Business owner burnout is a very real, and very scary thing, especially for small business owners, who are, more often than not, bearing the brunt of their business load. How could just one person (or a small group of them) possibly get everything done and well enough to sustain a business profitably? It’s a lot to take on.
By taking on all that responsibility, a business owner (you) also takes on all the stress and anxiety associated with it. This constant stress, anxiety, and overwork are what leads to business owner burnout and it’s important to look for the signs and address them before you end up hating the business you created and abandoning it altogether. Here are some of the most common signs that business owner burnout is starting to take effect:
- Feeling exhausted or overwhelmed
- Losing interest in a business you once loved running
- Getting frustrated, angry, or cynical easily, even with smaller, less important tasks
Feeling exhausted or overwhelmed
Is there a small business owner alive who doesn’t feel this way sometimes? But the difference is feeling it on occasion, or feeling it all the time. When your work becomes all-consuming and you start to feel under-appreciated, you will also become bitter, resentful, and hateful towards your own business, your team, and every little task that comes your way. Suddenly you are extra sensitive to someone “not pulling their weight,” you see faults in everyone and the jobs they are doing, and you eventually blow off the work in frustration, yourself.
Working more or harder is not the answer. Working less or avoiding tasks is also not the answer. The key is to really look at how you are working and when (and/or how) you are most productive. Otherwise, you will end up feeling broken and broke. You need to get a handle on your to-do list in a way that is manageable and sustainable or burnout will be inevitable.
Losing interest in a business you once loved
As the owner, giving up isn’t really an option, but you’d be surprised at just how often that happens. In the best companies, a team is there to pick up the slack (or help you avoid this situation altogether); but in most situations, it’s all you, the owner, who has to address these issues.
When you are experiencing burnout, it directly affects every facet of your business and business relationships. It won’t be long before your team and customers start to notice, too. Employees and contractors become unhappy because you are taking out your frustration on them, or shoving new workloads on them. Customers sense the shift in morale and notice the decrease in product quality, which makes them frequent your establishment less, which then causes a decrease in profits and an increase in your anxiety.
Your personal burnout bleeds into the company and all areas of business from leadership to team dynamics to customer service and communication. Make a thorough analysis of why you are feeling the way you are and what you can do to get your mind back on the right track.
Getting frustrated, angry, or cynical easily, even with smaller, less important tasks
Ah, work rage. The more you let this influence your decisions, the more your decisions (and their results) will anger you. Remember: you started this business for a reason and if your disinterestedness has evolved into real anger or hatred, you need to make adjustments, and fast.
Really look at why you are frustrated.
Is it that your employee isn’t getting their job done … or that you didn’t train them properly and now you’re impatient to see progress where none is being made?
Are you angry that a project isn’t finished … or worried that you should be doing something more, but don’t know what that is?
Often some of our biggest stresses in business reflect back on us, the owners, and not necessarily on the business, itself. Unfortunately for small businesses, you are the business, so what you do and how you respond makes a huge difference in whether or not your business lasts.
It’s incredibly important to shift your mindset about your business. No one is out to get you. Your business is not a lost cause. This scarcity mindset invites chaos into your way of thinking and your business. Focus on what you can change for the better, without succumbing to your worst fears of failure.
You may be trying to do everything by yourself, but you don’t have to. It’s important to re-evaluate your situation with a critical eye and prioritize what really matters—your health and your business’ health. If you need help, ask for it—whether that be from employees, contractors, family, or even an outside consultant. You honestly can’t afford not to.
The best, immediate advice I can give you is to step back and congratulate yourself on how far you’ve come. No matter where you are, or where you think you should be, you are further along than you were a year ago, a month ago, a week ago, or yesterday. Remember why you started this business and what your goals are. Stay positive and celebrate all the small wins—from landing a new client to a timeline milestone, or even something as simple as finishing a training. You deserve to celebrate yourself and your business and those positive vibes will trickle into your everyday mindset and create new opportunities you just couldn’t see through the smoke of a burnout.