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SME owners run risk of festive season burnout

by OnDeck Australia,   Dec 17, 2019


One-third of SME owners have no plans to take time off this Christmas, and among those that do, half will have a ‘workation’, staying in touch with work even while on holiday.


  • One in three (30%) SME owners have no plans to take time off this year, with 55% saying their business is too dependent on them.
  • 70% of SME owners do intend to take a break though 49% say they will keep working while on holiday.
  • 95% of SME owners stay connected to work by checking emails while on vacation.


SYDNEY, December 17, 2019: The Christmas/New Year period may be the holiday season for most Australians but not for the nation’s 2.3 million SMEs[1].  Research by leading online lender OnDeck confirms that one in three (30%) SME owners have no plans to take time off this year. Among the 70% that do intend to take a break, a holiday is likely to be a ‘workation’, with 95% of SME owners saying they check emails while away from their business.


Mr Cameron Poolman, CEO of OnDeck Australia, said, “The Christmas/New Year period is the peak trading period of the calendar for many SMEs so it is understandable that many small business owners are reluctant to take time off. But having some down time over the festive season is essential to avoid burnout.”


OnDeck’s research found that holidays can be a rare luxury for SME owners. Only one in two (50%) have taken a holiday in the last six months. One in four (26%) have not had a break from their business in the past four years. Six percent – potentially 138,000 SME owners (based on 2.3 million SMEs)– say they have never taken time off   from their business.


SME owners report three key barriers to taking a holiday:

  • 55% say the business is too dependent on them
  • 50% cannot afford a break
  • 32% say they do not have enough time.

“Taking care of yourself is taking care of the business. When the person running an enterprise becomes overly fatigued, the business can suffer, this makes it critical to embrace opportunities to take time out and recharge this festive season,” said Mr Poolman.


Five ways for SME owners to avoid burnout


1) Review your calendar

Find a time in your schedule that has the least number of deliverables due, meetings, etc. Carve out those dates and book the time you need to get away.


2) Prepare employees

Select an employee you trust to steer the ship in your absence. Make sure the person left in charge knows what decisions they are allowed to make and what needs to wait until you return.


3) Let clients know in advance

If you have a client-based business, let them know that you’re taking a break and when you’ll be back. Make sure they know who to contact in your absence.


4) Schedule check-in times

Set an agreed time or day with your family when you will check-in with your business. Then devote the rest of your time to family and relaxation.


5) Plan cashflow needs in advance

Forecast the cashflow needs of the business to ensure adequate working capital is available in your absence. If necessary, have finance in place before heading off on vacation.



About OnDeck

OnDeck (NYSE: ONDK) is the proven leader in transparent and responsible online lending to small business. Founded in 2006, the company pioneered the use of data analytics and digital technology to make real-time lending decisions and deliver capital rapidly to small businesses online.  Today, OnDeck offers a wide range of term loans and lines of credit customized for the needs of small business owners. OnDeck has provided over $10 billion in loans to customers in 700 different industries across the United States, Canada and Australia. In Australia, OnDeck is backed by leading accounting software provider MYOB and has a 5-star rating from Trust Pilot. For more information, visit


About the research

AltFi research was conducted online in April 2019 by Honeycomb Strategy across 430 SME owners Australia-wide. The survey included SMEs with less than 50 employees, annual turnover of $50,000-$5 million, and in operation for at least 12 months.



Media Contacts:

Anthony O’Brien

Corpwrite Australia

+61 (0) 411 578 818


[1] Australian Bureau of Statistics 8165.0 – Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits, June 2014 to June 2018


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