One of the main reasons startups and SME’s fail is Entrepreneurial Burnout. For instance, if you see the relative infographic (http://www.ibbds.com/top-20-reasons-startups-fail-infographic) you will observe that entrepreneurial burnout counts for 8% as a reason for startup failure. The majority of times the symptoms and implications of entrepreneurial burnout are far more serious than these statistics. So, what are these symptoms and implications and specifically, what is the Path to Overcome Entrepreneurial Burnout?
Before answering these questions, it is essential to define what Entrepreneurial Burnout is. Entrepreneurial Burnout is a type of psychological or physical exhaustion of energy that an entrepreneur experiences that may leads to continuous stress, feelings of frustration, feelings of overloaded work, lack of motivation and enthusiasm, lack of focus to the overall business goals, lack of efficiency to realize the vision, lack of a clear mind that is needed for correct decision making and generally to any negative symptoms that make a business owner feel tired or unable to perform according to his/her best abilities or strength.
Does the above description ring any bell? I hope not, but if it does, you are probably experiencing some kind of these negative symptoms.
Now what are the implications? Well, there are numerous and significant for you. In more detail, your marketing, your management, your financial situation, your relationship with employees, your business survival and most importantly, your overall quality of life are affected. As a result, entrepreneurial burnout is an issue of concern and it needs to be addressed ASAP, as soon as an entrepreneur realizes that he/she has the symptoms. Otherwise, if you delay any action, probably it will get worse in the near future and this is applied also to the depth of the implications.
Therefore, I tried to create a complete roadmap, which I believe, it will help you take all the necessary steps (you need) in order to confront and solve this problem.
The Path to Overcome Entrepreneurial Burnout is the following:
Stop blaming yourself and take appropriate actions
You have seen the signs and you know that you have the symptoms. You also know that you have to do something. Blaming constantly yourself is not the solution. It accomplishes nothing. You have to take action.
Perform a situation analysis
Try to understand and record the real reasons that make you feel that way. Put them on a paper in order to remember them. Try to identify your Strengths and Weaknesses, the Opportunities that exist out there and also the Threats. In other words, perform a SWOT Analysis. Include all the factors that influence you, personal, political, economic, social, technological, company issues, competitors, customers, collaborators, climate, and suppliers, etc. Make an effort to be honest with yourself and that will assist you the most. You will see that this process helps you to comprehend the overall picture.
Ask for help
Do not be afraid to ask for help from a professional consultant. Especially, if you feel that you do not have the strength to help yourself. However, I truly believe that if you follow this guideline (of how to overcome entrepreneurial burnout) you will manage yourself to defeat it, and at the end of the day you will become a stronger and wiser entrepreneur.
Delegate tasks to your employees
Decide which tasks you can allocate to your employees according to their skills. Train them, if you are not sure that they will manage to perform according to your standards. When you delegate tasks to your employees, they feel more motivated and more empowered. This would be beneficial for them, the business, and you. Not to mention that you will have more time to do the things that you like and with less stress.
Outsource work that you cannot handle
Another way to delegate tasks is to outsource. Again, this is beneficial for your time management, and for the business, since you can choose the best possible professionals. Moreover, this is a very cost effective solution if you choose wisely and select to cooperate with the most suitable ones (professionals with the right expertise and skills).
Take quality time off
It is equally important to take quality time off. Go on a trip in a place you really like. Relax for a while and do not think business staff. Life itself is bigger than any business. Enjoy life for a while (according to your financial ability). It is certain that after having quality time, your brain will be clearer and your decisions will be better.
Share your thoughts/Brainstorm with a friend that is also an entrepreneur
Do not hesitate to share your thoughts with a friend that is also an entrepreneur and to brainstorm together. Many times this is a very relaxing thing to do. You may realize that you are not the only one with the same concerns and also you may hear different ways that others have found to confront your problems. Additionally, you may help another person through this process and this will make you feel better and less stressed.
Along with the above mentioned, it is essential that you sleep well every day. If you sleep the normal hours that you need, according to your age and your physical condition, your energy levels will be increased. Many entrepreneurs make a mistake and they sacrifice valuable sleep hours for work, ending with burnout symptoms. Having every day a good night’s sleep is extremely important.
The same goes for your eating habits. Many entrepreneurs due to heavy work load, they do not eat regular meals during the day, ending either eating in the night huge amounts of food or forgetting to eat at all, resulting in the future with health problems that are related also with burnout signs.
It is a common secret that a regular physical activity helps any person to avoid stress factors and to overcome burnout effects. The same goes for the entrepreneurs. The problem is that many of them do not find the time to exercise regularly. However, please question yourself. What is better, burnout symptoms and implications or following a healthy living (exercising, eating well, sleeping well, keeping a balance of work and personal life)? If the answer is obvious for you, it is also the action that you need to take.
Find what truly motivates you
Every person has specific goals and specific motives that help him/her to achieve those goals. Ask yourself what really motivates you. Remember those motives. It is your fuel. As long as you have fuel, you can actually move towards your wants.
Put things into perspective
It is not the end of the world if you identify signs of entrepreneurial burnout in yourself, but you should do something about it. Try to find what triggers this feeling. It is not the biggest issue in the world, it is one of the many issues, in your everyday business, that requires attention and focus and that needs proper steps to overcome it. You know, they say about life, that you should not worry about the things that you can fix, and additionally, you should not worry for the things that you cannot. In the first case you should not worry, because you will find a solution and everything will be ok. In the second case, since there is no solution available, what is the purpose of suffering? Get over it and move on! Well, entrepreneurial burnout belongs to the first case. It can be fixed, it can be solved, so put things into perspective!
