Burning the midnight oil. Climbing an uphill battle. Shouldering a mountain.
If you’re a business owner, these phrases are all a little close to the bone, right?
Just another day at the office!
As the founder and chief helmsman of Green Cloud for over a decade, I understand the relentless push and pull of entrepreneurial life.
The joy of a win, the sting of a setback, the constant hum of innovation, and the very real spectre of burnout lurking behind every demanding day.
It’s a word we’re often reluctant to use in the dogged world of business ownership.
But let’s face it. Burnout is real.
More importantly, it’s manageable.
We are not helpless vessels adrift in a tumultuous sea of responsibilities. No, we are skilled sailors, and our journey need not end in a shipwreck.
So, sit back, grab a cup of your favourite brew, and let me share some of the strategies that have helped me keep my sails intact and my ship on course in the digital storm.
Strategies designed to acknowledge burnout, understand it, and navigate it
Every storm eventually breaks, and the following calm is worth the voyage.
What are the main causes of burnout for business owners?
Listen, we’re all different. What stresses me might be a breeze for you, and vice versa!
But when it comes to burnout, there are often a few common denominators:
- Excessive Workload: One of the primary culprits of burnout is an overwhelming workload. You’ve got too much on that plate of yours! You’re responsible for daily operational tasks, the company’s strategic direction, staff management, and customer relations. When the workload surpasses your capacity, it’s like trying to keep a tidal wave at bay with a teacup – it’s simply unsustainable.
- Lack of Control: One major contributor to burnout is the feeling of powerlessness that might result from having little control over your workload, working conditions, or the company’s future. Or so you think – stress can leave us unable to see the wood from the trees, thus letting a lack of control ensue.
- Work-Life Imbalance: As a business owner, it’s easy to blur the lines between professional and personal lives. You’re constantly working, answering emails at the dinner table, or mulling over business strategies during your kid’s football match. Imbalance can take a toll, leading to physical and emotional exhaustion, especially if you find yourself checking emails at 3 a.m. like me!
- Lack of Support: Going it alone can be isolating. The pressure can mount without a supportive network – be it a mentor, reliable employees, or simply understanding family members. But a lack of support can lead to feelings of overwhelm and, ultimately, burnout.
- Lack of Personal Fulfilment: This may be surprising, but burnout isn’t always about excess. Sometimes it’s about deficiency – particularly when it comes to personal fulfilment. If you spend all your time on tasks you find tedious, unchallenging, or uninteresting, burnout can creep up on you. The boring stuff needs doing, but finding a way to enjoy it is crucial – this is where delegation proves necessary!
These factors aren’t just warnings to heed; they’re signposts guiding us towards necessary changes and healthier work habits.
Knowing the enemy is half the battle.
The warning signs of business owner burnout
Are you feeling like a robot on low batteries?
Let’s address those red flag moments that could signify you’re heading for a rendezvous with the notorious business burnout.
Catching these signs early could save you from an unwanted dance with burnout.
Zombie-like Fatigue: If you’re dragging yourself around like a sleep-deprived zombie, constantly drained of energy, even for tasks that used to be a cakewalk, this might be burnout knocking at your door.
Vanishing Productivity: Notice a worrying dip in your work output despite being chained to your desk more than usual? If your work quality is on a rollercoaster ride downhill or your error count is mounting faster than a mountain climber, burnout could be the villain behind this plot twist.
Sleep? What’s That?: Are you tossing and turning in bed, wrestling with sleep, when you should be dreaming about your next big idea? The exhaustion-sleeplessness paradox is a telltale symptom of our not-so-welcome guest, burnout.
Ouch, That Hurts!: Burnout is an all-rounder that loves to express itself physically. Unexplained headaches, a grumpy stomach, or any discomfort that seems to be stress’s best friend could be burnout sending you ‘get well soon’ cards.
Enthusiasm on Holiday: Burnout could be hiding in the shadows if you lose that spark for your work and your job feels like a dementor sucking out all joy. Lack of motivation and ever-growing cynicism are burnout’s favourite party tricks.
Focus Gone AWOL: If your concentration is on annual leave, you constantly forget things, or if your organisational skills seem like a distant memory, burnout might be playing hide and seek with you.
These red flags might seem a tad scary, but spotting them early is your first victory against burnout.
Acknowledging these signs is not a mark of defeat. It’s more like being the hero in the first act of your self-care story, preparing for a comeback!
Now, who’s ready to win this battle?
How to avoid burnout as a business owner and what to do if you’ve already reached it
Alright, we’ve met the villain called Burnout; now let’s talk about some hero tactics to prevent it and shake it off when it strikes.
First, let’s put on the cape of prevention:
How to Dodge Burnout
Juggle Your Workload with Finesse: Ensure your workload is balanced like a well-cooked meal. Recognise your capacity like your favourite superhero knows their power limits. Don’t be shy about passing the baton; delegate tasks where necessary.
Set Clear Job Targets: Eliminate the other villain called ‘stress’ by setting defined, achievable work goals. Think of it as your mission brief.
Ask for Support, Seek Recognition: Build an Avengers-like supportive work atmosphere where every win, big or small, is celebrated. If you’re a one-man/woman show, throw yourself a party for your achievements.
Spice up Your Work: Add variety to your work to avoid villainous boredom. Keep it interesting, challenging, and engaging like a superhero thriller.
Be Your Own Caretaker: Consider your health your secret superpower. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, mindfulness, or simply winding down daily should be part of your hero’s routine.
Now, if burnout has already snuck up on you, here’s how you counterattack:
What to Do When Burnout Strikes
Call the Professionals: Reach out to mental health wonder whizzes like psychologists, counsellors, or therapists for some backup. They’re equipped with the right strategies to tackle burnout.
Take a Breather: Just like Superman and Wonder Woman need downtime, so do you. Take some time off for a rejuvenating holiday or even a restful weekend.
Realign Your Compass: Reconsider your life’s Mission Statement. Ensure your work-life balance is not as wobbly as a tightrope walker on a windy day.
Adopt Healthy Battle Tactics: Ditch the caffeine shots, the stress smokes, or the midnight oil burning. Exercise, meditation, or quality time with your squad are healthier ways to cope.
Assemble Your Support Team: Rope in friends, family, or join support groups. Sharing your journey helps combat the burnout blues.
Remember, like in every good hero story; burnout is a bad guy who can be defeated.
Tune into your body’s distress signals and seek help when required.
Ready to save your day?
Extinguishing Burnout: The Business Edition
Ever feel like running a business is like being on a rollercoaster operated by a caffeinated squirrel?
It’s full of unexpected dips and hair-raising turns, which can be exhilarating and exhausting.
Even thrill-seekers need a breather!
Think of your business journey as a cross-country road trip.
You wouldn’t risk getting stranded because you ignored the petrol warning light. That’s the stuff of horror movies, and trust me, nobody wants to star in “Burnout: The Middle-of-Nowhere Edition.”
Even the darkest night has a dawn.
By watching for the hitchhiking signs of burnout and knowing when to pump the brakes, you’ll be zipping back on the motorway to success.
Already feeling the burn(out)?
It’s okay to detour, ask Siri for directions, or take the scenic route to mental well-being. Sometimes, the detours are where the best life experiences are found!
You’re in a convoy, not a lone rider. Burnout is just a pit stop for many, not the final destination. Keep that business motor humming, but don’t forget to recharge your own batteries. After all, a well-rested business owner is a high-octane powerhouse, ready to zoom towards the checkered flag!
So take that coffee break, enjoy that lunch in the sun, and remember to have a blast along the way.
Life’s too short not to savour the ride!