Is your small business burning you out? If you recognize any of these five warning signs, it might be time for a change.
“I often ask people, ‘are you working late or are you working yourself to death?'”—Dena Patton
Some people thrive on the high-stress, “always-on” lifestyle of an entrepreneur. They love the long hours, the high level of risk, and the constant pressure associated with being a self-starter. Thing is, most of those same people also understand their limits—they know where and when to set boundaries so that they don’t burn out.
See, that’s the thing about living a high-stress life. If you don’t know how to properly manage the pressure, you’re bound to wind up a nervous, unhealthy wreck, alienated from both family and friends. The most successful entrepreneurs are those who understand the need for balance—the ones who understand that they need to take care of themselves as much as their business.
Are you one of the ones who has managed to find balance, or do you fall into the latter camp? Have a look at these warning signs and see if any of them describe you. If they do, you need to take a step back and reevaluate a few things.
Otherwise, your business might well be the death of you.
Your Body Has Seen Better Days
Your diet makes the food eaten by college kids seem healthy and balanced. You can’t remember the last time you had a good night’s sleep, and the only exercise you had in the past several months involved the walk from your car to the office.
When we get thoroughly engrossed in our work—whatever that work may be—one of the first things we begin to neglect is our physical well-being. We start skipping the odd meal or two, or springing for fast food in lieu of healthier alternatives (after all, it takes way longer to cook up a healthy dinner than to order pizza). Eventually—often before we realize it—we’re on the fast track to severe health problems later in life.
You Can’t Remember When You Last Spent Time with Friends or Family
That person you used to call your husband or wife is fast becoming a stranger. You’re a ghost to your friends, and your children barely talk to you anymore. The only thing you have is your job—and people are beginning to take notice.
Personal health isn’t the only thing to suffer if you throw yourself too completely into your work. There’s a reason so many entrepreneurs end up getting a divorce—a self-starting entrepreneur introduces a great deal of tension into his relationship, and not just because of the financial instability so often associated with a startup. People might start to feel resentful that their loved one seems to care more about the business than their relationship. Resentment turns to anxiety, and anxiety to alienation.
In many cases, a small business owner could well end up alone before they even realize they’ve done anything wrong.
You’ve Stopped Caring About…Well, Everything
Deeper down the rabbit hole we go. One of the surest signs that you’re starting to burn out is that many of the things that once held great joy for you now fail to catch your interest. You can’t relate to customers and clients, your hobbies seem boring and dull, and you feel disconnected from your family members.
This is a sign of two things—severe depression and burnout. Oddly enough, the two often go hand in hand. You may want to talk to someone if you’ve reached this point—otherwise, you’re on the road to disaster.
You Feel Totally Drained All the Time
Are you having trouble thinking? Do questions that once only took a few seconds of your time now consume your mind for hours upon hours? Can you even remember the last time you felt relaxed, rested, and focused?
Congratulations—you’re overworking yourself, and your physical health is starting to go down the toilet as a result.
You Kind of Wish Your Business Would Hurry Up and Fail
If you’ve reached the point where you’re beginning to hate your business, you’ve hit rock bottom. The biggest driving force behind the success of a small business is the passion of the entrepreneur who founded it. Without that passion, there’s no business—pure and simple. If you’ve come to this, then you need to seek help, otherwise your entire life is going to start falling apart—starting with the company you worked so hard to build.
Seeking Out a New Life
Alright, so you know a few of the symptoms that you’re headed for small business burnout. Now what can you do about it? How can you nip this in the bud before it destroys you?
Well, first and foremost…stop trying to do everything yourself. You presumably have a team of employees working with you to help your business succeed, right? Start delegating tasks to them. Make it a point to make more time for friends, family, and leisure, and set limits as to how much of your life you’re going to devote to work.
Second, if you’ve reached the point where you’re feeling disconnected, resentful, or drained, talk to someone, whether it’s a colleague, mentor, or therapist. Ask them for help—and let them know exactly how you’ve been feeling. Chances are they’ve been through something similar (or they’re trained to deal with this, if they’re a therapist).
Last but certainly not least, start exercising, eating right, and sleeping well. If you aren’t physically healthy, then it doesn’t matter what else you do—you’re still going to be in a rut.
Some people thrive on stress. Maybe you’re one of them. Even if you are, you need to make sure you have balance in your life—and that you’re capable of recognizing when your business is running you ragged.
Author: Justin Blanchard has been responsible for leading initiatives that increase brand visibility, sales growth and B2B community engagement. He has been at the core of developing systems, tools and processes that specifically align with Server Mania’s client’s needs. Server Mania provides internet hosting solutions with industry leading customer service, superior up-time and cutting-edge technologies.
Published: November 4, 2014