In more than 20 years of retailing, I have only once had more than a week away from my business. So when friends invited me to spend a week in Las Vegas at their daughter’s wedding this June, followed by a two-week drive around California, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Shortly after I received a second invitation to join another friend in China, my wife’s homeland, in May.

At first I couldn’t wait, but by the time April came around, the business was busier than ever, and if it were not for the fact they were close friends, I could easily have cancelled. So, fully committed, I started planning for my absence.

There were three key areas I had to address: staff, stock and banking. On the staffing front, I left my manageress to hold the reins. She has been with me for many years, and although has never had to take on so much before, was a star, worked her heart out and kept everything running.

Stock was another big headache, but I filled the stockroom to its limits before leaving, and with great support from one of my cash & carry drivers our shelves were full throughout my absence.

Banking was my biggest problem. With PayPoint, Lottery and an ATM, there’s a lot of cash moving around and I didn’t want to upset PayPoint with any rejected direct debits, as they are not the most understanding. I took my laptop with me so that I could oversee everything and pay staff wages. Sounds easy, but on three occasions Lloyds TSB blocked my accounts and I had to make a lot of expensive calls to prove the transactions were legitimate.

All in all, though, I had the most amazing time away and would not hesitate to do it again. I know we all say there isn’t enough time to get away, and that we can’t leave our business to others to run, but trust me, it will do you a world of good, both mentally and physically.