Owning a small business or startup can be exhilarating and fulfilling, but it can also come with stress and pressure to succeed. This passion and desire to thrive is essential but can often lead to long hours, anxiety, fatigue, and burnout.
Even the most motivated small business owner can run into obstacles when working towards their business goals. The key is to recognize burnout before it’s too late.
Exhaustion, overwhelmed, overworking, stress, and anxiety can all be signs of entrepreneurial burnout. Learn how to spot and treat the symptoms of burnout with these seven self-care tips for small business owners.
How to Recognize Signs of Burnout
Recognizing and admitting that you’re feeling burnt out isn’t easy, especially when you have a business to run. Ensuring your mental and physical health is in top shape is just as important as running a successful business.
Striving to create a sustainable work-life balance is a good goal for all business owners. Healthier well-being can have a positive ripple effect on your business and productivity.
Here are a few physical signs you may be approaching burnt out.
- Lack of motivation
- Trouble staying focused
- Sudden or frequent health problems
- Feeling exhausted, even after a good night’s sleep
- Feelings of frustration and anger at the slightest inconvenience at work
Why is Self-Care Important for Small Business Owners?
Self-care refers to positively contributing to your mental and physical well-being, particularly in times of stress.
Taking the time to practice self-care may seem like a waste of time or a sign of weakness, but it’s particularly vital for business owners and leaders. Practicing self-care can help avoid burnout, decrease stress, and increase creativity as well as productivity. You’re better equipped to run a successful business when you’re performing your best.
7 Self-Care Tips to Beat Burnout
Below is a compilation of seven beneficial self-care tips to help small business owners avoid pouring themselves mentally, physically, and emotionally into their business to the point of burnout.
1. Learn to Say No
We live in a world that’s constantly “on.” While it may seem significant to go to work mixers, conferences, networking events, or even take on every client/customer/project that comes your way, there is a threshold.
Staying busy with work activities to the point of excess isn’t as productive as prioritizing the most valuable tasks and saying no to the rest.
An important lesson for every business owner is that you don’t need to do everything. Learning to say no to what doesn’t serve you is almost as important as saying yes to the things that do.
It’s not always easy to say no, but setting personal boundaries at work for your mental and physical health is a must. In time, saying no to unnecessary meetings or unwanted plans will become easier and free up your time to engage in productive work that can help your business thrive.
A helpful tip to start saying no with more confidence is to create a “Do not do” list. To help maintain focus on what’s imperative to the success of your business, make a list of activities and work you want to avoid. This could include meetings or conferences, working on the weekends, attending more than two networking events each month, and much more.
Whatever doesn’t serve the success of your business and your well-being, add it to the list. Then, check it before accepting or declining a new offer.
2. Find a Co-Working Buddy or a Support Network
Burnout can feel like you’re overworked or super stressed out, but it can also feel like you have no support. It can feel like you’re on your own and that the fate of your business is solely up to you.
Instead of turning inward when these feelings arise, reach out to others for support. Surround yourself with friends, family, co-workers, and peers that encourage your ideas and share similar visions.
Having a support group of peers in your industry that you can reach out to when you need to vent, ask questions, or share wins is crucial to staying motivated. Having a community to lean on during difficult times can take some stress off your plate.
If you need to build a support system, looking into networking events, local meetups, conferences, or online forums is a great way to meet like-minded people to build a network of support.
If you happen to be a solo business founder, work is bound to get lonely. Consider setting up work dates with friends for coffee to get out of the house or even a working lunch where you can run ideas past each other. This can be done with online work friends as well. Set up weekly conference calls or create an online chat to keep each other accountable.
Making a support network with like-minded business owners and friends who can empathize with what you’re going through can help manage your mental health.
3. Take Breaks
If you’re struggling with burnout, it could be time to take a well-deserved break. Many business owners are wired to be hard workers – but making sure you take time to rest and recharge can boost productivity in the long run.
It’s also essential to take breaks during the day. Take lunch, go for a walk, and chat with your employees or business partners. It’s necessary to take some time to recharge and reset your brain between tasks at work to make sure you can focus and feel more energized.
