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Starting a new business can seem like a babysitting job. Like babies, your business needs full attention and commitment to grow, meaning long working hours, endless decisions to make, and sometimes sleepless nights.
This can lead to severe burnout, exhaustion, and loss of entrepreneurial passion. So, how can you avoid burnout as an entrepreneur? The best way to avoid burnout as an entrepreneur is to ensure you get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and maintain a good work-life balance. When you feel stressed, I encourage you to seek help by talking to mentors, friends, and health professionals.
Read on to find out how to avoid burnout in your small business, including its most common symptoms. You might also enjoy reading: How To Start a Business While Still Employed?
Data on Entrepreneurial Burnout
Small business owners work long hours in the United States, far above the national average. Around one-third of entrepreneurs work more than 50 hours a week, while a fifth work 60 or more hours.
Sometimes, small business owners work twice as much as traditional 9-5 employees.
One study revealed that 42% of all entrepreneurs interviewed reported burnout, with the number expected to rise in the coming years. Worse yet, 53% of those surveyed admitted that burnout negatively affected their business.
Burnout can affect your mind and has severe consequences on the success and health of your enterprise.
How to avoid burnout in your business
As an entrepreneur, I believe it is essential to find ways to recharge our batteries from time to time to help us avoid burnout.
I encourage you to take rest breaks whenever you feel burned out by work. Here are the best ways to avoid burnout in your business:
1- Get organized
Lack of organization in one’s day-to-day activities can cause stress and anxiety among beginner entrepreneurs. To avoid burnout, you need control over your daily business activities, such as your file records, administrative functions, and other essential data.
Disorganization can damage an entrepreneur’s health. So organize your work and personal life using journals.
A journal allows you to prioritize important matters of the day. Fortunately, you can use various planning apps to plan your day, week, month, and year.
2- Schedule your time
Time is the most expensive asset you have as an entrepreneur. However, it is also the most misused commodity in the world. Poor time management can cause you stress and lead to business failure.
On the other hand, having a packed schedule increases your productivity because you will only spend work time on relevant activities.
I am not saying you should not spend time on non-work-related activities. You can schedule time for breaks or family time away from work time.
Scheduling will free up time to rest, thus minimizing the chances of burnout. Successful entrepreneurs allocate every second of their lives. And while this may look challenging, it contributes to stress-free business success.
I encourage you to invest in time management software, such as ClickUp and Notion. If you are looking for ways to take your time management skills to the next level, I suggest you read the following books:
- The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss.
- The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth About Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan.
Many small business owners experience burnout because they try to run their startups as a one-person show.
If you refuse to let go of some aspects of your business and trust others to handle these tasks, it can overwhelm you and derail your business profitability.
You probably remember the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,”, and so is your business. I suggest you focus on your strength and delegate other tasks to maximize the use of your time.
What if you lack the budget to hire full-time employees? You can outsource experts in that industry to help you when needed. This way, you handle major aspects of your business and get home refreshed.
4- Learn to say no
“No” is one the most powerful word anyone could say. Nevertheless, it is challenging for most entrepreneurs, especially during hard economic times.
When you want high profits, you can find it challenging to turn down work. But taking on jobs you don’t want is a sure route to burnout.
How do you learn to say no? You could begin by creating an ideal client list and projects, then compare any incoming work with the list. If the job is unworthy of your time, say no. Alternatively, you can refer the client to a related business to build relationships.
5- Set definite office hours
People working 9-5 jobs know that it is unhealthy to carry work home. Similarly, entrepreneurs should set definite office hours and stick to them.
If you allow your business to infringe on your rest time, you will experience burnout in the long run. Work in your business will always be there; therefore, there is no point in trying to do all the work in a few days.
While some small business owners think they have to work long hours to succeed, the reality is, sticking to specific work hours helps you achieve more.
I believe humans work best through a designed res-run cycle. Spend yourself during work hours and then learn to take time off to be with family and friends and have fun.
