority of Small Business Owners Plan to Work Through Holiday Season

40% of SMB Owners Haven’t Taken a Break in More Than a Year

40% of SMB Owners Haven't Taken a Break in More Than a Year

Looking forward to taking a break over the holidays this year? For most people, a holiday break means time to relax, recharge and return to work ready to tackle the challenges again. For small business owners and those who work for themselves, taking a relaxing holiday break isn’t so simple. FreshBooks recently surveyed 500 small business owners, asking them about their plans to take a break during the holiday season, and how they feel if they manage to step away from work at any point of the year. 

While more than 70% of respondents agreed with the statement “taking time off during the holidays is essential to my mental health”, half of survey respondents said they’re not taking time off this holiday season, except for statutory holidays like Christmas Day. Only 25% of respondents said they planned to take at least a consecutive week off during the holiday season. 

More surprisingly, nearly all respondents said they do not disconnect from work when they take time off, at any point of the year. 85% said they continue to work at some capacity during vacation time, including checking and responding to emails, answering work calls and taking care of administrative tasks. Only 15% of small business owners said they disengage completely from work when they take time off. Regardless of whether small business owners fully disengage when taking time off, the majority of respondents (50%) said they feel stressed while away from their work.

Reasons for not taking a break over the holidays vary, with nearly half of respondents saying they can’t afford not to work and need to continue earning income. 12% more women than men cited financial reasons for not taking time off. One-third of respondents said they prefer to continue working over the holiday season, while onequarter say it’s one of their busiest seasons and they can’t get away. More men than women said they had year end work to finish, or said they simply preferred to work instead of taking time off over the holidays. 

When it comes to taking time off in general, more than 50% of small business owners said losing income is their biggest obstacle. A significant number of small business owners also said they can’t take time off because they don’t have people with the right knowledge or experience to back them up. These obstacles make it difficult for owners to take extended breaks during the holidays, and throughout the year. Nearly 40% of small business owners said they have not taken a break from work for at least one consecutive week in a year or more.

Stressing over taking time off isn’t the only concern on the minds of small business owners. 60% of respondents said they’re worried about their business due to the economic uncertainty looming over 2023.

Running a small business can be all-consuming and stressful, but there are resources to make things easier. Creating connections with other owners who understand the excitement, rewards and challenges of operating a small business is important. Join the growing community of small business owners at FreshBooks and learn more about the financial tools that can help owners avoid burnout and keep yourself and your small business moving forward.

Check out these articles as a first step:

Business Owners: How to Make the Most of This Holiday Season

Don’t Let Business Stress Take the Joy Out of Running a Small Business

Stressed About the Future of Your Business? You Need Cash Flow Forecasting

To learn more about FreshBooks research, get in touch: research@freshbooks.com

About FreshBooks

FreshBooks is changing the way business owners manage their books. Its owner-first accounting platform, loved by businesses in over 160 countries, takes an easy-to-use approach to managing finances, billing, payroll, payments, and client engagement. Known for its 10x Stevie award-winning customer support, FreshBooks serves customers of all sizes from offices in Canada, Croatia, Germany, Mexico, Netherlands, and US. FreshBooks has been recognized as a Top 10 employer by Great Places to Work for seven of the last eight years.

Survey Methodology

To learn more about small business owners and their plans to take breaks over the holidays, the obstacles they face to take breaks throughout the year, and how they feel when they manage to step away from work, FreshBooks fielded an online survey of 500 North American-based self-employed people and small business owners across various industries in November, 2022. The study’s margin of error is +/- 5% at 95% confidence.

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