This Beast is stalking you – Business Owner Burnout

Avoid business owner burnout

I’m yet to come across a really successful small business without a burnout story simmering in the background.  It’s nothing to be ashamed of; just to be avoided if you can.

Burnout changes and refines us. It teaches us compassion.  It’s the price of an essentially driven achiever-type personality and at the very least we all suffer OVERWHELM.  It’s very prevalent at this time of year; almost all our clients feel engulfed now.

Small business ownership is excruciatingly stressful: the different hats we have to wear (some in areas in which we’re ill-equipped); the complexity; cash-flow and staff issues; difficult clients or even legal issues; the opposing demands on our time.  So, at worst, without a “break state” or consulting advice, this is not sustainable and will lead to BURNOUT in the best of us!

Here are 6 How-To’s to help you keep the Burnout Beast at bay:

1. Prevention

The most often-touted advice remains true: healthy diet, exercise, prayer or meditation, and taking regular breaks, i.e. AWAY from your workplace and preferably disconnected for at least 2 days every 3 months. It’s really best to go away – new places and faces and NATURE, especially, tend to refresh and inspire.

2. Mindset

We are human – yes, even the tough, hard-working, tireless warriors we are.  Nothing gets us down… Well, until it does.  No-one is immune.  Some of the biggest names in the South African small business arena have a burnout story to tell. We need to be ever so gentle on ourselves, listen to our bodies and hearts and not judge ourselves so harshly. Love what you do? Love your clients?  Even more reason to offer them your gift for longer!

3. Habits

Creating daily habits can help us manage our prevention strategy almost mindlessly.  E.g. to create breathing (or just peeing!) spaces in our day; create admin slots to avoid it cluttering our desks and minds; ask for a time-out or more time if you are exhausted.

4. Tools

One of the biggest issues small business owners and managers face, is that you need time- and energy-saving tools; but you are running yourself ragged so you don’t have time to research or integrate any.  If 2 hours of research and implementation today, will save you 7 hours just in the next week – would that convince you?  If you still feel you simply cannot make the time – you are already teetering on the brink of burnout anyway… beware.

5. Boundaries

Much of what trips us up is saying YES to more than we can actually handle. Whether from enthusiasm, guilt, or fear of losing out – no-one benefits.  At the top of what I recommend for Entrepreneurs is to read books on Boundaries and boundary-setting.

6. Firefighting

If you’re already in a state of burnout (and brave enough to admit it), it can be salvaged if you’d make immediate changes. BURNOUT DOES NOT EQUAL FAILURE.  It is simple exhaustion. Immediately cancel anything non-critical, get a business sitter or close your doors for a few days. Do whatever it takes for a healing space to allow you to breathe, seek help, change to healthier routines and get the resources to lighten your load.

Our business life should only be a small portion of our life’s joy and our long-term health and legacy.  Not to mention the speck our lives form in the bigger scheme of things – even though it matters, it is transitory.  Perspective is a great master – make it another habit.

We hope to see you grow and glow with health as you go about it!



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Author: Ronel Pieterse

Ronel has spent 24 years in the corporate world (finance, banking, mining, manufacturing and agriculture) and has also started 5 small businesses herself over the past 20 years. Four of these are still operational today in one form or another. Ronel's passion is to use her considerable skills in spheres of business and IT to help other small business owners and entrepreneurs to grow their businesses to the next level and to attain sustainable competitive advantage in the process.

2 thoughts on “This Beast is stalking you – Business Owner Burnout”

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