Christmas is cancelled for a fifth of small business owners this year

But the intrusion of work into the personal life of small business owners doesn’t end with Christmas, as 28 per cent admitted to missing a loved one’s birthday, an anniversary or similar celebration because they couldn’t get away from work, according to XLN Business Services. Some one in ten also reported losing friends through working too hard and losing touch while running their business.

Dr. Alexandra Beauregard, assistant professor of employment relations and organisational behaviour at London School of Economics, says: “It’s a common misperception that owning your own business is a fast ticket to a good work-life balance. People think that when it’s your own company, you can set your own hours, and that’s true – but what that means in practice is that you often need to set yourself quite long and sometimes unsociable hours in order to keep the business going.

“As we can see from the survey results, these long or unsociable hours can have very negative repercussions for business owners – missing out on family life, on national holidays, on time with friends – in some cases, losing friendships altogether.

“As hard as it can be to make time for work-life balance, having a healthy personal life is essential for business owners’ well-being and, ultimately, that of their businesses. One way to avoid missing out on important personal events is to protect your personal time the same way you do your work hours. Identify your top priorities – birthdays, family events, social activities – and schedule them the same way you would a crucial business meeting: i.e. don’t let anything else interfere with that appointment.

“More generally, it helps to be disciplined during your personal time. With laptops, tablets and smartphones, it’s all too easy to keep working, taking calls or checking emails while you’re spending time with friends and family. This ’work creep’ gradually takes over and before you know it, you don’t really have any personal time left. As hard as it is for small business owners to ’switch off’, it’s essential for giving the brain a rest and for keeping your relationships healthy. Decide on a time to switch off and, barring emergencies, stick to it. Enlist the help of your loved ones – they’ll make sure you stick to it!”

Christmas isn’t set to be all work and no play for small business owners however, with 46 per cent saying they will take more than three days off this Christmas, and 29 per cent will take at least two. When asked what they would most like Santa to bring down the chimney for them this year, 64 per cent said a booming economy in 2014, with the next most sought-after gift being lower employer national insurance rates.

That’s where the Christmas cheer ends though, with 86 per cent saying they won’t be paying staff Christmas bonuses this year. Twenty-five per cent said they will have staff working for them over Christmas yet just 29 per cent will be paying staff extra for this work.

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