By Solomon Thimothy
As an entrepreneur, I definitely feel discouraged at times. I’ve been in business for more than a decade, and I’ve learned that the roller coaster of emotions can take a toll on you. Sometimes you’ll feel empowered (successes); other times you’ll think it’s all been a waste (failures).
Knowing how to spot the signs of burnout for a business owner is the key to preventing burnout before it’s too late. Here are six signs of burnout to help you nip them in the bud before they become detrimental to you and your entire business.
1. You’re exhausted all the time. We all feel exhausted from time to time. While being exhausted once in a while (from late-night prepping for a board meeting or insomnia from thinking about an upset customer) is normal, being exhausted all the time is not. If you’re constantly exhausted, it’s a sign that the business has become overwhelming and is taking a toll on you physically. Whenever I feel my energy plummeting, I know it’s time to take a break, even if that just means watching a movie. The simple act of not thinking about work can be re-energizing.
2. You’re easily overwhelmed. Everyone freaks out occasionally. But if last week’s broken coffee maker made you upset, you need to start taking it easy. When little things overwhelm you and impact your mood, it’s a sign that you’re under high stress.
While I try to stay collected, there are times when it feels like everything is coming at me all at once. Having a small business means you are tasked to resolve lots of issues—sales, cash flow, staff, technology, etc. More than once, I’ve had days when I don’t think I can take on another issue—no matter how small or trivial. When I feel like I can’t answer politely, I know it’s time to take a break.
3. You find yourself working around the clock. While you might think working 24/7 is normal, any sane person will tell you it’s unhealthy. If you find yourself working long hours at the office, coming home to work, and spending your weekends working, you are on a path to burnout. Prevent yourself from burning out by putting up boundaries and setting limits.
During the early years of my company, I found myself working constantly. I would wake up to answer calls or to schedule meetings. I’d spend 12-hour-plus days at the office, then come home and do more work. But it wasn’t sustainable.
4. You have trouble focusing. If you find it difficult to focus on your work, this may be a sign that you’ve overdosed on work. Not only is focus necessary to get things done, it’s important for entrepreneurs and small business owners who need to make things happen. A lack of focus and vision can send everything crumbling down.
With so many things coming your way, it’s often hard to focus. Whenever I feel like I’m unable to focus, I take a time out or work from home. The simple change in surroundings helps to refocus the mind.
5. You avoid going to work. If making it to the office is becoming more and more difficult, it might be a sign that you’re experiencing burnout. If you’d rather do errands, stay home, or sleep in, it’s time to take a day to clear your mind. Remember that getting your sanity back is worth more than missing a day or two of work.
Fortunately, I love what I do, and I enjoy working both in the business and on the business. That said, sometimes it’s difficult to face your staff if things aren’t going as well as you’d hoped. Think of the positives and existing achievements to get you through this rut.
6. You forgot why you’re in business. If you’re asking yourself how you got into this whole mess, it’s probably not a good sign. The daily stress of running a business, especially a nascent one, can take a toll on even the best business owner. If you’ve lost your fire, it’s definitely a sign that you’re experiencing burnout.
At times, I’ve questioned what exactly my company is in the business to do. I always think back to how we started as a company and that helps me refocus and regain control. A business can often grow arms and legs, making it hard to contain and manage. Sometimes you’ll find that thinking back to how it all got started helps to refuel that initial fire.
For business owners, burnout can mean the downfall of the entire organization. Learn how to spot the signs so you can avoid a burnout that you can’t fix. Then, surround yourself with people who are supportive of both the business and you personally. Listen to them when they tell you to take a break—they’re probably right.
Solomon Thimothy is the founder of Clickx, a marketing intelligence platform that helps businesses and agencies with marketing attribution.
BusinessCollective is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives, and small business owners.
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