Burn Notice: How to Recognise and Prevent Small Business Owner Burnout - Kreative Social Media
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Burn Notice: How to Recognise and Prevent Small Business Owner Burnout

Even though small business owners and entrepreneurs are their own bosses, the job rarely comes without its fair share of stress and hard work. As any small business owner or startup can tell you, working hard staying motivated, and succeeding in your livelihood is critical for success and to meet your business goals. But it’s easy to go overboard sometimes – even with the best of jobs – and find yourself burning out, losing your motivation, and making mistakes. There is hope for the hard-working business owners amongst us though. Learning how to recognise the signs of burnout, and how to avoid it or get help (for example, from a virtual assistant), can help entrepreneurs stay on track and keep hustling.

Signs of burnout

  1. Ailing Health: Burnout frequently shows itself by taking a toll on your health. Whether you’re experiencing back pain, depression, fatigue, or are just getting sick more often than you used to, these can all by symptoms caused or exacerbated by burnout. And whatever is causing your burnout is almost never worth the consequences on your health.
  2. Cognitive Difficulties: Stress affects the way we are able to process, retain and recall information. Declines in your ability to analyse problems and think creatively impact not only your quality of life, but also your ability to plan business strategy and resolve problems. If you find yourself with worse memory and focus than usual or are having trouble making decisions or controlling your emotions, burnout may be the culprit.
  3. Difficulty with Relationships: Burnout can sour your relationships with clients, colleagues, and friends. If you notice you are getting irritable more easily or are snapping at others more frequently, you might want to consider getting your stress levels under control.
  4. Losing Motivation: When you feel good about yourself and what you do, particularly with your job, motivation comes easily. You look forward to accomplishing your goals and view obstacles as challenges. When you find yourself in a state of burnout, everything feels like a struggle. A decline in productivity or a reluctance to take on difficult but critical projects can impact your business’ growth.
  5. Decreased Satisfaction: Similar to depression, burnout and stress can lead to a constant sense of dissatisfaction. Even if your longer hours are translating into some business successes, your sense of accomplishment at achieving goals may be diminished. A lack of satisfaction may erode your motivation, creating a vicious cycle.

How to Prevent Burnout

If you recognise any of the symptoms of burnout in yourself, don’t worry yet. It’s not impossible to pump the brakes before you feel completely overwhelmed.

  1. Disconnect: Whether we like it or intend it, we are constantly connected to others (our jobs included) through the electronics that surround us. Making yourself constantly available to your job 24/7 – whether it’s because you’re answering work calls on Saturday while out with your family or because you are checking emails late into the night – isn’t healthy and exposes you to a number of unnecessary stressors. When you don’t allow yourself to refocus and recharge, you are taking the opportunity to return to work refreshed away from yourself. If taking the entire weekend or evenings away from work isn’t an option, try setting specific times when you check emails or answer calls. Providing boundaries and allowing yourself to disconnect from work is important.
  2. Pay attention to your body: Rather than writing off that backache to another night of sleeping incorrectly, listen to your body. Aches, pain, and illness can often be the result of stress manifesting itself as physical ailments. When you start to feel run down, tired, achy, or sick, give your body and your brain a rest. Set an exercise regime and stick to it. The type of exercise you choose is less important than getting into a routine. Typically, exercising in the morning – before the craziness or the workday takes your energy – is best. Plans to work out in the evening are very frequently thwarted by having work to do or being too tired to do anything other than rest.
  3. Schedule “self-care” time: Just as it is important to schedule your work, it is important to plan for rest, relaxation, and other activities that YOU enjoy. This doesn’t necessarily mean scheduling a luxury weekend away every other month. You can do something simple such as giving yourself 30 minutes to read a book in the morning or getting a massage at the end of a particularly stressful week.
  4. Hire extra help if you need it: Consider delegating more of your work to other team members or hire a virtual assistant to help get some projects and tasks off your plate without having to worry about the cost and training of hiring a fulltime assistant. Recognising the downward slope of burnout before you feel completely swamped and defeated can help you get back on track more easily and before any lasting harm is done.