Adrian pearson is A VETERAN UK CHARTERED ACCOUNTANT AND the founder of ledgerscope - A SOFTWARE COMPANY MAking great tools for accountants in practice.

Put your own oxygen mask on first

I took last week off as holiday. I didn't go anywhere, I just had a break from the office and the daily work routine. It was a much-needed rest - as I am sure my colleagues here at Pearson & Associates will agree. I was jaded, had bogged myself down in unimportant detail and could feel myself getting narky and difficult to work with. Does this scenario seem familiar to you? As a small business owner yourself, do you recognise this situation?

Now, please think back to last time you travelled by plane. Just before take-off you would have been half listening to the cabin crew running through the safety announcements, after all we have heard it so many times. However, can you remember the bit about the oxygen masks, and how they will automatically fall from overhead in the event of a sudden loss of pressure? At this point we are always told "please make sure that you put on your own mask before helping others with theirs". Of course, we instinctively know that this makes sense, you can look after those around you much better when you are not gasping for air yourself.

I think this is a vital message for those of us running small businesses, It is easy to work longer and longer hours, to take on more and more tasks, because of a feeling of responsibility to your partners, employees and customers. You feel that you have to put yourself and your own needs last because you have everyone else to look after. But how well can you look after those around you if the life is slowly draining from you? You owe it to them to take a break, recharge your batteries and come back stronger and healthier. Only then are you in a position to give them the best you. Put your own oxygen mask on first.

Is beauty only skin deep?