When it comes to starting your own business, what is the most valuable resource available to you? Money? Technology? Well-trained employees? Eager investors?
Nope – it’s yourself.
It’s dangerously easy to get lost in the role of “entrepreneur”. You convince yourself that the best use of your number one resource – that is, you – is to be constantly working and thinking about your business. You put in 60, 80, or even 100-hour weeks. You discuss work at the dinner table, crunch numbers in the shower and take calls in bed.
And then you burn out.
“Founder burnout” is the colloquial term for extreme mental, physical and emotional stress experienced as a result of burying yourself in work. It can be difficult to identify and, once acknowledged, may seem impossible to combat.
Luckily, that’s not the case. Through focused thinking, deliberate decision-making, and acknowledgement of your own needs, you can skip the burnout while still succeeding in your entrepreneurial endeavours!
Take “You” Time
First, identify the areas in which work-home boundaries have become fuzzy, and then clearly re-establish them. Take time daily to disconnect, put your work down and do things which you find personally enriching. For example: practice a sport, cook, learn a language, or snuggle up with a good book!
At first, this can seem frustrating, and you may experience a sense of “losing” time. However, it has been found that one hour per day spent exercising, meditating, or pursuing a favourite hobby can equal multiple hours of clear-headed productivity when you get back to work. Don’t think of it as “wasting time,” think of it as “investing in yourself”.
Starting and running a business can feel pretty darn lonely. Your employees come to you, but who do you turn to when stress builds up? Cultivate and maintain an active, caring support network. This can mean family members, close friends, therapists, professional mentors – as long as you choose people who have your best interests at heart.
When you find yourself facing obstacles, don’t be afraid to ask your support network for help. Conversely, don’t forget to share your joy with them when you reach milestones or experience successes. Whether it’s comfort or celebration, your chosen group will always have what you need!
Take a Long-Term View
The two tips above help you keep calm outside of the workplace, but what about once you’re in the office? Work can be a hotbed of stressors as you manage your business’ day-to-day tasks.
Keep the overwhelming feelings at bay by adopting a long-term focused thought pattern. Each problem can seem like a mountain – so look towards the future to turn those mountains back into molehills. Remember that daily ups and downs do not erase long-term progress. Chart your business’s success over time and mark goals and milestones so you don’t lose sight of what’s ahead.
Take a Break!
Lastly, remember that working 24/7/365 will only bring on burnout faster. Give yourself vacation days – and use them! Whether it’s a short “staycation” at home or a few weeks at a favourite destination, take time away from your business. You’ll soon find that “absence makes the heart grow fonder” really does hold true, and will return to work refreshed and ready to tackle anything.
Never forget that you are more than your work, more than your business – even more than your ideas. Take some time, focus on yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. With a healthy outlook, balanced schedule and strong support network, you’ll cruise through the difficult early days of start-up management absolutely burnout-free!