Anyone considering convenience retailing as a profession should understand that holidays will be few and far between. I started in 1991 and have had only five breaks of a week or more in that time.

It was a sacrifice I was prepared to make in developing my business and providing some financial security for the future. And I was always happier behind the counter rather than lazing on a beach somewhere, sad as it may seem to some.

For those who have family to keep things running, taking a break is quite straightforward, but that's not the case for me. Fortunately, I have a good team of managers who I can trust to look after my interests.

You need good planning to ensure all the many responsibilities that you undertake as owner are maintained during your absence. I have more than 20 staff and process their wages and payments. Then there is all the cash management to ensure takings arrive in the correct accounts in time to meet all the outgoings. Most vital for me is the buying. As an independent I buy from a large number of suppliers and getting the best deal is key to success.

I generated staff schedules in advance and set up wage payments based on scheduled hours. Bank transfers were set up online and staff were instructed when to bank. I stocked up so we wouldn't run low while I was away.

The day before I was due to leave, one of my managers was signed off for weeks with a football injury; the other managers just had to cope.

I had a wonderfully relaxing week, but caught the obligatory bug on the plane home and then lots of staff rang in sick soon after my return, so within a few days I was in need of another break.

The key to it all is good staff and good planning. While I was away, everything ran smoothly. Roll on the next break!