It's no secret that entrepreneurs work extremely hard, sometimes to the point of burnout. As an entrepreneur, you're responsible for everything. Let's not forget that some entrepreneurs hustle 24/7 for years before they even begin to see the fruits of their labor, much less turn a profit. It can be downright exhausting.
So what do you do when one day you realize that you're experiencing burnout, you wish you weren't an entrepreneur, or that you want to take a step back?
Identify the pain points in your business.
When you're working nonstop to build a sustainable business, it's hard to be objective about your shortcomings and any pains that your business may be experiencing. But that doesn't mean they aren't there.
Are you working too hard on the wrong tasks? Do you need to outsource more? Are you limiting your business's growth? These are the types of questions you should be asking yourself so you can get to the root of your desire to take a step back.
Every entrepreneur has to overcome some type of adversity, whether due to economic downturns, personal relationship troubles, or new players in the market. Perhaps you're trying to bootstrap a business that needs more cash flow. Whatever the case may be, take the time to sit down, pinpoint the pains in your business, and decide what you're going to do from there.
Separate work and personal obligations.
Work-life balance doesn't truly exist either in the corporate world or in entrepreneurship. Don't buy into the hype of "work whenever and wherever you want." Don't go into entrepreneurship believing you'll hit it big or become wealthy after a few short years. It's not impossible, but for most entrepreneurs, the reality is years of hard work.
Look objectively at your day, your business and your personal life. Is there too much overlap between the biggest obligations? Are you thinking about work more than you should be? Are you allowing your personal life to affect where, when, and how long you work?
If too much overlap is an issue, you have to create some separation. You may not have to work 9-to-5, Monday through Friday, but keeping regular work hours is ideal. Knowing when you can shut work down and focus on other aspects of your life helps prevent the kind of overwhelm that leads to burnout and exhaustion. While you may never achieve perfect balance, maintaining some distance between your work and life can give you breathing room.
Go back to 9-to-5 employment to end burnout.
No matter how strong your motivations, working nonstop can lead to burnout. Some people just want more stability, and that can be hard to achieve as an entrepreneur, even if you've been in business for years. A stable income, full benefits, and regular hours are very appealing things.
If you've gotten to the point where entrepreneurship just isn't working, it's OK to return to a traditional job and workspace. Going back to regular employment and keeping regular hours doesn't mean you've failed as an entrepreneur. In fact, it could actually be beneficial to your future entrepreneurial dreams. You can give your body and mind a break from being captain of the ship right now, and return to the grind later.
Stop working by yourself all of the time.
Many entrepreneurs find that working by yourself regularly can cause loneliness and burnout. In my own experience with this, I realized it's OK to admit I miss an office space where you converse with friends and colleagues. Sometimes you just want more social interaction outside of client calls or dealing with customers.
Co-working spaces have become all the rage in the last few years, so consider working at one of those. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be more social without having to sacrifice your work quality or your other obligations.
Try being a part-time entrepreneur.
While the gig economy has grown, so has part-time entrepreneurship. Many people are working full-time but also pursuing their business passions on the side. These people are just as much an entrepreneur as those who do it full-time. They also get the perks of both a stable income and work they're passionate about.
If your business means that much to you, but you aren't sure if you could stick with it for the rest of your life, don't be embarrassed to get a traditional job.
Entrepreneurship can take a lot out of you. But there are ways to manage your dreams of being the boss without causing burnout in the process. No matter what you decide, the lessons that you've learned as an entrepreneur are invaluable. They'll stick with you for the rest of your life.