For many entrepreneurs, things begin well.
With a passion for their business idea, and probably one eye on the dollar, they begin to work for themselves with a clear head and determination.
And for a while, everything is fine. A passion and a commitment for what they are doing can help them overcome any obstacles in their way.
But for some, things begin to change. To avoid business failure, many entrepreneurs work overtime to bring in the coin. They suffer sleepless nights worrying about their business profits. Because of self-employment, they are forced to work when feeling ill because bills still need to be paid. And as this study shows, their mental health takes a beating.
For many entrepreneurs, burnout is a very real possibility.
So, what about you?
If you have started your own business, you need to be aware of the signs of burnout. By knowing what they are, you might be able to help yourself before you become too exhausted to work. In this article, we will be looking at the signs and solutions to burnout. Read them, heed them, and be mindful of them moving forward.
The signs of burnout you need to watch out for:
You know you have hit burnout when you show signs of both physical and emotional exhaustion. These include…
We can all feel tired from time to time, but if you feel exhausted ALL of the time, and can barely get yourself out of bed to face the day ahead, then you have probably hit burnout.
These are the symptoms closely associated with stress and include chest pains, dizziness, nervous palpitations, and headaches. While reducing your stress will help, you should still see your doctor, as any of these issues could lead to other health conditions.
The stress and worry of running a business can cause a few sleepless nights. However, if you regularly struggle to sleep, despite feeling exhausted, then burnout has probably taken hold.
Exhaustion and stress can weaken our immune systems, and because of this, you may be catching colds, and falling prey to other infections on a too regular basis.
We can all be prone to bursts of irritability to objects, the people around us, and to ourselves, but if you are getting angry on a regular basis, especially if these outbursts are borderline violent, then you need to get help immediately.
If you have noticed any of the above, then you do need to get help. Make that appointment with your doctor and/or mental health therapist without delay. And consider taking a break from your business. An extended holiday or the decision to delegate to others might be necessary before the effects of burnout take a greater hold on you.
Be mindful too for these signs. You may not have hit burnout yet, but if any of the following are true to you, then you might be on a collision course with this very serious issue.
Feelings of dread
When looking at the work you have to do all day, you might start to worry and feel overwhelmed by your to-do list. Where once you were happy to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in, you might now be in the position where you would rather do anything but!
Apathy towards your business
Once upon a time, your business was your joy, your passion, your life’s goal. They were happy times. But if you have started to feel apathy towards your business, and your passion and enjoyment have gone, then something is seriously wrong. You are probably overworked, or the stresses of running a business may have gotten the better of you.
You are becoming forgetful
Have you been missing important meetings? Are you forgetting the names of your clients, customers and coworkers? Did you leave that important work document on your kitchen table at home? Forgetfulness is setting in, and this is a sign that stress is taking a hold on you.
You are becoming irritable
Did you kick the cat this morning? Are you getting impatient with the people around you, at home and at work? Is there a permanent black cloud hanging over your head? Irritability can be a symptom of both stress and anxiety, so for the sake of your cat and anybody else in your way, you do need to find ways to de-stress before your anger gets the better of you>
If any of the above signs are true to you, then it’s time to slow down. You need to stop, reflect on your business practices, and make changes before burnout leaves a calling card with you. On the other hand, if you haven’t spotted any of the signs in this article, you might still be worried that you will one day. Being an entrepreneur can take its toll on the best of us! In both cases, pay special attention to the next part of this article. Burnout can be avoided if you take some sensible steps in the opposite direction.
The solutions to impending burnout:
To preempt and reduce the effects of burnout, consider the following.
Prioritize your working day
You probably have a to-do list a mile long, but only focus on those activities that have set deadlines. By trying to cram everything into your day, you are only going to get tired and overwhelmed otherwise. Use an app to schedule your time, and break your workload up into manageable segments, with the high priority tasks at the beginning.
Don’t do everything alone
You’re not Superman, so don’t act as if you have superhuman abilities. You don’t! There will be times when you need help, so consider the resources available to you. If you have staff working alongside you, delegate the relevant tasks to them. If you are bogged down with administrative duties, consider the services of a virtual assistant service. If you work alone, consider outsourcing some of your more time-consuming tasks to professional firms or freelancers. By reducing your burden, you will start to reduce the stress you may be experiencing.
Schedule downtime during the day
By adhering to the above, you should have more time in the day for breaks. Use your downtime to exercise, eat something healthy, and to take a rest from your workload. This is your time to focus on your physical and mental health, and when you return to your workload, you should be more productive due to your renewed state>
Resist the urge to work overtime
Don’t stay late in the office too frequently, and don’t always take work home with you. If you have managed to work on your priority tasks, you shouldn’t need to anyway. Use your time after work to do things you enjoy. Unwind and relax alone, or with family and friends. Do something to distract you from thoughts of work. Do all you can to improve your work-life balance, as you will then return to work fully rested and mentally and physically prepared for all that you need to do.
Know your stressors
What is stressing you out? List them, and then work on finding ways to deal with them. You may be able to handle them alone, or you might want to seek support from others. And look for safe ways to handle your stress, as by doing so, you will be better able to deal with the stressors that come your way.
Start saying no
Yes, you want your business to be a success, but you don’t need to say yes to every project that comes your way. In some cases, delegate what you can to others. In other cases, turn a project down, or explain that you don’t have the time right now. Yes, you might lose a client or two, but surely that’s better than saying yes to everything, doing a bad job because you are overworked, and losing all of your clients as a consequence!
Find a listening ear
We all need somebody to talk to, especially when we are feeling burdened and stressed. Make it a habit then, to regularly speak to somebody, whether it’s for advice or simply as a listening ear. Talk to your partner, call a friend, confide in a therapist, or seek support from a business mentor. A problem shared is a problem halved, and in terms of your mental health, this will bring great relief to you.
After starting your own business, it would be a shame to see it crash and burn because you have done likewise. Protect your business, then, by protecting yourself, in terms of both your physical and mental health. Follow the suggestions we have given you in this article, and be mindful of the signs of potential burnout. By doing so, you will prosper, in terms of your overall health and wellbeing, and in terms of the financial profit and personal reward you make from your business.
Let us know what you think, and if you have any ideas that would benefit any of entrepreneurial readers, be sure to let us know.
Take care, and thanks for reading!