How to Avoid Burnout as an Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurship is an emotional roller coaster. You get funded; you’re climbing. You roll out a new product; you speed ahead so quickly you’re loop-de-looping. And at sometimes, you just get to coast.
Unlike a roller coaster though, business ventures don’t come to an abrupt end. They endure. They go through many different phases. And, as a startup founder or business owner, you endure and go through many different phases as well.
All of these ups and downs are part of the enjoyment of being an entrepreneur. Without taking the proper precautions, though, they also can create burnout. Don’t allow burnout to reduce your productivity, impact your business, and affect your well-being. In the following guide, we’ve outlined how you can avoid burnout as an entrepreneur.
Set SMART Goals
Burnout stems from a combination of decreased motivation, increased fatigue, and disappointment. As an entrepreneur, you can mitigate all three by setting more realistic goals for your business.
The best way to do this, according to Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s HR Performance Development, is to create SMART goals, which are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. SMART goals set organizations up for success by helping them create and reach reasonable goals. Here is how it works.
As you are figuring out a goal, start by determining what specifically needs to get accomplished. For example, you don’t want to just put up a company website. You want to put up a company website that drives a specific number of leads every month.
Next, decide how you will measure the goal. In the website example, the “measurable” aspect of your SMART goal is how your staff will track the number of leads your new website generates.
This stage introduces a healthy dose of reality. It’s the point in the goal-forming process during which you assess how realistic this goal is to achieve.
Consider the resources you have to allocate and the manpower at your disposal. Is it enough to get the website up and running on time? Solicit feedback from people within your organization. Because you’ll be delegating responsibilities to them in addition to their existing workload, it’s necessary to hear from them how realistic it is to finish their tasks.
In keeping with our example of a lead-driven website, review the number of leads you hope the site to get each month. Is that number on par with similar sites competitors operate? It’s important to settle on a number that makes sense for your business, your industry, and your market.
Double-check to make sure that the goal you’ve set—i.e., the amount of leads you want the website to generate—is relevant to your business performance goals.
For example, examine actionable data that outlines how often website leads directly convert to increased sales. If the data reveals a low percentage of sales conversion from online leads, then your monthly goal of a specific number of leads may not be relevant. In that case, you may need to create a more relevant goal, such as a specific number of sales generated from website leads, and track that instead.
Entrepreneurs notoriously push hard to reach their goals. This driven nature is part of what makes them successful. It’s also what makes them burn out. As you are setting a goal for your business, be cautious about the timeline.
For example, launching a new product may require several months. Instead of pulling all-nighters to get everything done in a condensed schedule, create a more relaxed, extended timeline for the project. A realistic deadline will reduce stress and help to prevent overworking.
Take Time Off and Be Diligent About Self-Care
When you get busy, self-care activities are the first things to go. You want to make more time for business. So, you remove what you consider to be selfish pursuits and refocus your attention on your work. Unfortunately, this becomes counterproductive. Self-care and rest keep your stress at bay, lend you much-needed perspective, and maintain your stamina.
Many entrepreneurs are painfully overworked, which is not sustainable. Instead of responding to your employees and clients at all hours every day, stop checking email at the same time every day. Schedule email responses to arrive during business hours only. This is a major form of boundary setting every business operator must learn. Without it, your clients and staff will get unrealistic expectations that you will respond to them immediately regardless of the day and time.
At some point every day, pull yourself away from your work, turn off your computer, and put your phone on airplane mode. Removing yourself will calibrate your mood and mentally reset you.
Remember to take time off during the week and to take vacation time during the year. Make time for meditation, regular exercise, Sleep, breaks, family, alone time, and social interaction. Time off decreases stress and rejuvenates you.
Build a Support Network of Other Entrepreneurs
During difficult times, the path of an entrepreneur can feel lonely. It doesn’t have to be. There are thousands of startups throughout the United States, and many of their founders connect through LinkedIn, industry events, and social groups such as MeetUp.
Use these outlets to build a network of like-minded entrepreneurs. Meet them for lunch, call them to vent, contribute advice when other entrepreneurs need it. Your support network will help you get through high-stress times and give you people with whom you can celebrate your successes.
Know When to Outsource
Don’t add hours of web development and digital marketing to your weekly schedule. Secure a custom domain name and affordable web hosting. There are many economical web hosting plans that feature easy-to-use drag-and-drop web design tools, free online stores with PayPal integration, 24/7 customer support, and customizable business email addresses. These user-friendly platforms allow you and your staff to make website adjustments in just a few minutes.
You also have the option to outsource your online marketing entirely. Hire a reputable marketing team to optimize your site with pay-per-click advertising, search engine optimization, and mobile-friendly designs.
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