If you’ve been trying to start or run your own business for any length of time, you know it can be hard work. You also know that burnout eventually sets in, but it can come on pretty quickly too. Sometimes, it’s the burnout that keeps you from succeeding. However, there are usually underlying reasons why you start to feel burned out in the first place. Recognise those reasons, and you can move on and minimise the feeling of burnout as much as possible.
What causes burnout?
People suffer from burnout for different reasons. Some are common factors experienced by a lot of people, while others are not so common. We’re going to discuss the most common causes.
Often, people suffer from more than one of these areas. This can lead to almost total devastation for the business owner and take a while for recovery. Let’s try to avoid these common pitfalls from the beginning. If you’re already seeing these in yourself and your business, then it’s time to make some changes.
1) The Wrong Business
This is the most common cause of burnout and often leads to failure. If you’re in the wrong business, doing things you hate, if you dread trying to work on your business, it’s likely you’re in the wrong business. This does not mean you’re a failure. It simply means you’ve failed to create a business or business model that resonates with you.
When you hate what you’re doing and have to force yourself into doing it, that’s no different than having a regular job outside the home. You came into business to escape that rat race. Don’t build a business that’s going to feel like any other job to you!
2) The Wrong Niche
Another leading cause of burnout is being in the wrong niche. Perhaps you’ve picked the right business model, like affiliate marketing or a niche blog where you sell products, but if it’s in a niche that doesn’t resonate with you, it’s likely you will suffer burnout or maybe even give up on it completely.
Never choose a niche because you think it will make money, or because someone else is making money in it. If it’s not your thing, you should avoid it. Instead, think of a niche that you do love and figure out ways you can monetise it and earn money from it.
3) Not Knowing Enough
This can be frustrating and overwhelming. You know you have most of the pieces to this internet marketing puzzle, but for some reason you can’t get them all together. You even watch your favourite marketers to see what they do, but it still doesn’t click.
What are you doing wrong? It could be that you aren’t doing anything wrong. You simply may not be doing enough of the right things.
It can be really difficult to figure out what the right things are. One way is to scale back on doing too many activities. Target a few things until they become habit.
Once you’ve scaled back, this will help you avoid “shiny new object syndrome”. This is the problem that affects many entrepreneurs – we always feel we need to learn more about the latest and greatest technique, instead of sticking to what we’re already doing.
Sure, you will want to broaden your skills and knowledge at some point, but you can only concentrate on a limited area at first. If you haven’t figured that out yet, don’t keep buying info product after info product hoping that you will. Focus and you’ll eventually feel like things are moving into place.
Of course, if you’re really struggling you can always hire a mentor to kick-start your business (as long as you can afford it).
4) No Systems in Place
This can be a tricky. Chances are you’re not even sure what systems you need to have in place to make running your business more efficient and streamlined. You search on-line for types of systems, but the results you get are just more articles telling you to get systems put in place!
A system can be as simple as having a daily routine. When you have certain things you do on a routine basis, develop a system for getting it done in a short amount of time.
• Set up templates for emails
• Schedule social media updates to go out through the day so you’re not having to check in every hour
• Set up a blog posting schedule
• Schedule a time to update your financial files
5) Trying To Do Too Much
This one can definitely lead to burnout pretty quickly. For example, if you’re still new to running a business, you probably can’t afford to outsource a bunch of the daily tasks yet. In this case, it’s a good time to take stock of where you’re at, what absolutely has to be done and what can be taken off the list.
For instance, if keeping up with Facebook isn’t bringing in business for you, give it a break and focus on another site that is. If you’re getting ReTweets on Twitter, people are sharing your content and your business, which may be a better place to spend your time networking. If neither of those are bringing you results, maybe that time would be better spent in a forum, a membership site or with a mastermind group.
If you’re feeling social media too overwhelming due to all the different networks out there, you can focus on your favourites, or make use of a premium service like Buffer App or HootSuite to make them all easier to manage from one place.
Running your own business really is about balance and juggling a lot of things. You have to decide what’s bringing in results, what isn’t and cut out the things that aren’t bringing you results.
Also consider the quality of the results you’re getting. For example, you may have thousands of Twitter followers and get a lot of replies, but if they don’t lead to sales of your product or service then is your time really best spent there?
Remember – when you do have a stable cash flow, then outsourcing is the best way to expand your business. You simply won’t be able to reach the level you want on your own, and you’ll feel burned out!
6) Not Using Your Strengths
You may be wondering how this can lead to burnout. The truth is if you’re focusing on doing things you’re not good at, it’s not only be a big waste of time it will also suck your mental energy. If you’re not good at web design, don’t do it. Either save the money to have it outsourced or barter with a web designer and offer them your skills in return.
If social networking isn’t your strength, stop trying to be a social butterfly. You can still share useful information and be nice, but you do not have to comment on everyone’s posts to get attention. Just be yourself, share your content along with other great content and leave it at that.
Do figure out what your strengths are and work with those. If you’re good at graphic design or writing, then target people who are looking for those services instead of people looking for complete web design. If you’re good at motivating others, consider a coaching business to help people stay focused and inspired.
Remember – it makes a lot more sense to work to your strengths than spending all your energy working on your weaknesses!
7) Not Specialising
This one can go hand in hand with not using your strengths. If you’re offering a ton of services and having to jump from project to project to get things done, you should consider specialising in only a few things.
Once you’re business is established you can add more services, hire helpers and outsource some of the work. For now, though, stop trying to do so many things at once. Stick to a few things until you’re established in those areas.
