4 Tips to Prevent Small Business BurnoutElance_Keith | Nov 11, 2011
Having a small business is a dream for many, but along with the flexibility and autonomy comes the potential to overwork yourself since you alone likely control your success. Freelance writer Brandi-Ann Uyemura offers her four tips on how to keep you (and consequently your business) from fizzling out.
It’s not hard to go from busy to burnout when it comes to running your own business. Being your own boss is a blessing and a curse. You have the freedom to create your own hours, work on handpicked projects and essentially run your business the way you want it. But as it is with owning a house, you can’t rely on the maintenance man to come fix your plumbing anymore. Your paycheck’s now 100% dependent on the work you produce and you’re the only person responsible for it.
Over time that pressure can build to insurmountable heights. Without anyone telling you it’s time to go home and with the knowledge that no work equals no pay, it’s all too easy to burn the candle at both ends. And that doesn’t bode well for you, your health, your relationships or your business.
How do you maintain your business and your sanity? Use the following tips as a guide to keep burnout at bay and help you balance your business and your life.
Hire A Team
It may be tempting to do it all yourself especially for you "Type A" personalities out there. No one can do it better than you right? Consider this. The busier you get, the harder it’s going to be to keep all those balls in the air. And the truth is there are people who can do a better job than you. Do an inventory of your skills and competencies. When you find an aspect of your job that you’re just not good at (finances, writing, administrative work) or dislike, highlight it. Then look for professionals that can help you in that area of work.
On Elance you can hire an accountant, a virtual assistant or an online copywriter, for example. You may think that DIY (do it yourself) saves you money. But when it comes to managing your business, doing everything yourself is costing you time and time equals money.
Take Self-Care Seriously
Maybe you can’t afford that big vacation this year. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a break. Believe it or not, you do have the funds and the time to take one. You just need to get creative. Schedule a staycation for the weekend or an overnight stay at your local hotel. Don’t have enough time? Take a day to spend getting a massage, playing a round of golf, or just go for a hike. Still can’t fit it in? Then, schedule a few moments throughout your day to go walking. Spend five minutes focusing on your breath or promise to reward yourself with an hour of reading for pleasure, watching a movie or going out to dinner for an intense session of working today. The better you are at taking care of yourself, the more successful you will be.
One thing that tends to overwhelm small business owners is that there is always so much to do. The feeling that you’ll never get everything done can feel like a limitless inbox. Getting organized is one way to minimize stress and prevent burn out. Organizing your office helps. This means eliminating papers you no longer need, de-cluttering your desk and also creating a spreadsheet of what needs to get done and when. Prioritizing what you need to get done daily, weekly, monthly and yearly is a great way to put your goals in perspective. Instead of reacting to emails, new projects and phone calls in a state of urgency, begin to focus your attention on what needs to be done now and the near future.
A lot of online tools can help you with that. Gmail, for example, allows you to coordinate your emails by colors and symbols to easily see which tasks are urgent and which ones can be addressed later. You can also use project management programs like Basecamp, which helps you manage projects online.
Make sure you’re not too busy to rekindle your romance with work. When you spend time diligently committing yourself to your business, sometimes you lose track of why you started it in the first place. Revisit your place of passion by taking a course on an aspect of your field that you’re interested in. It will give you new ideas to improve your business, cultivate new skills and fuel a sense of passion and purpose for your business. As extra credit, take a class in something that has nothing to do with your company. Learn how to garden, surf, do yoga or tai chi. When you engage in something new, you invite possibility and ideas into your life. It’s not only a great way to run your business but also an awesome way to live your life.
About the Author
Brandi-Ann Uyemura is a full-time freelance writer. She is the associate editor for Psych Central, has a monthly column for The Writer magazine and is a features writer, blogger and a copywriter. Visit her on her website: Brandi-AnnUyemura.com.