Even under the best of conditions, small business owners can be susceptible to burnout. The day to day pressures of running a small business, often on razor-thin profit margins, can take their toll and lead to feelings of fatigue, frustration and despair. The prolonged downturn of the U.S. economy has been especially hard on small business owners and has lead to what some business experts are now calling an epidemic of business burnout.
Daniel Murphy is the president of Growth Coach, a Cincinnati-based business coaching franchise. Murphy says, “The recession, the weak recovery, they’ve increased the pressures on everybody,” and adds, “I see signs of burnout all over the place.”
Recognize the Warning Signs of Business BurnOut
Business burnout is a condition that manifests itself over time. In many cases, it can go relatively unnoticed until it has firmly taken hold of you. It’s imperative that you know the outward signs of burnout in order to take the appropriate actions to overcome it.
The condition can be evidenced by extreme fatigue, sleeplessness and feelings of hopeless or “business owner blues” as Murphy has termed it.
Other symptoms can include sudden and dramatic mood swings, a lack of enthusiasm and self doubt. You may also find that you have a tendency to overreact to situations that would typically not have been cause for concern. You may also find that you’re becoming absent-minded or easily distracted.
Left untended over time, business burnout can lead to physical illness and clinical depression.
Combating Business Burnout
According to Murphy, your first step in combating business burnout should be to “accept the situation.” Realize that burnout is fairly common among small business owners. In most cases, it is also a temporary state that will pass with time.
Don’t Isolate Yourself
Another common symptom of business burnout is the desire to isolate oneself from others until the malaise has passed. Unfortunately, isolation can intensify the condition. Sharing your feelings and seeking the help of trusted business associates, colleagues, your spouse or even a business coach, can speed up your recovery time.
Burnout can sap your energy and make even mild physical activity seem like an insurmountable challenge. But engaging in physical activity is one of the best ways to fight burnout. If you already engage in an exercise routine, stick with it. If you’re generally more sedentary, change your ways.
Even mild exercise can be a highly effective weapon in your battle with burnout. You might consider taking morning walks before heading to the office or stopping off at the driving range to hit a bucket of balls on your way home in the evening. If you have young children or pets, spend some additional time with them. Whatever physical activity you choose to partake in, commit to doing it on a regular basis — preferably daily.
Take Stock of Your Business
Spend some time getting reacquainted with your business. For many small business owners, the day-to-day minutia of running their enterprise causes them to lose sight of the reasons they started the business in the first place.
Most entrepreneurs begin their businesses because they love what they do, not because they want to become administrators. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what many of them become over time. Delegate the unpleasant business tasks that have robbed you of your enthusiasm and focus more of your time and energy on what caused you to want to start your business in the first place.
Focus on the Future
Business burnout afflicts most small business owners from time to time. In most cases, it’s a temporary condition that will pass provided it is acknowledged and dealt with like any other obstacle. That means looking beyond the current situation and devising an effective strategy to keep burnout from becoming a recurring problem in the future.