Burnout is a physical, emotional, or mental state of constant exhaustion. According to forbes.com, up to 77% of US adults have dealt with burnout at one point or another. This statistic means 3 out of 4 of you have experienced burnout. Burnout manifests itself differently for all. Some are consistently agitated, others are always tired, while others may feel like they are always out of time. It is worth taking preventative measures to avoid burnout, especially as entrepreneurs. The following three philosophies have helped me tremendously during my journey as a business owner.
Define your enough poinT
Goals are essential when running a business. It gives you something to strive for while creating a benchmark to measure your business growth. You are a self-starter, a go-getter, and a dream chaser. I know this because you made a business from scratch. But unfortunately, your strengths can also be your weakness, as your passion for growing your business may become your idol.
You set a monthly goal. Hit that goal. Then, you move the finish line just a little further that month. Grind harder. Hit the new goal. Repeat. The month ends, and you are excited for all of a half-day. Then, before you know it, you are already plotting how to beat that new record this next month. It never is good enough.
Is grinding in business bad? Not per se. You will have seasons that require more attention than others but grinding 24/7 is not sustainable. If you want to be in business for years to come, don't forget the story of the tortoise and the hare.
Enter your enough point.
Your enough point accounts for what you need to break even, make ends meet, and stay in business. What goes into your enough point varies from person to person. Below are some ideas to factor into your enough point:
- Website fees
- Business rent
- Business savings
- Personal living expenses/bills
If you hit your enough point, you will keep the roof of your head, business running and will not need to consider closing. Once you hit this number, you don't technically HAVE to work for the rest of the month (outside of fulfilling your current orders) or chase more sales. You can find the balance to take your kids to the park without the pressure of selling another item to keep the lights on. Get lost in a book at the park after feeding the ducks. The rest of the month hits different knowing you did it.
Depending on the month, your mental space, family needs, and other commitments, you may decide you can continue to the next level by working towards your monthly goal. By doing so, you will be getting ahead and start on next month's enough point. What if you could pre-pay your bills for the rest of the year? What if you could build an emergency fund with 3-6 months' expenses for the first time?
Defining your enough point and goal is crucial. They are not the same. I believe many get burnt out chasing their goals without pausing to realize they have hit their enough point. Your enough point is worth celebrating!
Nothing is an emergency
Unless you run a shirt business with medical healing properties in the tee that, after pressing, can restore health if made in 3 hours... nothing in your business is an emergency. This may come as a shock because your customers have made you feel like if you don't get back to them asap, it is life or death.
It isn't girl.
- Code on your website stopped working? Extend the sale.
- Customers can't log into their accounts? Troubleshooting steps linked in your FAQs.
- Hole in the customer's shirt? Reference the defect policy on your website.
- Can't find your address for pick-up? Review the "your order is ready for pick-up" email that was sent, including the address.
By taking the time to create redundancies in your business, you permit yourself to be offline, guilt-free! I have found that often times customers find the answer to their question within a few hours if I don’t respond right away since it is outside of my business hours. What is the point of business hours if I treat my business like I am on call? I built my business to be independent, not to be glued to my device 24/7. If I don't respect my business hours, why should my customers?
What about if my customer feels it is an emergency for them? It still isn't your emergency. "Your failure to plan does not constitute an emergency for me." Period. Positioning yourself as your customers’ personal assistant WILL lead to burnout over time.
Protect your peace
As you have gotten older, you have learned that some things aren't worth your energy. Therefore, your silence and removal from certain situations will serve you better than trying to fit in. Do not force yourself to shrink your thoughts, passions, or desires to fit at specific tables that do not serve you, your business, or who you are becoming.
You are responsible for the things you can control. Release the things you can't control. You have permission to enforce your boundaries. You have permission to fire customers. You have permission to stop running in circles that don't bring you good vibes.
Think back to a season where you found yourself constantly chasing. Think about how good it felt to let go of the person, job, bad habit, or thought. You can't put a price on the peace you found as a result. Reevaluate both your personal and business life today. Are you protecting your peace? You don't need to apologize for protecting your peace.
So what if I am already burnt out?
That all sounds great... If I had done all of that like six months ago. But I don't feel like continuing. I don't fit in. I feel blah. I will never be successful. So what now?
IDENTIFY THE CAUSE.
First things first, identify what is causing your feelings. Is it a product you get no joy out of making? Is it a customer that makes you cringe every time they message you? Is it your spouse not respecting your business efforts? Is it working a 9-5, coming home to feed the kids, clean the house, then trying to run your side hustle?
Get quiet. Get your notebook and journal. Allow yourself to feel. Burnout may be your current season, but it is not permanent. Truly a major step in reversing burnout is to identify the cause.
REVISIT YOUR GOALS.
Once you have identified what is causing you to experience burnout, revisit if this action directly contributes to meeting your goals. Can you replace customs with a tee of the month? Can you start enforcing your business hours for the customer who always messages? Can you compromise on your business hours to balance time with your spouse?
There may be a good chance what is causing those feelings doesn't even serve your goals. If that is the case, make a plan to eliminate it.
DO SOMETHING FOR YOU.
When was the last time you took time for yourself? What do you like to do outside of your newfound identity as a business owner and/or mom, or wife? If money is tight, think of something you would want to do for yourself every month. Is it a $40 pedicure? Build $40 back into your enough point. I want this in your enough point rather than your goal, because taking care of you is a sustainment cost.
Without (INSERT YOUR NAME), (INSERT BUSINESS NAME) doesn't exist. If you aren’t good, your business can’t be good.
American culture has a way of making us feel like we aren't enough. We need to do just a little more. As business owners, we can't fall into that trap. Burnout isn't cute and isn't a requirement to be successful.