If you are reading this then you are probably thinking about launching your own business, am I right?
For many people, and many mums specifically, this is living the dream.
It was (and still is) for me.
But one of the worst things you can do is go into it unrealistically and then burnout as a result.
Burnout – arghh! It’s like a swear word.
Mums tend to be realistic sorts just because of the steep learning curve we get thrown on when we first become mums.
No matter how hard you think parenting is going to be, the reality is harder. So, we know from then on in life, this could be the case.
And it is the case with launching your own dream business. It is harder than you think it will be.
But it is also inordinately rewarding in a way that nothing else in your life can compare to. Again, much like parenting.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”I have found that there are many secrets that people don’t tell you about being an entrepreneur and running your own business, both big and small.” quote=”I have found that there are many secrets that people don’t tell you about being an entrepreneur and running your own business, both big and small.”]
I’m all about breaking through the secrets however!
Because as a mum and an entrepreneur I am a realist.
Entrepreneur burnout is one of those secrets that people tend not to discuss
You probably have a friend or family member who tried to start their own business and had it fail.
People often don’t want to talk too much about why their business failed, so you might not get all the details on what went wrong.
Losing money is an incredibly hard experience.
But failing at your own business is also a blow to your professional confidence, your personal self-esteem, and you can grieve its loss almost like a loved one.
Why do entrepreneurs and start-up business owners burnout?
Did you know that, as an entrepreneur, especially if you are travelling solo, you are at a higher risk for burnout than any other working group?
Studies show that the main reasons for this are an entrepreneur’s different relationship with time, decisions and control when compared to people who are employed.
TIME, DECISIONS and CONTROL
You know, just the little stuff…
Let’s look at some reasons why this happens:
Because, for an entrepreneur, their livelihood, savings and often even their home can be tied up in the business.
Because they never clock off and go home.
Because if you are doing things right there will always be more work that you could be doing.
Because the dual guilt of being a mum and running your own business may never let up.
Because succeeding at this can feel like it defines you as a professional.
Because every decision you make is on your head (whereas the people affected by your decisions are usually numerous, such as your kids, partner, and staff)
Sorry, I might have scared you a little bit there, but remember – all about the realism…
You will thank me in the end (maybe).
As your business grows the decisions you make get harder because the stakes get higher.
Once you get a bit of success happening the stress can increase because of tougher or higher paying clients as well as managing staff.
You may have convinced yourself that you have to have this constant level of positivity and energy around your business, especially when other people ask you about it.
You don’t want to say, ‘You know, it kind of sucks half the time.’
How can you recognise burnout?
There is a flame burning in you for your dream online business and you need this flame to stay alive to be a success at what you are doing.
When burnout happens this flame inside you literally goes out.
Running your own business is something that involves your whole person, and will affect your body, mind, and soul. Burnout is the end result from long-term, consistent and unrelenting stress.
Stress, by its very definition, it a warning sign to your body that you are doing too much. This warning sign means ‘Remove what is stressing you, because your body is under pressure.’
Stress happens because there is a mismatch between you and what you are doing. The best thing you can do is identify the source, or sources, of the mismatch, and then do what you can do bring some sort of balance back into your life.
What are the Symptoms?
One of the first ways you will notice burnout beginning is physically – you will start to get run down and sick.
People also report burnout starting in their brain.
(Unfortunately, when you are running your own business you need your brain!)
Burnout appears as lack of focus, problems with memory, or brain fog.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you tired to the point of exhaustion?
- Have you suffered from ongoing sickness such as colds, stomach bugs, headache, backache etc.?
- Are you having trouble sleeping?
- Do you feel anxious or overwhelmed?
- Have you lost interest or become disengaged in your business?
- Are you quick to anger?
- Are you constantly worried about your business?
- Have you lost interest in the parts of the business that you used to love?
- Have you lost focus or creativity?
So how can you prevent it?
Or if it is already happening, how can you pull it back and rekindle your flame again?
There is an easy 4-step process to pulling yourself back from burnout.
- Notice the signs and symptoms
- Admit the truth to yourself and those closest to you
- Commit to making a change before things get any worse
- Give yourself a break and some regular respite or breathing space.
I find that it can be in the little steps and the little decisions that you can help yourself the most. Try a few of these things…
Recognise the things you can and can’t control, and focus on the ones that you can. Let the others go. (That Queen Elsa; she was a smart lady)
Reduce your number of choices so you don’t become overwhelmed.
Reduce the amount of decisions you need to make in your home life, and wherever possible, make other parts of your life easier.
Even the most creative people work better within some limits and constraints. For example, think:
‘I am going to stick with 4 main fabrics this year’ or ‘I’m going to nail Instagram and Pinterest before attacking LinkedIn’
Set yourself a space for your business, such as an office or corner of the living room, and then leave it there.
Don’t take work into every room of your house, and if you can, leave it out of the bedroom.
Set yourself strict work hours and nonwork hours. This can be difficult in a global and online world, but this makes it even more necessary.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Entrepreneurs have a big problem with just pushing on or pushing through stuff.” quote=”Entrepreneurs have a big problem with just pushing on or pushing through stuff.”]
If you are hungry or tired, don’t push through – pick up on your body’s signals and take that break when you need it.
Manage your time by your energy, not by your urgency (I love this concept!)
Work out when you have the most focus or creativity, and schedule your tasks across the day to match.
You don’t have to knock off at midnight if this is when your creative juices are best flowing and you get in the zone. If your energy is high, keep working.
The times of day when your energy is lower, schedule the repetitive, mundane tasks. (I find that these can even have a soothing effect.)
This is the really important stuff!!
Don’t ignore what your body and brain are trying to tell you.
Take time out to focus on yourself and practice a self-awareness technique.
Mindfulness is lovely for this, or regular solo exercise like walking, running or swimming.
I know the feeling: you feel burnt out because you think you need a month’s worth of holidays, but you can reverse burnout by taking 20 minutes a day of rejuvenation.
This is one thing that mumpreneurs are pretty good at, and it will always be important.
You need a support network, which won’t always come from your partner or close friends. Sometimes it needs to come from other people who just ‘get it’, which is why Business Jump’s support groups are such a great ongoing source of information, advice, and comfort.
Cut yourself some slack. Take breaks, get regular respite and allow some breathing space in every day.
If your energy is flagging, take a break. Don’t be dictated by the urgency of the work you have to do.
There will always be more work to do. Learn to knock off, switch off, and then clock back on tomorrow, rejuvenated.
Turn off your phone at a reasonable time and go offline; read a book, watch trashy tv, flick through a magazine or have a bath.
Think of your business as a marathon, not a sprint. You can’t sustain a high level of pressure for a long period of time.
Don’t tell yourself, ‘I’m going to get a massage when I hit fifty clients’
Or, ‘I will take my daughter to a café tomorrow, I have a million emails to answer today.’
Don’t just save your breaks or the rewards for when you have achieved a certain amount of work or reached a certain level in your business.
Your rewards should be the fuel the keeps your fire burning, your fuel is the things that you love and that light your fire.
So, take walks in the middle of the day, drop everything and play with your kids, go out to a café for really good coffee and a large piece of cake.
These are the reasons you chose the entrepreneur path in the first place.