A business with five or fewer employees falls into this special category of "micro" businesses, enterprises such as coffee shops, corner markets and that shop where one guy spins up his grandmother's pizza pie for a living. Small they might be, but these microbusinesses still make up about 10 percent of the jobs in America. For the owners this means a lot more responsibility and often a lot more time in the back office.
"One in five U.S. microbusiness owners (20%) report not taking any vacation days in the past 12 months," according to the Gallup survey, "with another 21% saying they took a week or less. Almost half (9% of microbusiness owners overall) [say] they don't expect to take a vacation in the next year either."
On the surface this sounds like a pretty terrible deal for the would-be entrepreneur. Almost half of all people who start their own business have to live with less than a week's vacation per year, if they get one at all. To make matters worse, about a third of all microbusiness owners say they have to work a second job in order to support themselves, further limiting the opportunities for time off.
That's the bad news. For the owner of the independent bookstore down the street that actually makes it, though, the deal gets much better. According to Gallup nearly 30 percent of all microbusiness owners report taking a month or more off per year, considerably higher than the 12 days the average American gets. The difference is largely in duration. Every year a business survives gives its owners a little more time off, indicating the benefits that come from stability.
Once in control of their own destiny, with a little bit of success under their belts, these business owners seem to capitalize on their success by taking considerably more time for themselves. Unfortunately the Gallup survey didn't break the data down by industry, leaving relatively little information as to how the owner of even a successful business can afford to take 60 days off in a year.
As to the business owners who don't take any time off, they seem to fall into two groups.
"While microbusiness owners who don't take vacation time are more likely than their peers who do vacation to report struggling with their work/life balance and being dissatisfied with their standard of living," the survey reports, "some appear to be energized by the workload."
Some entrepreneurs get overwhelmed by the demands of their business, but some stick around because they found their dream job.
--Written for MainStreet by Eric Reed, a freelance journalist who writes frequently on the subjects of career and travel. You can read more of his work at his website www.wanderinglawyer.com.