With all the challenges the economy is facing, now is a great time to learn how to avoid burnout as a business owner. At the top of the list of reasons to start a business is achieving freedom, both personal and financial freedom.
But who knew this freedom would come at a cost? The costs include burnout and potential mental health issues. For example, while you are the boss, you may work longer than an average employee.
For this reason, you must understand how to avoid burnout as soon as you suspect it. Below, I’ll show you how to handle burnout like an experienced entrepreneur.
Causes and Signs of Burnout among Small Business Owners
Do small business owners suffer burnout? The simple answer to this question is yes. A recent survey of small business owners indicated that over 63% of entrepreneurs have dealt with or are currently dealing with burnout. Another study indicated that over 49% of entrepreneurs are at risk of at least one mental illness.
Burnout is characterized by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a reduced sense of accomplishment in one's profession. It causes you to feel exhausted emotionally, mentally, and physically. Moreover, it detaches you from your work and the world.
The cognitive-affective model proposes that burnout develops due to prolonged exposure to stress emerging from a long-term perceived inability to meet situational demands. Frequent mental fatigues and physical exhaustion are the common warning signs of developing burnout.
However, the general signs of burnout include:
Change in appetite and sleeping habits
Feeling helpless and hopeless
Decreased sense of accomplishment
Withdrawal from responsibility
Taking out your frustration on others
All these signs may occur interchangeably depending on your burnout stage.
Depression also causes burnout and it can be caused by varying factors. The causes of depression can be summarized into three:
Overworking – your long working hours and little rest put you at a high risk of burnout
The drive to succeed – the urge to succeed as a business owner is a major cause of burnout. The urge forces you to push beyond your limits.
Lack of recognition – trying to do it all by yourself puts you at a greater risk of burnout.
Now that you know the causes and signs, the following are ways to avoid probable burnout:
1. Control Your Passion
It is said that there is a thin line between love and hate. The same can be said about passion and obsession. The passion you have for growing your business is a good thing. However, there could be a dark side to this urge.
Please don't take it as a compliment when your friends or family joke that you are "married to your work." It is an easy warning sign that your passion for the business is shifting to the dark side.
It starts with working till late or taking your work home; before you know it, you are a workaholic. It is an easy trap to fall into, particularly if you are one of those people that set high expectations for yourself.
Such unrealistic demands increase your burnout risks. You will constantly be under pressure to achieve unrealistic goals, hence damaging your work-life balance. Being obsessed with your business is also not good for your mental health. You increase your vulnerability to mental health issues, such as depression, due to small setbacks in your business.
2. Delegate Some Tasks
You are not the only one feeling skeptical about delegating tasks in your business. According to a Gallup study, 75% of entrepreneurs have limited-to-low levels of delegator talent. The study found this to be a huge disadvantage to their ability to create teams that positively impact business performance.
It may not be easy at first to trust that another person will be closely passionate about your business success the same way you do. However, risk-taking is one of the defining attributes of an entrepreneur. Therefore, you shouldn't have a hard time entrusting other people to contribute to your business's success.
Note: Legally, a limited corporation is considered an artificial person. That should teach you that your business can thrive independently of you. Pouring your heart and soul into your business doesn't guarantee success. So, there is no harm in watching from the sidelines as a manager on your team works towards delivering the agreed goals.
3. Make Automation Your Biggest Ally
You may have difficulty trusting others to contribute to your business's success, but you shouldn't have such a hard time trusting that technology will play a huge role in your success.
You are lucky to be operating a business at a time when you can easily use AI tools, even for free. Think of the case of Amazon. The company has taken advantage of technological advancement to delegate tasks in its warehouses.
You, too, can reduce your labor costs without experiencing burnout from doing all the tasks alone. Business automation allows you to improve efficiency in performing your business tasks. It also contributes to improved accuracy and timeliness in performing various business operations.
Most of the tasks you perform in your business are repetitive. For example, sending marketing emails and preparing client invoices are repetitive tasks. You can eliminate these tasks from your schedule entirely by acquiring a business automation system. Once you have the system, it will integrate the relevant automation tools to perform most of the repetitive tasks in your business.
Moreover, with the right automation tools, you don't necessarily have to hire permanent employees. You can save on labor costs and still achieve business success by hiring a few virtual assistants to help you run your business.
4. Develop a Flexible Schedule
Developing a schedule is important, but that’s not all. You have to respect the schedule by sticking to it. For example, if your schedule says your work day ends at five, don't make it a habit to extend that to seven. Your schedule reflects your personal and business goals. Therefore, one of the secrets to respecting your schedule is setting realistic goals.
There is no harm in dreaming and being ambitious with your business vision. However, to avoid falling into the trap of burnout, you must realize that this dream is achievable in stages. Just like Rome wasn't built in a day, your daily schedule is the tool to build your empire brick by brick daily.
Ensure that your schedule includes daily breaks. The flexible nature of your schedule means you can afford to extend your breaks when you are experiencing any burnout symptoms we have discussed.
Note: Your sleeping hours are vital to include in your schedule. Ensure you have gotten the minimum recommended 7 hours of sleep per night. Sleep is a scientifically proven remedy for dealing with stress and burnout.
5. Unplug from Your Business Completely
Taking healthy breaks is a sure way to prevent and counter your burnout. That is if you are serious about your time off. First, it means going off the grid completely. During this time, you will have nothing to do with your business. It will be your time to enjoy your "me time."
During this time, engage in activities that relax your mind. Remember, burnout is a product of prolonged stress exposure.
Any activity that reduces stress levels works to your advantage in reducing burnout. For example, you could explore other hobbies you are passionate about, like mountain climbing or adventuring. Once in a while, treat yourself to a vacation. You deserve to reward yourself with a vacation for your work to maintain your business afloat.
On the other hand, you can make some personal care activities part of your daily routine. The following are some self-care activities that will not take more than an hour of your daily routine.
Note: the key to maintaining a healthy work-life balance is learning how and when to say NO. This magical word can save you the pain of burnout and ensure you have enough time to spend with your family.
Let's Help You Prevent Your Burnout
Learning when to ask for help is among the ways you can reduce your risk of burnout. Start now by asking for professional help automating your business systems. We will help you appreciate business automation, an ally that’ll boost your fight against burnout.