If you’re feeling discouraged, you’re not alone. I definitely feel discouraged from time to time. I’ve been in business for more than a decade, and I’ve learned that being an entrepreneur can take a toll on you. As an entrepreneur, you’ll go through ups and downs — a roller coaster of emotions, successes and failures. Sometimes you’ll feel empowered, other times you’ll think it’s all been a waste.
Whether it’s a financial rut, cash flow issues or staff issues, we’re all impacted by our businesses. Entrepreneur burnout is real — and dangerous. A serious burnout can be detrimental to your entire business.
Knowing how to spot the signs of burnout is key to stopping yourself before it’s too late. Here are six signs of burnout to help you nip them in the bud before they do too much damage.
1. You’re exhausted all the time.
We all feel exhausted from time to time. Maybe it was a late night prepping for a board meeting or insomnia from a change in the business. Being exhausted once in a while is normal. But being exhausted all the time is not. If you’re constantly exhausted, it’s a sign that the business has become overwhelming and is taking a toll on you physically.
Whenever I feel my energy plummeting, I know it’s time to take a break, even if that just means watching a movie. The simple act of not thinking about work is re-energizing.
2. You’re easily overwhelmed.
Everyone freaks out occasionally. But if last week’s broken coffee maker made you upset, you need to start taking it easy. When little things overwhelm you and impact your mood, it’s a sign that you’re under high stress.
While I try to stay collected, there are times when it feels like everything is just coming at me. Having a small business, this often means lots of issues you are tasked to resolve: sales issues, cash flow issues, employee issues, IT issues, etc. More than once, I’ve had days where I don’t think I can take on another issue, no matter how small or trivial. When I feel like I can’t answer politely, I know it’s time to take a break.
3. You find yourself working around the clock.
While you might think this is normal, any sane person will tell you it’s unhealthy. If you find yourself working long hours at the office, coming home to work and spending your weekends working, you are on a path to burnout. Prevent yourself from burning out by putting up boundaries and setting limits.
During the early years of my company, I found myself working constantly. I would wake up to calls or to schedule meetings. I’d spend 12-plus-hour days at the office, then come home and do more work. But it wasn’t sustainable.
4. You have trouble focusing.
If you find it difficult to focus on your work, whether it’s avoidance or you just can’t stare at your screen long enough to write an email, it’s a sign that you’ve overdosed on work. Not only is focus necessary to get things done, it’s important for entrepreneurs who need to make things happen. A lack of focus and vision can send everything crumbling down.
With so many things coming your way, it’s often hard to focus. Whenever I feel like I’m unable to focus, I take a time out and either leave the office or work from home. The simple change in surroundings helps to refocus the mind.
5. You avoid going to work.
If making it to the office is becoming more and more difficult, it might be a sign that you’re experiencing burnout. If you’d rather do errands, stay home or sleep in, it’s time to take a day to clear your mind. Remember that getting your sanity back is worth more than missing a day or two of work.
Fortunately, I love what I do and I enjoy working both in the business and on the business. That said, sometimes it’s difficult to face your staff if things aren’t going as well as you’d hoped. Think of the positives and existing achievements to get you through this rut.
6. You forgot why you’re in business.
If you’re asking yourself how you got into this whole mess, it’s probably not a good sign. The daily stress of running a business, especially a nascent one, can take a toll on even the best entrepreneur. If you’ve lost your fire, it’s definitely a sign that you’re experiencing burnout.
At times, I’ve questioned what exactly we’re in the business to do. However, I always think back to how we started as a company and that helps me refocus and regain control. A business can often grow arms and legs, making it hard to contain and manage. Sometimes you’ll find that thinking back to how it all got started helps to refuel that initial fire. I know it works for me.
Take a breather and listen
We all have the right to get stressed out. But for entrepreneurs, burnout can mean the downfall of the entire organization. Learn to spot the signs to help you avoid a burnout that you can’t fix.
As well, surround yourself with people who are supportive of both the business and you personally. Family and friends are your biggest supporters. Listen to them when they tell you to take a break; they’re probably right. If you’re not listening to your own body, you should at least listen to your family.
Although it may seem impossible to fix burnout, remember that a little break or a change can make all the difference. Take a few days off and focus on yourself, or go on a weekend vacation. Whatever you decide to do, know that you’ll be refreshed and ready to tackle everything when you come back.