A clever way to do this is to set a reminder on your phone to leave your desk at regular intervals throughout the day or block off work and rest time on your calendar. Scheduling breaks like you would meetings will keep you accountable to yourself.
Taking vacation time is vital. Take time during the holidays to spend with friends and family, book a vacation, or plan a spa day. Whatever feels right for you, make time for it.
4. Ask for Help and Delegate Tasks
Don’t be afraid to lean on your team when you feel overwhelmed. Outsource tasks that drain you or areas of the business that aren’t your expertise. These activities can use up tons of unnecessary energy.
Investing in a team that can help your business expand and grow may tighten your budget, but it can return the cost in more ways than just revenue in the long run.
Training your team to manage day-to-day responsibilities and delegating work can take some pressure off of you, allowing you to focus on growing your business instead of worrying about smaller tasks.
General tasks such as bookkeeping, payroll, and maintenance are all great jobs to delegate to employees or outside agencies.
5. Don’t Sacrifice Your Routine
Starting a business takes work, and it can be easy to skip personal time when you have a busy day, week, or month. Establishing a morning and evening routine can bring a sense of control in stressful times.
Even if you’re not a big routine person, try starting your day with a cup of tea or coffee and a few minutes of doing something just for yourself; this could be meditating, journaling, stretching, or even scrolling through social media. Implementing some “me time” into your daily schedule can be valuable to new and experienced business owners.
Taking time after work to reflect on the day and take stock of your mental well-being can also be a great way to end the day.
This “me time” can be written into your daily schedule to ensure you make time for yourself each day, even while at work.
6. Set Office Hours
When you work for yourself as a small business owner putting in long hours is generally the norm and perceived as part of the job. But that shouldn’t always be the case.
If you find yourself constantly bringing work home, pulling all-nighters, or downtime is nonexistent, these are all clear signs of overworking. Setting reasonable office hours for yourself and your staff can prevent burnout.
Setting specific hours for work and sticking to them can help you accomplish more each day. When you establish precise rest and work times, you can work more optimally to achieve your work goals during your designated office hours while getting time to unwind and relax before jumping back into work the next day.
7. Set Goals
Something as simple as setting and completing achievable goals can remind you of what you’re working so hard for.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by work, try setting short-term goals to help motivate and reward you and your team for hard work and dedication.
Some goals you could set include hiring employees, outsourcing menial tasks, posting regularly on social media to attract attention to your company, getting incorporated, or securing your first new client.
Once you’ve reached one of your goals, be sure to celebrate the accomplishment.
Lack of funding can also be a stressor for startup and small business owners. Turning to small business financing opportunities to alleviate financial pressure can be a huge source of relief.
If your business requires working capital quickly, financing solutions such as merchant cash advances, small business lines of credit, and small business loans can help your business get the financing it needs.
A merchant cash advance gives businesses upfront access to a lump sum of cash in return for a portion of the business’s future revenue receivables at a discounted price.
Funds from a merchant cash advance can be used to overcome unexpected costs that reduce cash flow, hire new employees, or monetize your bookkeeping or payroll with new software.
A line of credit is a flexible financing option that allows quick access to a set amount of working capital. Businesses can conveniently draw on the working capital as needed and are only responsible for repaying funds they use.
A line of credit can be a great way to support any marketing and advertising needs, optimize your business technology, or invest in the growth of your business.
Small business loans are flexible lending options that offer businesses working capital with set payment amounts and dates. Once approved for a set amount, the working capital will be deposited into a business bank account for immediate use.
Small business loans can help with gaps in cash flow, purchasing equipment, and so much more!
Starting a business is hard work. And when your life is your job, it can be hard to separate the two, but consistency is crucial. When you feel overwhelmed and burnout creeping in, remember to take a step back and practice the self-care tips discussed here.
Integrating boundaries, setting goals, saying no, delegating work, putting yourself first, and reaching out for support can help make you a more productive and successful business owner. When you take care of yourself, you’re also taking care of your business.