Profit Minded

Business owners redefine “vacation”

Summer is the season that tests your entrepreneurial mettle more than others: Do you love being your own boss enough to skip the family vacation again?

Last year we reported on a survey that revealed nearly half of small business owners did not have time to take a summer vacation in 2012. Most of those who did have time said they would work while away. So it seems good news that 63 percent of small business people this year say they have committed to take one summer vacation, according to a survey conducted last month by j2 Global. The provider of business cloud services and digital media polled more than 2,500 U.S. small business owners and employees who are customers of its eVoice, eFax, and Campaigner services.

infographic: j2 Global

The definition of vacation, however, seems to have changed. "Freedom or release from duty, business, or activity," is one way Dictionary.com still translates the word. Last month, we reported results of a similar survey which asked small business owners, "How frequently do you end up working on your 'vacation time'?" All but 15 percent replied "sometimes" or "always." And today's j2 survey results indicate that nearly two-thirds of small business people who are taking a vacation plan to bring their work along with them.

Mobile technologies and cloud services are in part to blame. Though the tools make it easier for small business owners to get their jobs done, they’re also making it harder for any one to truly get away from work.

Mike Pugh, vice president of marketing for j2 Global, says the upside is that cloud and mobile solutions allow small businesses to "work hard on their own terms." For instance, more than half of those polled said they could see themselves working entirely from an iPad or tablet within the next year. “Tech-savvy owners are forecasting a bright future as they lead the charge in technology adoption and push us toward a more nimble and productive mobile economy,” Pugh says.

Contrary to the complaints of older generations that youngsters are absorbed in their mobile devices, the j2 Global survey found that more senior owners and workers are the most likely to stay tethered to their devices while on vacation: 43 percent of Generation-Xers (age 34-48) plan to work during vacation, and 40 percent of Baby Boomers (age 49-67) will too.

Millennials (age 33 or younger) might be less prone to workaholism, or are working so hard that they need the break more than older colleagues do: only 34 percent of them will work on vacation.

Maybe it's the lack of responsibility or awareness that keeps Millennials upbeat, but it could be the occasional down time they get in the sun: those 33 and younger have a sunnier outlook than their elders; 94 percent are optimistic for business growth this year, up from 85 percent last year, according to j2’s survey.

Optimism decreases with age, but is up across all generations: 91 percent of Gen X and 87 percent of boomers are optimistic—up from 81 percent and 71 percent, respectively, last year. Vacationing or not, at least business owners are seeing more sunshine.

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