Set realistic expectations
Whatever goals you set, make an attempt to be realistic. No, I am not telling you to contain your dreams. Sky is the limit, but it is wise to set goals that you have the tools and resources to accomplish, along with an applicable and well organized plan to follow, within a very reasonable time frame. In this way you will not put yourself in a continuous stress trying to achieve the impossible. Calculate also in your expectations the fact that in business the majority of times things do not go according to our plans. External factors may alter all of your plans. Be prepared always for the worst case scenario.
Write down and remind yourself why you started
Put on a paper the initial reasons that made you start your entrepreneurial activity. Remind yourself that it was your choice and that it was the best choice you had at that time. Try to remember why you took that choice. What were the things that you liked in that decision? What inspired you to become an entrepreneur? What professional and personal needs you wanted to cover? All these answers can help you put yourself back on track in order to follow with persistence your goals.
Prioritize/Organize/Plan your work
Planning is important not only because you think in advance possible solutions for future problems and issues that may appear, but mainly because you are prepared to overcome them without stress, since you have already the solution. Moreover, you do not waste time to find out what you have to do. Therefore, you have less stress and more time to allocate on other not predictable issues that may appear. The prioritization of work helps you also to increase your performance, so you create a feeling of satisfaction and fulfilment.
Establish your limits
Every person has limits in work. You cannot work 12 to 14 hours every day. You need to have a balance between your work and your personal life. Put a limit on the hours you work. After 8 to maximum 10 hours of work per day, the rest extra hours are not productive. It is a waste of time, which you need for other valuable moments of your life. Remember, we do not live to work. We work in order to live.
Change your everyday routine
Following every day the same work routine will ruin your excitement to work. Try to introduce changes. For instance, perform meetings in different places (hotel meeting places, breakfast meetings, etc.) instead of the traditional meeting room of your company. Work some days from home or from another place. Generally, try to break, with every chance, the everyday routine. Be inventive on that. It is also beneficial for your employees.
Along with work you can enjoy life. Organize from time to time games in your office. For example, initiate PlayStation contests, or going in adventure parks, organizing football or basketball games, arranging a company reward trip, etc. At the end, you will feel that going to work is not just for working but also for having fun. In addition, you will create social bonds with your employees and a team spirit inside the company.
Establish time management
Time management will help you be more productive and more confident. If you do not know how to introduce it, Please find a relative post I have written: (http://www.ibbds.com/22-effective-time-management-tips-for-entrepreneurs) Time management will also save you useful time for your personal life.
Find time for innovation
It is always important to focus on the everyday operation of your business, but it is equally important to innovate, not only for competitive reasons, but mainly for yourself. Whenever we create something new, we all feel more alive. We regenerate our batteries and this is refreshing. Try to introduce brainstorm meetings often. You will be amazed how these meetings can lead to the birth of new products and services, therefore new excited goals.
Implement new projects that fit your vision
The above mentioned innovation will lead to the implementation of new projects. However, these new projects should be in accordance with your vision. The combination of something new, based on your initial vision, will awaken your senses and your motivation for achieving what you originally aimed for.
Be more selective with the info you keep
Do not waste your time for unusable information. Be more selective in what you read. We are all bombarded with hundreds of emails, offers and messages. We cannot read them all. Choose to read only what is extremely significant for you. You will manage to have a clear mind and more time to do things that you like.
Confront resistance to change
Many times we do not welcome change because it takes us out of our comfort zone. However, it is only then (out of our comfort zone), that we evolve. So, every time you catch yourself resisting in changes, remember also that. Progress without changes cannot be achieved. Furthermore, accept risk, (another thing that people afraid in changes), as part of life. Life without risk is a boring life.
Start a new hobby relative to your job
Starting a new hobby has been always refreshing. If you can combine a hobby that adds skills, relative to your job, that would be even better. Hobbies like chess, archery, climbing, fencing, cycling, etc. are very enjoyable, but most of all, they offer us many new skills relative to our work. For instance, skills like strategical thinking, persistence, self-discipline, attention to detail, focusing on a goal, and many others, that will help you increase your confidence and effectiveness.
Educate and train more yourself
Another solution would be to participate in a seminar or to start a training session in a field that you like and it can help you with your everyday performance. Out there, you will be able to find many courses for computers, various software solutions, marketing, management, web development, creative solutions etc. Prioritize what you need most and do not hesitate to go ahead. The knowledge that you will acquire will be beneficial for you, your business and your employees (if you teach them what you have learned).
Perform baby steps
One secret in life, when we feel overloaded with tasks and responsibilities, is to avoid thinking all of them together. It is easy to go crazy if you do not do that. The trick is to attack first the small tasks that we are able to confront, and as a result, to start having small winnings that will give us the courage, the strength and the experience needed to go further and to attack the larger fights and issues. Remember always that first we learn to walk, and then later on we learn to run. It is exactly the same in business.
Learn and practice meditation
It is true that our energy levels increase with meditation, not to mention that we feel very relaxed afterwards. As a result, try to learn a correct way to meditate (this is important) and then please try to practice it as often as possible. You will be amazed with the results, after a period of continuous practice. After all, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (French Philosopher)
Find a business partner
Finally, there is also the solution to find a business partner that is willing to share your goals. Search for a business partner that will be an asset for your business not a liability. What I mean is, that you should choose someone who is committed like you and who has the right credentials to be your business partner. Do not make a quick choice just to feel relaxed for a short period of time because at the end you may lose your business.
My personal opinion is that if you follow the above Path to Overcome Entrepreneurial Burnout you will manage to go back on track with more strength and more wisdom.
If you have any more suggestions of how to overcome entrepreneurial burnout please share it with us all.