Business owner burnout: signs and ways to avoid

As small business owners we’re completely invested in our business and its success. With it comes lots of pressure to do all you can to make your business grow and thrive. While usually this pressure is self imposed, it’s understandable why you put so much time and energy into our business, without giving any thought to scheduling downtime or periods away from it. But living and breathing your business can all too soon lead to business owner burnout.

Throw in the COVID-19 pandemic and some of Australia’s worst natural disasters it’s understandable the business world is under extreme pressure. Business closures, increased costs, supply chain issues and complete uncertainty have caused havoc for many. It’s any wonder more business owners than ever are experiencing burnout.

Avoiding business owner burnout is important. In fact, it is paramount if you want your business to function. If you don’t it can lead to you being less effective and it can also be the catalyst to your business not operating as successfully as it could.

What is Business Owner Burnout

Burnout is a feeling of ongoing stress including being overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands. It often stems from overwork.

Business owner burnout can display as both physical and emotional stress. Mental exhaustion combined with self doubts about your competence and capability are common and soon the negative effects will show. 

Signs of Business Burnout

When you’re in the midst of business burnout, it’s often hard to recognise the signs because it’s difficult to see things clearly or how others looking in may see them.

Small business owners often feel as though they don’t have support or that there’s no one else to do “all the things”. They push themselves and often don’t take much needed time out.

While everyone is different and how burnout affects you will differ from person to person, here are a few common signs of burnout that you should watch out for: 

Feeling exhausted and overwhelmed

Feelings of tiredness, lacking energy and being overwhelmed by what lies ahead for the day are common signs of business burnout. While almost everyone feels like this at times, you need to take notice if these feelings are prolonged.

Lack of focus and concentration

Are you forgetting things easily? Do you switch from one thing to another without actually getting the job done? If you were able to take a step back you’d probably see your productivity levels have dropped because stress levels are making you work less effectively.

Trouble sleeping

Having trouble either falling asleep or having long periods of wake time during the night might mean you’re feeling overly stressed. And if this is happening over an extended period of time, it could be a sign of burnout.

Feeling anxious

Anxiety often kicks in when feelings of overwhelm and stress become too much. If you’re feeling anxious in situations you normally wouldn’t, it’s time to take a look at why you’re feeling that way.

Socially distancing yourself

If you’re always “too busy” to socialise or you no longer find any enjoyment in it, tending to avoid it where possible you may be suffering burnout.

Managing Burnout

Business owners can become all-consumed with their business, allowing little time for anything else. I understand running a business can be draining and exhausting.

It’s normal to have periods of time where you feel tired, aggravated and lack inspiration. But if these and other negative feelings start to take over, it’s best to start managing business burnout before the full ramifications are felt. Here’s some small ways to manage business burnout, that can help you love your business again:

Take a step back

One of the best ways to see a clear way forward is to take a step back. It sounds counterintuitive, I know. But if you take a break away from your business you’ll be able to think more clearly about where you can make changes

Turn off the socials

Not only can social platforms lead you down a rabbit hole and before you know it you’ve lost a few hours in the day, they can also fill your mind with unhelpful messaging. Some groups promote the idea of “work till you drop” while others normalise business burnout.  

Include healthy choices in your everyday

Including things that are healthy for your body and mind into your everyday life will help. “Too busy” you say. Well the facts are if you incorporate healthier food options and some exercise into your routine you’ll be much more productive.

Try having a healthy breakfast, go for a walk at lunch time or cut down on alcohol. You don’t need to go extreme and change everything at once. But try adding some healthier choices to your lifestyle and you’ll reap the benefits.

Remember your “why”

Reflect on why you set up your business in the first place. Maybe it was to follow a passion, have more freedom to make decisions, or to give you more work/life balance. 

Chances are you didn’t picture it in your head, how you’re feeling now. Remembering why you created your own business and focusing on the goals that are important to you can help you lose some of that cynicism and gain some refocus about what’s important.

5 Ways to Avoid Burnout

Burning out is a common issue for many small business owners. Because we tend to pour our heart and soul into our businesses, the constant work and emotional investment can cause small business owner burnout. If you’re experiencing burnout or are struggling to maintain a healthy flow and balance in your business, check out these five tips to help you avoid burnout.

1. Get Organised 

Before you do anything, it’s time to get organised. Sorting out both your physical space and online systems will cut through the chaos and make everything more manageable. Make sure that everything has its own place and every process has its own system. This will give you a clear path to follow with all upcoming tasks, requiring less mental gymnastics that cause small business owner burnout.

2. Scheduling

Once you have your systems in place and have organised your workspace, it’s time to schedule everything – and I mean everything! Burnout is often the result of tackling task after task and feeling as if it never ends, which is exhausting. By scheduling out every single little thing you have to do in your business, it not only adds structure to your day but paints a clear picture of everything that needs to be done. This allows you to batch together similar work to get it done quicker and prioritise urgent jobs so that important deadlines don’t creep up on you.

3. Outsource

No matter how organised you are, sometimes there is literally not enough time in the day to get everything done. This is where outsourcing will become your saviour. It can be scary relinquishing control and handing the reins over to someone else, but it gives you more time to grow your business and keep control of your mental health and stress levels. Check out our blog about outsourcing your business to get started.

4. Say No

Being busy to the point of burnout means one of two things. Either your business is growing and thriving, or you are saying yes too often and filling your time with tasks that don’t benefit you. The first is a great thing that just needs to be managed, the second is a bad thing that you need to fix. Say it with me – it’s okay to say no. Remember that for everything you say yes to, you are automatically saying no to something else by filling that time. Value your worth and time and only say yes to the things that will benefit you.

5. Take Time To Relax

One of the biggest reasons small business owners are so prone to burn out is because they are working all the time. Without that 9-5 structure, it can be difficult to switch off and differentiate between work time and personal time. You have to schedule time for yourself, whether it be by setting set work hours for your day or just scheduling in an hour to do absolutely no work. At the very least – no more late night emails!

When it comes down to it, avoiding burnout is all about valuing your own time and effort. By organising your space and time and allowing yourself to step back a little bit and enjoy your success you will be able to avoid the dreaded small business owner burnout.

To connect with other small business owners join my Facebook group, the Australian Business Collaborative, and check out another blog article on burnout here.

Where to From Here

Your mental health and well-being are important contributors to the success of your business

Business owners typically feel as though they don’t have the luxury of stepping away from work or taking a break when they need it. When they are responsible for all aspects of the business it can become all-consuming and 

Knowing how to recognise the signs of business burnout, along with ways to manage and avoid it can not only help you, it can help your business operate more smoothly and efficiently. Afterall, business burnout has the potential to be crippling, leaving you unable to function properly for your business.

Owning your own business shouldn’t be the only aspect of your life you focus on. Be sure to allow yourself the chance to enjoy other aspects of your life too. You’ll find creating some balance to enjoy other things will bring more benefits to your business than you think.

If you’re no longer wanting to try and figure everything out on your own in business and are wanting to get some advice from someone who has created not 1 but 2 successful businesses then I’d love to hop on a free 30-minute discovery call. We can chat about your goals, struggles and how I can help you in the role of your business consultant/coach. BOOK YOUR CALL HERE.

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Angel Henderson Consulting

I'm Ange... proud Canadian, Nutella eating lover and pink is my favorite colour with a splash of glitter. I'm a business consultant/coach who has helped hundreds of business owners get all the pieces in place to have consistent 5-figure months and multiple 6-figure years... without burning out in the process.