Entrepreneur Burnout Syndrome or EBS for short is a growing epidemic in the business world. Thousands of startup and SMB owners face it each and every day. Failure to recognize the signs is a big part of the problem for entrepreneurs.
Worse, not knowing what to do in order to avoid or erase the negative feelings and find your way back to being the eager industrialist you were when you first started, makes it difficult to avoid succumbing to this paralyzing disease once it sets in.
The following are a few ways to help curb entrepreneurial burnout regardless of how long you have been in business:
1. Get your head screwed on straight.
Mindset will always be key. Nobody is signing a paycheck for you, so it is all up to you (for the most part) how this all turns out. Slow and steady wins the race, but you have to find a way to keep your energy levels at 100% whenever they are needed.
This means you need to find a way to meter and maximize your mental energy so you can be ready to charge like a bull when you have to, then come back down to normal intensity and recover when your business conditions allow you to.
2. Don’t over-promise things to yourself.
What happens when you don’t close those 1000 accounts the first month? Or when you are not a millionaire by the end of year one? If you guessed EBS, then you are right!
Forecasting, projecting, setting goals – all are important for any entrepreneur. Just as you would when doing business with clients, you have to “under-promise and over-deliver” to yourself, else your mind will suffer and burnout will always be that monkey on your back.
3. Chunk everything!
What happened in high school when you had a book report due on Thursday and you still had not read past the first chapter by the end of the school day on Wednesday? Doom, gloom, fear, racing heartbeat, caffeine abuse?
Likely all the above and more, including feeling really burnt out and perhaps a little disappointed when you got the report back and it had a bad grade attached to it. You may have resorted to never put it off again because of the mental anguish it caused, only to do the same thing the next time.
Maybe you were lucky enough never to be that person at all, it all depends.
The point here is that if you chunk things down to small little bits here and there, it is a lot easier to get big things done. This way you are never feeling under-the-gun and stressed – or at least feeling that way much less of the time! Smart students understand this concept. And so do smart and successful business people.
4. Keep a list of goals nearby at all times.
This will not be a passive sort of thing that you keep in the back of your mind. You need to keep a well-defined list of your goals as an entrepreneur close to wherever you find yourself working at any given time. Keep it on all your smart devices and even written down in a hard copy in a goal journal. Constantly monitor your list for things that have become outdated or no longer align with the current path your business is on.
During times when you are stressed, you can look to the list for inspiration. When times are good, the list can help keep you on track and prevent deviations from the path that will only serve to stress you out later on and eventually lead to burnout.
5. Don’t be a “job hoarder”!
Outsourcing is so easy and affordable in this day and age. Don’t hoard all the stuff you hate to do just to save a few bucks or because you are a narcissist who thinks you gotta do it yourself to get it done right.
Doing this is a sure-fire recipe for EBS. Adelaide Lancaster of The Big Enough Company advises: “Don’t hoard bad tasks or give yourself a job you don’t like. Instead, leverage others and deliberately plan for the job you want. I guarantee that’s the only way you’ll ever get it.”
6. Know your support network – have them on speed dial.
Who can you turn to when you need advice, a shoulder to lean on, or even someone to help you with physical labor after a sub-contractor left you high and dry at 6 am that day? You need to have people you can lean and count on. You need a wealth of support people including business contacts, friends and family surrounding you.
You also need to reevaluate your network constantly, lest you be stuck with a dilemma that requires someone’s expertise or insight and that person doesn’t exist. Take a look at your biggest business problem right now and see if you can identify the person in your network that can help you.
If they do not exist, it is time to hit the phones and the streets and find them!
7. Set your own schedule.
So strange that the ability to set one’s own schedule is at the forefront of every new entrepreneur’s decision to take the plunge. Yet they quickly start complaining that they are always working and never have enough time to themselves and their families. This problem quickly leads to entrepreneur’s burnout.
You do actually have the power to set your own schedule. So do it! When work is done, it is done. When you schedule a weekend, shut off your phone – hire someone to answer it for you if you cannot. Set boundaries for your time and honor them!
8. Take regular time off.
Just this year I went off the grid for a full 3 days. No communication with business contacts or my beloved staff. No emails of any kind. I set all my blogs and my publication and marketing company to run on autopilot during this time of relaxation and contemplation.
You have to take time away from your business to avoid burnout. Otherwise, you are like a sailor at sea, constantly looking at the same old blue water, desperately looking for land all the time just so you can experience something new and exciting.
You might think that your business cannot run without you and, really, it cannot forever. But if you do not take a breather from the day-to-day once in a while, you are setting yourself up for entrepreneur burnout syndrome and all the feelings of failure, regret and disappointment that comes along with it!
How do you avoid entrepreneur burnout?
About the Author: Ivan Widjaya is the owner of the award-winning entrepreneurship blog Noobpreneur, as well as several other blogs. He is a business blogger, web publisher and content marketer for SMEs.