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Everyone loves a holiday, nice weather (hopefully), the chance to relax, kick back and unwind, all at a pace of your choosing. Unfortunately for those of you who are self employed, 20% of you could end up cancelling your getaway plans due to workload pressures.

When you run your own business, especially if you’re a one man show or not much bigger, taking time off can fill you with feelings of stress and anxiety rather than as it should be – the excitement of a well-deserved break. On top of that the self employed that run their own businesses are not entitled to annual leave as per the rules as laid down by HMRC, Revenue.

Time of year plays a part too. You won’t find the local butcher shutting up his shop a week before Christmas. He has an untold amount of turkeys to prepare. Small businesses can be seasonal in nature, and taking a holiday during the busy periods can jeopardise the entire operation.

Holidays are important however, taking time off means that you can come back rested and more productive as well as being in a better mental state. So what do you need to do to make sure that you can get a hard earned break without putting your business at a disadvantage?


Of course you need to plan. You already knew that because as someone that runs their own business, you’re making plans every day. When looking to fit a holiday in though, we recommend you make two distinct to do lists. One should be a list of things that absolutely have to be done before you go and the other should be what you’ll need to take care of once you return after your break.

Doing these to do lists will mean that you can take care of all the critical stuff for the business prior to heading away. While you’re away you’ll be have peace of mind that this has been taken care of and that you know what you’ll be doing once you’re back.


This can be filed under planning too but considering its importance we’re giving it some individual spotlight. Obviously you should only take a break if you and your business can afford it financially. As someone who is self-employed or a sole trader, your personal and business finances are more closely linked than the PAYE sector.

Budget to make sure that you can afford it and to make sure that your business will perform according to plan while you’re away. If your budget says it’s ok, you won’t spend your time on the beach worrying about your bank account.


Are there any tasks that you can automate while you’re away? We don’t just mean turning your email auto responder to on. If your business is active on social media you can use scheduling tools such as Hootsuite to keep your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles ticking over while you’re away. Perhaps you can set up automatic bank transfers before you go away to take care of your obligations.

What you can automate depends on your business of course, but if there are some tasks that are suited to it then make sure that ‘The Before You Go Away’ to do list has them on it.

Outsource or delegate

Do you employ staff? If you do, why not delegate your tasks to them? They have experience working within your business so they’re probably the best people to look after what needs to be done. Spend some time before you leave explaining the relevant details to them. It can be a great trust building exercise and they’re likely to feel empowered and motivated by the extra responsibility you’re placing in them while you’re away.

If you run your business alone, maybe outsourcing would help? It definitely doesn’t suit every business, but it might be worth looking into depending on your situation. If you will be closing your business while you’re away, make sure that you notify key clients or customers ahead of time. The last thing you want is to have to compromise business relationships that you have built up over time.


Old habits die hard and if you prefer to check in on the business while you’re away, cloud technology allows you to do that. With internet access, you can access online based software such as Big Red Cloud from anywhere in the world at any time and keep an eye on key aspects of your business.. Peace of mind is priceless after all.

Remember to leave emergency contact details before you head off, but after that, all we can recommend is for you to enjoy your well-earned break.

Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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