It takes a lot of energy to start and successfully run a small business, which is why being an entrepreneur can result in burnout.
While burnout is a common experience among small business owners (I’ve experienced it myself a few times), that doesn’t mean you have to accept it as part of your normal routine.
That’s why we’re providing this list of best practices to help you avoid feeling like you’re running on empty.
Surround Yourself with Support.
Being a small business owner can sometimes feel isolating and overwhelming. When you join a support group (e.g., Facebook groups specifically geared to your trade or your town’s organizations for entrepreneurs), you find people who can lift you up and assure you that you’re doing OK. Often, the most helpful thing is to know that you’re not alone and that you have people who can guide you or offer help in other ways.
I often reach out to my network of fellow small business owners when I’m faced with obstacles. I also value these people as friends; so even if I need to get my mind off my business, I can have great conversations so I can de-stress.
Make Sure You Schedule Time Off.
You don’t want to blur the lines between work and home. Naturally, most entrepreneurs start their business from working at home until they can afford a storefront (unless your plan is to open a physical storefront). This can make it difficult to remember when to work and when to take a break. Regardless of your trade, following a 9-to-5 schedule is still important,even if you’re not in a corporate office setting.
This also means allotting time for either a short break or vacation. Just like a car needs gas to run, you need energy to function.
Take Care of You So You Can Take Care of Others.
Overexertion can turn into burnout quickly. Not only that, though — it also can make your products or services suffer. In other words, when you’re not feeling on top of things, it’s difficult to show your best self as a business owner.
I often acknowledge when I need to take a break, and trust that a few hours (or days) of rest won’t affect my business. I also make sure I exercise, hydrate, and eat well so I can try to feel my best every day. Mindfulness is another really helpful technique; it can help you be self-aware and take the right action when you are feeling off or sick.
Make Time to Delegate.
If possible in the early stages of your business, learn to delegate more often and effectively. Everyone has weaknesses, and whether you need to work with an agency, hire a consultant, or search for a full-time employee, it’s important to ensure you don’t attempt work you don’t have the skillset for.
Also, depending on your business, the demand from your customers may be too much for one person. So make sure you’re on top of hiring the best talent, which will also boost your business’s reputation.
Sometimes You Need to Say No.
Turning down customers may feel scary, but if you don’t have the time to provide your product or services, it’s okay to say no. It won’t cause you to lose business; in fact, if you try to squeeze in more work, you’ll find yourself experiencing burnout. Plus, working when you’re tired can cause you to lose customers from lack of quality.
There have been times when I’ve had to limit the number of projects I can do in a week; after all, I’m only one person, and I value my personal time. Don’t be afraid to communicate with your customers when you’re taking a break; it may help them to respect your honesty.
Make a List of Priorities.
While you may have hundreds of tasks to complete, there is only so much you can achieve in one day. Taking time to list priorities is very helpful in avoiding burnout. Let’s say you have 20 things you want to achieve in one week, and each task varies in how much time it takes to complete. By creating a list, you also can think about what each action item requires.
For example, maybe you want to submit your taxes, but you need to compile your list of business expenses first. If taxes aren’t due for a couple of weeks, you could prioritize tracking down your expenses and save the tax forms for a later time.
You’ll also feel more confident in your schedule by making a list of priorities. Knowing you have taken the time to be organized will help you feel successful and prepared to tackle anything, including unexpected obstacles.
I love writing about the small business experience because I happen to be a small business owner - I've had a freelance copywriting business for over 10 years. In addition to that, I also head up the content strategy here at Simply Business. Reach out if you have a great idea for an article or just want to say hi!
Mariah writes on a number of topics such as small business planning, contractor insurance, and business licenses.
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