Anyone who tells you that starting a business is easy is trying to sell you something. Remember all those glib platitudes about it taking hard work and determination? The failure rate for small businesses is high for a reason: Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart.
No one talks about the daily challenges and frustrations: prospects who can’t make up their minds, suppliers who leave you in the lurch by not delivering what they promised, customers who want everything done right now (except for paying that pesky invoice of yours on time).
Never mind the stress of dealing with the day-to-day operations of a small business with an org chart of one—the sheer willpower it takes to transform mere ideas into reality is often enough to push entrepreneurs to their absolute limit. Easy would not be the word I'd use to describe it.
It happens to every solopreneur at one time or another. Suddenly, the freedom and flexibility of having the ultimate control of your destiny gives over to jealousy for your corporate friends with cushy 9-to-5 jobs where all they have to do to pay the mortgage is show up—or at least that's how you see it, when you're completely burnt out.
The trouble with entrepreneurial burnout is you don’t know it is coming until it’s too late. One day everything is fine; the next, even the most mundane tasks become a huge weight and the creative spark that drove you in the early days has fizzled to a dull flame.
Here are five tips to help you avoid entrepreneurial burnout.
1. Turn off your hot buttons. Figure out what triggers your biggest frustrations and put a stop to them before that minor irritation turns into a major motivational drain. For example, if cash flow crunches stress you out, put measures in place to ensure outstanding client invoices don’t become a problem.
2. Get reliable help. Surround yourself with amazing people. Yes, amazing costs more than ordinary, but then again, what you're asking for is beyond the ordinary. Add people to your roster you can outsource entire projects to who won't need a lot of supervision.
3. Pay attention to the early warning signs. Watch for the early warning signs that motivational fatigue is setting in: paralysis due to task overwhelm, forgotten or missed deadlines, chronic indecision and growing frustration or depression. (See #1 and start turning off those hot buttons fast!)
4. Connect with other business owners. Find a local or online entrepreneurial group where you can share (openly without fear of judgment) the truth about your daily frustrations. Trust me, your spouse and your employees don’t want to hear it.
5. Take regular tech blackouts. Turn off the tech at regular intervals—at night, on weekends and especially for your family vacation. With the rise in social media, we're all suffering from connectivity overload. Do yourself a favor and turn it off.
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