Seven Signs That You’re About to Burn Out


Seven Signs That You’re About to Burn Out

We all know how exciting it can be running your own show, but we also know how demanding, stressful and exhausting it is.

Even when things are going well, the effort required to keep a Small Business going is huge. And if things aren’t going well, it can be even harder.

What is business owner burnout?

Business owner burnout, at a minimum, is when a business owner gets so tired and stressed that they simply can’t function productively in the business anymore.

At the extreme, it can result in depression and other mental and physical health issues and significant time away from the business, or even the closing of the business.

Seven warning signs to watch out for:

1. You’re having trouble sleeping because you’re thinking about work.

This can be either trouble getting to sleep or waking up during the night.

2. You can’t relax.

Occasionally and deliberately working over a weekend is fine when you’re busy. We’ve all been there. The problems start when you’re not supposed to be working, but you still can’t let go. Rest and relaxation are absolutely vital to keeping your small business going.

If you’re thinking about work on a Saturday night while watching your favourite movie and having a glass of wine, you’ve forgotten how to relax. Thinking about work a lot is okay; thinking about work all the time is not.

3. You’ve stopped enjoying your business.

Most of us have a few parts of our job we don’t like, i.e. bookkeeping, sales calls, etc. Whatever it is, that’s fine. The problems start when you stop enjoying the parts of your work you used to enjoy.

Odds are you started a Small Business because you could offer a product or service that you are passionate about and can do really well. Losing that passion is a sign you need a break.

4. You’re constantly in a bad mood.

If you’re in a bad mood all day, every day, it’s time to take a hard look at what you’re doing, because that’s not a sustainable way to operate. Are you not enjoying the work? Are you working too many hours? Are you taking on the wrong clients or types of projects?

5. You’re stressed all the time.

Stress is unavoidable in life, and some stress may actually be good for you as it pushes you to perform. But constant high levels of stress can have very bad mental and physical effects, such as headaches, fatigue, digestive problems and changes in sleep patterns, and in more severe cases long-term stress can lead to depression.

6. Your performance is dropping.

If you’ve started making more errors than you usually do, or you just generally feel that you are not performing up to your usual high standard, it’s a good sign you need a break.

7. You are constantly procrastinating.

A bit of procrastination occasionally is not unusual, but when it starts to become a habit and begins to affect your work, something might be wrong.

What should you do if you are worried about business owner burnout?

If you think you might be heading downhill, here are some tips to help you try to turn things around:

  • Be honest with yourself and your assessment of your situation – Are you going through a normal patch of business being a bit difficult, but you’re confident you’re near the end of it? Or, have you been having problems for a while, you think it’s been getting worse, and you don’t see an end in sight?
  • Try to take a break as soon as you can – A few days off can help, but if you’re really struggling, you may need a few weeks. If you think you can’t afford the time away from work, how will your business go if you keep pushing yourself too hard and end up needing a month or two off?
  • Talk to someone – This can be a friend, family member, colleague or mentor. Just talking can make you feel better, and you can also get some valuable advice. When you are too close to a problem, sometimes it can be hard to see the way out.
  • Get help in the office – Find ways to lighten your workload to reduce your stress levels and hours.
  • Get professional help – If you are really having a hard time, you may need medical help. Go to see your GP first to discuss what’s going on. If needed, your GP will be able to refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist.

Business owner burnout is not uncommon. I’ve been there, and I know plenty of others who have as well.

Keep an eye out for the warning signs, and get help immediately if you need it.

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