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Business burnout! You may not know you’re affected – until it’s too late! Commonly associated with the first stage of business growth and developmentCore Business Development, business burnout doesn’t happen overnight. It slowly creeps into your business after an extended duration of the passionate pursuit of your entrepreneurial dream. Left to smolder, it can extinguish your small business dream.

It’s not uncommon to work extended hours when you first launch your small business. Your passion and excitement for what’s to come removes all sense of time. Your eagerness wakes you before dawn and finds you working long past the time the family has gone to bed. Over time, the extended workday turns into extended workweeks and, before long, what fueled your start-up passion, has turned into a deadly habit that’s killing you and your business.

Am I being too dramatic? I think not! Researchers have found that burnout has reached epidemic proportions. The negative consequences of burnout are well-documented, included coronary artery disease, depression, and autoimmune illness (Plus, I’ve got a personal story about a health crisis caused by burnout. It wasn’t pretty.)

Things Are Heating Up

Burnout is quite insidious. It causes decision fatigue, erodes confidence, drains your energy, infects attitudes, amplifies cynicism, promotes inflexibility, and encourages procrastination. Before long, you’re unable to focus at the task at hand. You’re easily disrupted by email and distracted by the simplest of thing. You waste valuable time poking around on Facebook or daydreaming about working at Starbucks.

Stop the Burn

Fortunately, small business owners have control over their work hours and can implement these strategies easily and effortlessly to put a stop to business burnout.

1. Establish priorities based on goals. Rather than focus on your to-do list, the “squeaky wheel”, or the biggest fire, prioritize your day based on the actions needed to achieve your business goals. By being goal-oriented rather than time-oriented, you’ll eliminate unnecessary tasks and achieve much more.

2. Perform in 40/20 cycles. Pierre Khawand, author of “The Results Curve™: How to Manage Focused and Collaborate”, discovered after a decade of research that the best results are achieved after 40 minutes of focused work following by 20 minutes of collaboration.

3. Stop multitasking. Once the sought-after skill of the 80’s – 90’s, researchers are now finding that multitasking is not all that it’s cracked up to be. Although walking and chewing gum is still an acceptable form of multitasking (it’s automatic), responding to email while talking on the phone adds to inefficiency. Plus, its just plain embarrassing when you’re asked a question and you’re unable to respond appropriately because your attention is divided.

4. Delegate. Entrepreneurs are notorious for “doing it all”. Hand over suitable tasks to skilled employees or vendors that support your business objectives. It frees your vision and creativity.

5. Keep yourself healthy. You are the primary bread producer in your small business; therefore, your ability to stay healthy is crucial. Although many small business entrepreneurs don’t feel they have the time to exercise, studies show that entrepreneur who run or bike have higher sales than even those who strength train! And, to keep fueled with energy-producing foods, follow Back to her Roots solution, How I Prep Food for the Week. One more thing – don’t eat lunch at your desk! There’s nothing worse than having your keyboard stick on ccccccccccc because of crumbs.

6. Play more. Recess isn’t just for kids. Taking frequent breaks throughout the day refreshes your creativity and reboots your brain.

7. Take weekends off. Fatigue costs more than $136 billion per year in health-related lost productivity; 84% of those costs due to reduced performance at work. Is working on your day off really worth it?

8. Unplug from technology. When the clock strikes 5 pm – or whatever arbitrary time you have for closing down shop – turn off all your technology. Your body and mind needs time to renew after a day of decision-making. In our blog post, The High Cost of Indecision on Growing Your Business, we discuss the importance of rejuvenating your decision-making muscle.

Burnout is completely avoidable, especially with the advancements in technology. Used correctly, technology makes your workday more productive and efficient. You’re going to be in business for a long time. Make business burnout a thing of the past.

Ahhh, ‘tis the season….What is it about zombies and little princesses begging for candy at your doorstep that triggers the start of the real “spooky” season – THE HOLIDAYS! Entrepreneurs are stretched to capacity running a successful business and now it’s time to squeeze the additional activities joyfully ushered in by the holiday season. Wouldn’t it be nice to gift yourself a stress-less holiday?

Unconsciously, we journey into the holidays. There’s shopping for the family, friends, business clients and colleagues. If you’re miles from your family, there’s wrapping and mailing in time for Santa’s delivery. Traveling to see family or friends includes making travel arrangements, fighting long lines and crowded planes praying a storm doesn’t ground your flight somewhere in New Jersey. There is menu-planning, grocery shopping, cooking, and baking. Oh, let’s not forget the holiday parties and school plays to squeeze into your calendar. Did I mention the newsy holiday letter and cards needing to be mailed? Some entrepreneurs have an added pressure of year-end inventory and we ALL face planning for a more fruitful, successful new year. Is it any wonder that our strategic plans aren’t complete until mid March? What could possibly go wrong?

Other than stress killing you – literally – there’s plenty that goes hay wire this time of year. Partnerships go sideways. Fatigue leads to poor decisions. Burnout caused you to hide in your office closet to avoid work. Conflict rises up between the best of business colleagues. The day-to-day demands of growing a business easily exceed capacity. The obligations of the holidays – even when carried out to the tune of “White Christmas” – tip the scales. Even so, it doesn’t seem to stop us from repeating the same crazy schedule year after year.

Rather than wait for the festivities of the season to strike like a blast of arctic air, let’s make a pact to move toward this holiday season differently so our new year can be kicked off with renewed energy for all you intend.

Here are 8 tips to help you and your business get through the holiday season unscathed:

1. Be intentional – Set your objective and purpose for this holiday season (Being everything to everyone and meeting everyone’s expectations doesn’t count.)

2. Create your project and commitment list – Personal and professional projects need to be completed. Rather than trying to keep them all in your head, write them down. It helps sort them out and puts you in the driver’s seat.

3. Plan ahead – Equipped with your calendar, jot down you’re current commitments including business meetings with clients, networking events, personal parties, etc. Allow enough time (aka white space) to allow something to go amiss at the last minute.

4. Align expectations with capacity – Ask yourself what personal and professional projects need to be completed during the next 6 weeks? How much time does each project require? Once you have a sense of your commitments, schedule them in.

Getting the picture? You now have a much clearer view of what you (and others) can realistically expect.

5. Delegate – Yes! We can do it all but is it necessary for us to do everything? Review your project and commitment list to identify the tasks to be delegated. Nail down who’s responsible for what, by when, and what you need reported to you that gives you confidence in handing over tasks.

6. Get enough sleep – There’s nothing new here but it’s good to be reminded how much better you perform and cope with stress when you’re rested.  Don’t just ‘say’ you’ll get more sleep – plan for it!

7. Exercise – You’ve heard this one too but did you also know that entrepreneurs who run or bike actually have higher sales than those who don’t exercise? In other words, if you move it, you’ll make it! Again, time available for exercise doesn’t magically happen, you have to plan for it.

8. Say No – It’s our most used word as a toddler yet it seems to get lost with age. If you can’t say “Heck Yeah” to projects or parties, say no!

How about an early holiday gift for yourself – a little less stress to go with that egg nog, perhaps?

What are you doing to make the holidays less-stressful for yourself this year?

Related Blog Posts:

13 Tips to Make Time Work for You

Declutter Your Task List

Say Goodbye to Things That Bug You

The Entrepreneurs Naughty & Nice List for Business Growth

7 Tips for Entrepreneurs to Achieve Work/Life Balance

Core Business Assessment


Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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