The risks and consequences of burnout are serious for entrepreneurs, putting your physical and mental health at great risk. Burnout also jeopardizes your relationships, the future of your business, and your cognitive skills and abilities.
Research shows that excessive stress limits the effectiveness of the prefrontal cortex. This is the part of your brain that regulates just about every brain function necessary to manage and grow your business successfully. Burnout affects and limits your memory, decision-making abilities, emotional control, and your capacity to focus and concentrate.
What are some of the signs of burnout?
- physical and emotional exhaustion
- emotional swings, bursts of anger, or lashing out
- cynicism and detachment
- poor concentration and forgetfulness
- feelings of ineffectiveness
- lack of accomplishment
- loss of appetite
- increased illness and unusual or increased physical symptoms
- depression and/or anxiety
If any of these symptoms begin to show up in your life, it's time to take a closer look at your reality. You can get ahead of burnout by adjusting the way you view things and taking action on things you may believe you don't have control over.
What solutions might you be ignoring, or refusing to see?
Oftentimes, entrepreneurs entertain a long list of issues that contribute to their stress. Accompanying this list is an inability or refusal to see solutions and accept that they have more control than they believe they do. The effort involved in creating change seems overwhelming, even impossible. Therefore, these particular entrepreneurs continue to reject solutions--until one day a light bulb moment occurs and suddenly it's not so overwhelming.
It may be time to challenge some of your beliefs. Things like: your employees are over-taxed and can't take on more work, or clients don't follow instructions thereby making your job more difficult. Any of your beliefs that cause stress and extra work should be closely evaluated. There is at least one solution to every problem. Typically, the issue is not the list of problems--it's the way the entrepreneur thinks about them, and that can be changed.
Is there something about your business model that needs to change?
Business owners commonly hold on to parts of their model that once worked but are no longer effective. Pricing is one of them. The rates that worked for you when you were starting out no longer apply because they attract the wrong clients, nor can these fees support your household.
Step back and look at your model, systems, and processes. What no longer functions well at this stage of growth? Evaluate everything, including your confidence level. If you are afraid to change something, it's likely that you are standing in your own way.
How clear are your goals and strategies?
When an entrepreneur is stuck and overwhelmed they usually lack clarity. Confusion and uncertainty lead to burnout since your efforts are ineffective and you're not sure about what to do next. Overly complicated plans don't usually make sense either. If you're working too hard and not achieving your goals, go back to the basics. These are just a few of the questions to ask yourself. Begin here and keep going.
- Do you have a clearly defined niche, or are you trying to please everyone?
- Specifically, where do you want your company to be in one, two, and three years?
- What is your strategic growth plan and how will you finance it?
Do you get lost in the minutia?
Burned out entrepreneurs tend to turn to what they know instead of working on the big picture. You may find yourself doing menial tasks since they don't tax you as much working on the big picture. This is when the excuses pile up and you end up fighting a losing battle.
Change may seem overwhelming but suffering through a difficult reality is far worse. You can get ahead of burnout if you see the warning signs and open your mind to change. If you're not happy it's time to step back and evaluate--everything.