You don’t need anyone to tell you this, but you’ve got a lot to do. As a business owner, the buck ultimately stops with you: every decision, every responsibility… and all the stress.
You probably handle payroll, ordering, marketing/advertising, social media, and even clean up. When you run a business, you’ve got a hand in almost everything that goes on (in addition to executing your actual role).
If you’re like most owners or executives, the job never really stops. That’s especially true for those who have committed fully to the entrepreneur life. There’s a reason why the saying goes, “Entrepreneurs are the only people who will work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week.”
You can handle it, so you cruise along, even loving the process. But life gets in the way. Your plate gets full, you miss the things you used to live for, or a difficult situation comes up.
That’s when you burn out.
Burnout is effectively a prolonged illness of attitude, and the recovery process is not easy or quick. So, the best way to conquer burnout is not to burn out in the first place.
Standard advice like maintaining a decent diet, getting enough activity/sleep, and making sure you take time for yourself and your family are all extremely useful -- but there are a few things you can do in your business to avoid burning out.
Get Comfortable with Trusting
It’s hard to get used to placing responsibility in others’ hands, but it’ll keep you sane. Doing everything yourself means absorbing every bit of responsibility; sharing the load means sharing responsibility, too. One of the best decisions you can make as an owner or executive is to identify employees you can trust with a particular task and put them in charge of it.
Employees like that, too. Survey data on employee satisfaction shows that most people want their jobs to come with more autonomy and agency. You need less to worry about and they want more control. It’s a no-brainer.
Ask for Help
For self-starters and confident leaders, asking for help can be one of the toughest things to do -- especially when you know you’re capable of getting it done on your own.
But the reality is that your time and energy are limited. Do you really have time to pick up another language to make inroads into a new market? Are you going to wake up an extra hour earlier every day for 2 months to work toward your firm’s Google Partner certifications? You certainly could, but isn’t it smarter to ask an employee to augment their role or to hire someone who can do it? Or find a local business to partner with who complements your needs? Help is out there, so you might as well ask for it.
Talk to Other Owners
When you’re totally wrapped up in your business -- day and night -- it can feel like no one else understands your problems. How could they know exactly what stresses you out about a client, a co-worker, or some change in the market?
If you start talking to other business owners, you’ll find that they get it. Their situations will be different than yours, but you’ll find a lot of common ground. Being able to discuss problems and their solutions with people in similar positions releases pressure. Hit up your local Chamber of Commerce or a similar business-themed group and just start going to events. It’ll pay off, and you’ll also find that it feels pretty good to offer solutions you’ve acquired through your own difficult experiences to those in need.
Outsource Some Responsibility
Bootstrapping is great for getting off the ground. Running a lean operation is excellent for growth. But doing everything in-house isn’t an optimal long-term solution.
Professional employer organizations (PEOs) are a great option for handling payroll, benefits, hiring, and more -- but there are lots of opportunities to find capable partners to share a range of responsibilities. You can work with freelancers who provide excellent PR and marketing services. No matter what you do, there’s probably a local business who you can partner with for mutual benefit. If you’re in a city, there are definitely a host of options. Perhaps you can pay in kind, which gets you all the outsourcing you need without affecting your bottom line.
All four approaches are critical to succeeding in the marketplace, but the real benefit is in making sure you stay happy and productive. Open up with your co-workers, peers, and the providers around you, because the alternative puts you at serious risk for burning out. Once you burn out, it’s tough to get back in the game -- and you’ll know that stalling out was probably preventable.