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  • Small business owners are lying to loved ones to get work done during the holidays – over half (69%) fib and say they are ‘going for a walk’
  • Christmas has become the annual business admin chore, with a quarter spending more than 20 hours over the break on back-office tasks
  • 69% of business owners have missed out on festivities with friends and family due to work demands

According to new research small business owners are lying to their friends and family members during the festive break so they can keep on top of their workload. The most popular excuse given by 69% of small business owners is ‘going for a walk’ to hide the fact they are catching up on work. This is followed by ‘I’m going to do some exercise’ (25%) and even ‘I’m going to the toilet’ (24%) in order to dupe people into thinking they aren’t working.

The new findings from cloud accounting software company Xero reveal that only 21% of small business owners will ‘switch off’ over the festive break. Seven in ten (69%) small business owners admit that they do not have time to do some admin tasks during office hours, resulting in them having to work through them during holidays. In fact, small business owners expect to work an average of 20.8 hours between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day on admin tasks such as expenses, chasing payments and paying invoices.

Top five excuses small business owners give their family and friends when working over the holidays:

  1. I’m going for a walk (62%)
  2. I’m going to do some exercise (25%)
  3. I’m going to the toilet (24%)
  4. I’m taking a call from a friend (10%)
  5. I’m popping to the shop (8%)

Xero reveals that over 1 in 4 small business owners (25%) will forgo festive celebrations with friends and family this year because of work, while two thirds (66%) have done so in the past. Almost six in ten small business owners (58%) say they will have to lie, or have lied in the past, to a loved one about not working to avoid arguments.

On average, small business owners take just 14 days holiday a year, despite the statutory annual leave allowance being 20 days. When asked about why they don’t feel able to take the time off, over 1 in 4 (27 per cent) say that their business would suffer, while 20% find it hard to switch off completely and 17% said they can’t afford to take time off.

The research also found that improving work/life balance and working fewer hours in 2018 was the number one New Year’s resolution for over half of small business owners (55%), while almost a quarter (23%) want to manage their cash flow more effectively. Of those who plan to cut down the amount of time spent on admin tasks this Christmas, around a third of small business owners said they would enlist the help of friends or family (35%), while 31% would try to put them off until the new year and 26% would ask their co-workers to help out.

Darren Upson, Director of Small Business at Xero said:

“Small business owners work incredibly hard throughout the year to keep their business operating at peak levels. This dedication to work can take its toll, and it’s a shame that the volume of simple administrative tasks are placing an unnecessary burden on small business owners, meaning they are unable to switch off during the festive break.

“It can be difficult to strike the right balance between our personal and working lives, but that’s not to say that small business owners shouldn’t strive to do just that. We know that businesses that use cloud technology to manage cash flow saves them 15 days a year on average, and this could free up valuable time for that all important rest and relaxation. It eliminates the time spent on manual administrative tasks such as invoicing and expense management.”