As a successful business owner, it's essential to understand how the business world keeps track of time. Business days are a way to stay on top of payroll, deliveries, invoices and taxes.
We'll go over precisely what a business day is, how to calculate them, and how to use them in your own business.
So, ready, set, go—here's what you need to know.
What Does a Business Day Mean?
In Western countries like the U.S., a business day means an 8-hour period of time (or one day) that takes place during the work week. Business days fall between Monday and Friday when normal work hours occur.
Business days exclude weekends and public holidays such as Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Labor Day. Remember, national holidays usually vary in different countries.
How Long is a Business Day?
So, how long is one business day exactly?
The length of a business day means an 8-hour time period during normal business hours, usually from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time.
Occasionally you will hear normal business hours referred to as banking hours, which often fall between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday in the Western world. So, when pinpointing the correct length of time for 1 business day, think of the number of hours a financial institution, like a bank, is open during the day.
While these hours are standard, some businesses may choose to use different hours of operation. For instance, some businesses may stay open later in the evening, while others may close early. Each company's regular business hours will differ depending on the organization and its customers' needs. An 8-hour work day for a construction company, for example, would be different than the typical 8-hour work day for a shoe store.
Why Are Business Days Important?
But why are business days so important, you ask? It's just a measure of time, after all.
First off, if you have a team, chances are they expect their paychecks on a regular basis. If a payday falls on the weekend or a holiday, your company's financial institution may very well be closed. It's usually best to pay your team the business day before, so make sure to stay on top of when that is exactly.
Business days are crucial to your tax reporting efforts. Like individual taxpayers, business owners must submit their taxes on a specific date, which always falls on a business day. However, the tax day changes yearly since specific dates don't always fall on a business day. For example, the tax filing deadline usually happens on April 15th. However, since April 15th falls on a Saturday in 2023, the tax filing deadline is the next business day—which is April 18th.
Another reason business days are important is they give businesses a way to communicate with their customers. Let's say a customer is applying for a loan, for example. In this case, the lender may say applications take 14 business days to process, and if it takes longer, the customer should follow up on the application's progress. Now the customer understands the process and knows what to expect after applying.
Business days can also set payment expectations. So, if you send an invoice to a customer stating it must be paid within 7 business days, they will know when payment must be sent.
Business Days vs. Working Days: What’s the Difference?
While business days and working days seem as though they are the same, they are a bit different. Although both pinpoint days of the week a business operates, workdays are not business days. Instead, work days are the calendar days that employees go to work.
So, if an employee works on a Saturday, for example, that wouldn’t be considered a business day, as the term is typically used. However, if that same employee works on a Tuesday, then they’d be working a traditional business day (which falls between Monday and Friday).
How Long is 2 Full Business Days?
When calculating 2 consecutive business days, look at days of the week excluding holidays or weekend days.
So, if it’s Tuesday, the next two consecutive business days would fall on the upcoming Wednesday and Thursday. However, if it’s Friday, the next two consecutive business days would fall on the following Monday and Tuesday since there is a weekend in between.
Here’s an example:
Suppose you order a PC from Lenovo with a 2-day shipping guarantee. Let’s further say that there is an asterisk by this and they say two full business days. If you purchased it on Thursday, your 2 business days would be Friday and Monday. So, you should receive your new PC by Monday.
How Long is 3 Business Days?
When calculating 3 business days, you’ll want to identify 3 consecutive days during the work week. So, let’s say you ordered a new dining room table on a Friday. The furniture store said it would arrive in your home in 3 business days. Since the next two consecutive days consist of Saturday and Sunday, you will have to wait Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of the following week until you receive your table. You should get it on Wednesday.
How Long is 5 Business Days?
Now that you've got the hang of it, let's try something a little more complicated—calculating 5 business days. Five business days are 5 days that fall consecutively between Monday and Friday.
Let's assume you order a new TV that has 5-day shipping. For example, if you order the TV on Thursday, 5 business days would fall during the following week on Wednesday.
How Business Owners Can Keep Up with Business Day Trends
For generations, the working world has used business days as a unit of measurement. While some companies are typically open on business days only, others are choosing to work weekends and bank holidays to keep up with trends in their industries.
For example, online retailers like Amazon are putting products in consumers' hands at a faster rate. As a result, many consumers now expect 2-day shipping and may choose the brand that gets them their package the fastest. So, while standard business days still fall between Monday and Friday, you may need to keep business operations moving through the weekend to compete.
Now that you're familiar with business days and how they work, you can keep your eye out for new trends worth capitalizing on as the business world continues to transform.