6. Take care of your health
Some workaholics need more time to eat or enjoy quality sleep. They eat while working or sometimes skip lunch to attend to business matters.
This can be a sure way to burn out.
So, how do you take care of yourself? Ensure you have a balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep to function optimally.
Investing in yourself means investing in the business. Your body and soul need nourishing to propel you to success. Taking care of yourself keeps your mind fresh and ready to tackle challenging tasks.
7- Get support from mentors
Life as an entrepreneur can seem lonely. All major decisions are on your shoulder, and when things get tough, you may have no one to share your frustrations and worries with.
You can break down if you bottle up these emotions. I encourage you to find a support system through coaching and mentorship programs. Experienced entrepreneurs can hold your hand and provide needed guidance.
With such loyal support, the entrepreneurial load could seem lighter and the journey manageable.
8- Know your stressors
You may love to do some tasks and find some less enjoyable in business. You may need to work on performing less enjoyable tasks and put them off. The problem is these tasks can accumulate and cause more stress when you handle them.
If you realize that performing specific tasks triggers stress, you can arrange to complete them early when you are energetic.
Alternatively, you can delegate them to your team. As an entrepreneur, you need to be level-headed. So identify stressors and find effective ways to solve them as quickly as possible.
9- Change your routine
This method can help entrepreneurs who work from home. Staying in the same environment and constantly seeing the same things is demoralizing.
How do you avoid this potential burnout trigger? Change your scenery by working from different places. For instance, you can shift to a coffee shop or the local library.
Furthermore, I find out that working outdoors can also boost your serotonin levels.
10- Establish a system and reward yourself
Another way to avoid burnout in your small business is to set clear goals and build a system to help you see where you are going.
Short-term daily goals can help you create a system that will motivate you to see the bigger picture. And when you reach certain milestones, remember to reward yourself. Human beings work well with a good reward system. So congratulate yourself for the strides you have made.
The feeling of progress can alleviate burnout.
However, the question is: how do you know you are experiencing burnout in your business?
Signs and symptoms of business burnout
Even though burn-out is not a diagnosable medical condition, the World Health Organisation (WHO) classifies it as an occupational phenomenon.
According to the WHO, three dimensions characterize burn-out:
- Feelings of lack of energy or fatigue.
- Increased mental distance from your job, feelings of negativism or cynicism related to your job.
- Lower professional efficacy.
In addition, I suggest you check out the following symptoms to know whether you need a break:
- Constant tiredness: Constant exhaustion is the number one symptom of entrepreneurial burnout. It may be challenging to get out of bed in the morning, or you could fall asleep during the day.
- Low productivity: Entrepreneurial burnout contributes to low efficacy, motivation, and poor focus. This can lead to low productivity at work and home.
- Emotional changes: Small business burnout can affect an entrepreneur’s personality, leading to frequent irritability and cynicism. You may realize you are blowing out of proportion minor misunderstandings with your employees and partners.
- Physical symptoms: Extreme exhaustion from overworking can cause an entrepreneur to collapse or faint.
- Mental illness: You may experience bouts of depression, psychological stress, and anxiety because of burnout.
What to read next:
- 10 Amazing Ways to Bootstrap Your Business.
- How to Become a Creative Entrepreneur? (Here’s how!)
- Is Owning Laundromat Profitable? (11 Pros and cons of owning a Laundromat)
Go slow on the gas pedestal.
“Hardworking” is one of the qualities of a successful entrepreneur. However, you know it is time to slow down when you stretch talent, time, and resources because of non-stop activity.
The human brain is powerful, but it can break down when subjected to extreme stress. You may become unproductive and injure the health of your business.
So, rather than view rest as laziness, consider it a time to recharge. Your physical and mental health far outweigh any profits you can earn from a business.
Work with others and follow the tips in this article to enjoy your entrepreneurial journey.
Are you a small business owner? What tips have helped you avoid burnout?