How Small Business Owners Can Avoid Burnout
Almost all small business owners have experienced burnout and understand that too much stress and work can have a serious impact on their quality of life. It may seem like burnout only costs you in mental well-being, but it costs you in dollars too. The American Institute of Stress estimates that burnout costs the United States economy $300 billion every year. Those costs stem from lower productivity, accidents, sick leave, turnover, medical costs, and more. Chances are, some of those costs are affecting your business.
So, how do you avoid burnout or get some relief if you experience it? The answers are not always what small business owners want to hear. If you worked a conventional job, taking a vacation or handing over some of your tasks to other people would be simpler. That’s true, but don’t give up. There are ways to make typical burnout cures work for you. There are even some methods of fighting burnout that only small business owners can try, as they involve making bigger changes to your company than a typical employee could make.
When you started your business, you probably had to wear all of the hats. You were your own receptionist, web developer, salesperson, and much more. Once you have staff, it can be hard to let go of some of these tasks, especially the ones you think are most important. As a result, you might work much longer hours than you need to. Or you may spend too much time micro-managing your staff. Both contribute to burnout.
When you can, you should delegate tasks to staff members you trust. If you struggle with delegating, try these strategies:
- Delegate the things you are worst at, or that you find most boring. As you don’t like these tasks, you’ll avoid getting involved once they are off your plate.
- Set specific times to check-in with employees. This can prevent you from checking in too regularly and wasting your time or undermining your employees’ confidence.
- Hire people you can trust who have high initiative. When you feel like your staff member is skilled and capable of handling surprises, it is easier to step away.
2. Save Your Time
What about for small business owners who don’t have anyone to delegate to? You may be surprised to find that you can save time even if you don’t have staff! Here’s how:
- Phone Answering Service: When you have a phone answering service, you don’t need to be tied to your phone or even make most of your calls. Your virtual receptionist can update clients, schedule your work, and perform other calls. Plus, as the virtual receptionist is not your employee, he or she won’t add extra stress to your plate.
- Better Accounting Software: Most people who start their own business do not have a degree in accounting, so handling their books can be overwhelming. Modern, sophisticated accounting software can make the job much simpler.
3. Take a Vacation
Most small business owners don’t take regular vacations. In fact, a recent survey found that 40% of small business owners and entrepreneurs took little or no vacation in 2019. You may even be upset if your friends or family suggest you take a vacation. You may feel a deep sense that everything will fall apart if you walk away. You don’t want to lose everything you worked so hard for.
But, have you considered that taking a real break can boost your productivity at work? According to Forbes, countries with longer average vacations have more productive employees. The same principle applies to you in your own life. When you’re more rested, you do better work.
Take a vacation, even if it’s a small one at first. Also, when you’re on vacation, be on vacation instead of surveying your phone or email. You can limit how often you check up on work. Here are some suggestions:
- Be unavailable for contact: If you may have to respond to an emergency, have a trusted staff member or an answering service screen emails and calls for emergencies. That way, you don’t have to deal with it unless it is pressing.
- Have someone watch the business: If you’re on your own, hire a freelancer or a temporary employee to do the tasks that absolutely must be done when you’re gone. This person may be an investment, but the peace you feel will be worth it.
4. Get More Certainty
Small businesses can be very uncertain. What if you experience a lull in sales or payments? What if the cost of your supplies or tools goes up? What if new regulations or new competitors affect your business? There’s a lot of uncertainties to worry about, and that worrying will take a toll on your mental health and contribute to burn out. Here are a few ways to make your small business more certain and stable so that you can reduce your stress:
- Invoice Factoring: An invoice factoring company will pay you your invoices upfront and collect from your customers later. This gives you the certainty that your invoices will be paid right away. The only drawback is that you have to pay these companies a fee.
- Maintenance Packages: Wouldn’t it be nice if your customers paid you reliably every month? Offering a maintenance package is a common way to achieve this stability as a contractor. Other businesses may be able to offer some subscription services to get stable monthly payments.
- Competitor Analysis: Chances are, your competitive landscape has changed since you opened your business. It’s wise to check in with where you stand every few years. That way, you can avoid some surprises. Don’t add it to your to-do list, pay a professional to analyze your competitors for you.
5. Keep Your Perspective
There’s a reason you’re a small business owner. It may be because you had an amazing idea that you had to share with the world. Maybe you worked for a company and knew you could do it better. Or, maybe the independence and flexibility you have are what motivate you. Whatever your motivator is, keep it in mind during your roughest patches. Write it out, take a day a month to meditate on it, or think about it first things when you wake up. Whatever works to keep you motivated and focused.