8) Too Much Repetition
On the other hand, doing things that are repetitious and tedious can zap your energy and cause burnout too. If there are small tasks that must be done each week, maybe it’s time to hire a VA to get those done.
Using a VA is great for things that only take 15 to 30 minutes, but it will save you a lot of frustration. Most VAs charge by the hour, but they will track how many 10 to 15 mins time blocks they do for you and make sure you get your full hour’s worth of work. You may only need to purchase one hour per month for some things. This makes it very cost effective for you and can keep you from putting off those mundane tasks.
9) Networking the Wrong Way
This one is definitely hard to balance. You need to network and get to know other people in your field, find possible clients and partners, but if you spend too much time in this area, it will eat into your work time. On the other hand, if you spend too much time trying to work and not enough time chatting with other business owners, mentors or people who are trying to start their own business, you can suffer burnout by feeling like you’re all alone in this venture.
The opposite of not networking enough is doing it too much. This can lead you to comparing your success to others who are more successful or further along in the game than you are. There’s a fine balance between being inspired by others, taking action to create your own success or simply watching their success until it brings you down. If all you’re doing is watching their success, it can leave you feeling uninspired or thinking you’ll never make it to that level!
Remember, they put in a lot of long hours and hard work to get where they are today. If you take action and do the same, you can have similar results. However, you still need to take breaks from work or it will lead to burnout.
10) Not Planning
This is an area where many newbies fail. It can lead to burnout because if you don’t spend some time making weekly and monthly plans, you will end up wasting time each day trying to figure out what you should be doing. After a while, this leaves you frustrated and making very little progress.
Spend an hour or two at the beginning of each month deciding what you want to accomplish for the month, whether it’s gaining new clients, building your email list, making more sales or doing product creation. Define your monthly goals and then break those down into weekly tasks.
At the end of each workday, see what’s on tomorrow’s schedule so you’ll know what to expect each day. Also, spend some time on Sunday evening looking over your weekly plans so you know what’s ahead for the week and which areas you need to focus on.
There’s a common phrase that states:
People don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan
Benjamin Franklin said “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
Don’t be one of those. Start working on your monthly plans – you can do this several months in advance or even make out a yearly plan. Just get busy planning.
Remember, even the best plans are bound to change, and working for yourself does mean you have the flexibility to change them if you want to. Don’t let that stop you from planning in the first place, though. It’ll really help your productivity and reduce feelings of burnout!
Following the tips above will help prevent you from becoming burned out in these keys areas. Business building can be hard work and it can take time. Don’t let yourself get discouraged or feel overwhelmed if things aren’t working as fast as you’d like. Simply take account of where you’re at, where you want to be, and which unimportant tasks you can eliminate to keep you from feeling overwhelmed.
And remember, if you do get burnt out, it’s OK to take some time out to get things back on track. Things will get better if you work on them!
I’m Jane Travis, and I’ve been a counsellor/psychotherapist since 2005 at Reflections Counselling Lincoln, run the Lincoln Counsellors Network and also www.janetravis.com.
I started my counselling business out of necessity because there were and still are woefully few salaried counselling positions, but had 2 small businesses before that. My biggest challenge – confidence. I still find it a challenge to put myself out there!
In my counselling business, I see people with all kinds of issues but have a special interest in executive stress and issues around food. Within JaneTravis.com, I work with women that are people pleasers, looking at self-care and communication to help them find balance in their lives.
As a counsellor, I have seen hundreds of different women that run themselves ragged trying to be all things to all people, their own needs at the bottom of the pile while they are there for everyone else. And it’s a serious issue – they are tired, exhausted, overwhelmed which can lead to stress, anxiety and depression.
And I get it! As a recovering people pleaser myself, I know what it’s like. The need to be accepted, liked and loved is so strong we’ll exhaust ourselves rather than say no and risk disapproval, conflict and rejection.
I use all my training and experience as a counsellor to help them make real, fundamental changes and start to value themselves and protect themselves from the takers in this world.
I have been networking regularly for some years now, and I think it’s a valuable tool for business women. Running a business can be a lonely place so it’s great to form friendships with others that understand the unique issues we have. As a business tool, it helps you raise your profile locally, and give and receive referrals.
I’m a big fan of women-only networking. Much as I appreciate men, there is a totally different feel and buzz to women’s networking events.
I have always admired Anita Roddick. I used to be involved with The Body Shop Direct, which I loved and really admired her authenticity, business acumen, courage and ethical stance.
A book I would highly recommend is ‘Business Networking’ by Heather Townsend, a must read for anyone that wants to get the most from their networking.
There are a couple of regular places I use for coffee or lunch with networking friends, but Doddington Hall just outside Lincoln is a favorite. Beautiful home cooked and produced food in a fabulous rural setting.
I am extremely proud of my course ‘How to say no without feeling guilty or changing your mind‘. It’s written for people pleasers to tackle their fears and start to protect themselves from the takers and manipulators in this world. It’s effective, but lighthearted – one comment I received was ‘Jane makes a lot of sense, and her writing style is very easy to understand. I also like her sense of humor. What could be better, learning and laughing. Thank you Jane.’.
Women and men do business differently: we are different animals. As women, we are brought up to believe it’s our job to care for others which can make it harder to stand up for ourselves. Yes, a sweeping generalization I know but true nonetheless. The more we help each other, collaborating instead of competing, using our vast and diverse skills, the more we all rise.