How to Avoid Burnout as an Entrepreneur
Seek a better work-life balance while growing your business.
Have you ever wondered how to turn your dreams of owning your own business into a reality? We can help. Each week, as part of our Self Made series, we showcase female entrepreneurs—as well as their quality, handmade goods—and share their best advice related to starting, maintaining, and growing your own business.
It's no surprise that entrepreneurs can suffer burnout. They hustle: They're often wearing many hats—such as business manager, accountant, marketer, sales lead, and more—all at once. Many constantly think about their business, which can be mentally draining. Their success determines their income—and oftentimes, their happiness. "The weight of 'making it work' can lead them to over-work," explains Megan Witt, owner of business coaching and branding company Six Figs.
Burnout manifests in different ways. For some, burnout might look like indifference. "Burned out entrepreneurs may find themselves just going through the motions of their business," says career coach Hallie Crawford. "They may lose their creativity or interest in their business plan." Some might feel frazzled, unable to keep up with the demands of their business. "They feel like they're behind the eight ball, never able to get ahead or grow their business to a place they want it to be," Crawford describes. Or they may grow to resent their business, in "the same way any relationship feels when you are giving [it] everything and not getting enough back," Witt adds. Others still might suffer painful physical symptoms, such as exhaustion, chronic headaches, or stomach aches, says millennial career coach Jill Jacinto.
No matter the symptoms of burnout that you might experience, you must nip them in the bud. "You cannot burn the candles at both ends because, at some point, you will break," says Jacinto. Here are three tips to help you avoid burnout all together.
Set your schedule—and boundaries.
Defining set blocks of time during which you'll accomplish your goals can help you feel less frazzled during the work week—and can prevent work from bleeding into after-work hours. Crawford recommends taking 30 minutes at the beginning of each week to plan that week's schedule. "This will help you have a clear vision of what you need to accomplish," she says, "and will also make sure that you don't get lost in the small details, which can lead to burnout."
Witt also recommends building boundaries into that schedule. For example, Witt uses Mondays for administrative work. And she won't take client appointments after 4 p.m. on weekdays.
Delegate to others.
You're mighty, but you can't do it all, says Jacinto. "You might not be in a position to employ a full-time [employee], but you can utilize freelancers and software to make your life easier," she says. She suggests tools such as Asana for project management, Elance for freelance work, and Calendly for scheduling. Crawford suggests hiring a part-time personal assistant to help you with administrative tasks, freeing you up to "work on big-picture [parts] of your business," she says.
If you're not sure what you could delegate to others, think about the tasks you regularly avoid, such as clearing your inbox or scheduling appointments, suggests Witt. Delegate those. "You're much less likely to feel burnt out if you love 80 percent of what you're working on," she says.
Carve out time for yourself.
One of the biggest perks of being an entrepreneur is the ability to set your own schedule. Jacinto says it's important to build in time for yourself. "You shouldn't always feel like you need to be working," she says. "If you want to hit a barre class and don't have a client deadline, go. You'll be taking care of your health, freeing your mind, and getting energy to use back at the office."
Time with friends and family can also alleviate burnout. While work-life balance eludes many people, "your work cannot always take precedence," says Jacinto. "Your relationships will suffer if you alienate those closest to you." Instead, she suggests opening up to loved ones about work, so that they understand the weight you carry. And block your calendar to spend time with them.