The demands of starting your own business can be exciting, making new business owners want to be as hands-on as possible. However, overworking yourself can eventually lead to burnout, and will not help in getting a business off the ground. We asked experts to share with aspiring entrepreneurs their tried-and-tested ways to avoid burnout.
Here are 25 expert tips on how to avoid burnout for small business owners:
1. Upgrade Your Morning Routine
Lidiya Kesarovska, Blogger & Owner, Let’s Reach Success
Your morning defines how your whole day goes. If your new priority is to avoid burnout, then make your morning routine a relaxing one. Wake up slowly and do things you enjoy to destress and be ready to win the day after that. Include morning habits such as meditation, journaling, reading a book, and planning your day, and you’ll be productive for the rest of the day without being overwhelmed.
2. Make a List of Your Priorities
Ian Heslip, Inbound Marketing Specialist, Dominion Systems
Having a balance between your personal life and your job helps avoid work-related burnout. Write a list of everything you want to accomplish into personal and professional lists. After you have your lists, put them in order from easiest to hardest to accomplish. Once you have done that, break them down into what month, week, and day you want to accomplish them. This will help you manage your time better and help you accomplish every task.
3. Reward Yourself at Milestones
Russell Meiselman, President & Co-founder, Clark Outsourcing
Most business owners set small, medium, and big milestones or goals, which is essential to growth. Try setting a reward to each of those milestones and goals and align the reward to the achievement size and success. If you really want to be a rock star, determine the monetary value of each of those milestones and reward yourself according to that. This practice will keep your mind, body, and spirit healthy to keep pushing through the sacrifice while achieving success. Another benefit is it will start conditioning your subconscious that achieving milestones equals rewards. After all, we are all human.
4. Make Exercise a Bigger Priority
Peter Oehler, Chief Operating Officer, Zenkit
Being a small business owner can get stressful, and an ideal remedy for stress is exercise. Engaging in regular physical activity not only has obvious physical benefits, but it also has mental perks too. It can improve your focus, increase energy levels, and works as a great mood alleviator. Exercise can be anything from a gym workout, to a yoga class, to even a walk around the block at break time. As long as you keep your body moving and make it a regular habit, it’s a good way to ensure you’re taking care of yourself.
5. Automate Your Project Management Tasks
Maggie Aland, Marketing & Review Editor, Fit Small Business
As a small business owner, getting more projects can mean that your businesses is starting to pick up. However, this also calls for balancing multiple tasks, which can easily lead to stress and burnout when not handled right.
To avoid this, consider using automation tools to help you adapt smoothly to the changing workflow. Monday.com is a highly customizable project management software that effectively simplifies team tasks. It offers features like templates, custom tags, email integration, and cloud storage to help teams manage even the largest projects by customizing data as projects grow and develop. Click for a free trial.
6. Separate Your Personal Life From Your Business
Daniel Pereira, CEO, LUZ
It is quite common to run into an entrepreneur, ask how he’s doing, and get a reply like: “I’m doing fine, we are doing very well at the company.” Or you get: “I’ve been better, we are having a hard time in the company.” So, in the end, the entrepreneur doesn’t answer how he is doing, but how his business is doing, showing how mixed both entities are.
Remember that you have a family, you have hobbies, and you like to do stuff that’s not business-related. You need to make time for that and keep it well too. So if someone asks how you are, you’ll be able to answer how your life is and not how your business is.
7. Get Organized With Your Outreach
John Greene, VP of Sales, PhoneBurner
For most small businesses, outreach is a time-consuming endeavor. But it’s critical to establishing and maintaining the relationships that drive revenue. To avoid burnout and be efficient and effective with your outreach, get organized. A good CRM will keep contacts properly segmented for more targeted campaigns, and maintain contact history so opportunities don’t fall through the cracks. A power dialer can help you get through calls three to four times faster, and handle time-consuming processes like leaving voicemails, sending emails, and logging calls. You spend less time on tasks, and more time talking to live contacts.
8. List Your Daily Tasks Based on Priority
Tomas Milar, CEO, IncParadise
Start your day by listing your tasks based on priorities, and always try to do higher-priority tasks in the morning. It is a true factor that most successful entrepreneurs set their first hours of the morning to do the most important tasks. And never go for multitasking. Complete each task one at a time, which will help you to get a more productive and profitable result.
9. Set a Hard Stop
Garrett Mehrguth, CEO & Co-founder, Directive
This is my number one tip to avoid burnout. Find out the exact time each day you do not want to be working after, set aside one hour during your working day, and mark busy in your calendar. That’s your time outside of your business. This is your time to dive into your biggest priorities and find ways to move the needle. You can get into deeper tasks and get in your zone. This is also a great time to think through the moments of your previous day.
10. Stay on Top of Employee Scheduling
Marc Prosser, Co-founder, Fit Small Business
When your small business requires managing a number of employees, manual scheduling can become a tedious and repetitive task. This not only keeps you from using your time to build your client base, it also creates a stressful environment arising from scheduling errors. Homebase is an easy-to-use scheduling software with a drag-and-drop features, letting you build a schedule in minutes. You can even access your account from any browser or mobile so you’re able to update staff schedule while on-the-go. Get a free trial today.
11. Practice Daily Meditation
Jon Zacharias, Marketing Manager, Seek Capital
If you run and meditate every morning before work, it is truly a game changer. Together, the two work as the ultimate natural work-hack. You can not only work longer hours, but you can also stay more alert and focused during the hours that you are working. Just look at someone like Jack Dorsey (who runs two massive companies: Twitter and Square). He runs and meditates every morning.
12. Recognize the Signs & Take a Break
Tony Shannon, President, RiseFuel
Often, workplace burnout occurs after days or weeks of the impending feeling that we are pushing ourselves too far. Knowing how to recognize the signs of burnout before it truly takes hold can help us to take steps to avoid it completely. When you know that you are about to have a complete breakdown in productivity, you can take a mental health day, prioritize projects that are less stressful, and plan to do things with family and friends to take your mind off work. We can’t avoid burnout unless we learn to recognize when it is coming.
13. Outsource Your Phone Calls
Nathan Strum, CEO, Abby Connect Receptionists
You can provide excellent customer service without jeopardizing your business focus or creating additional staffing hurdles to growing your company. By outsourcing your calls to a phone answering service, your business hours can be increased, your in-house staff can focus on their tasks, and you can invest more in your product or service.
14. Know Your Limits
Becca Muir, Founder & Managing Director, Ad Tech Unicorn PR
Don’t fall into the habit of thinking you can make time for things. No one can make time. There are 24 hours in a day – never more, never less. What you are, in fact, doing every day is allocating tasks and activities to those 24 hours. Switching from thinking you are making time to allocating time automatically improves a person’s time management because it forces you to look at not just the things you have to do, but also the time you need to complete your to-do-list.
15. Automate Your HR Tasks
Gavin Graham, Editor, Fit Small Business
Hiring and retaining the right employees is important to a new business. But as your business grows, so does the number of your employees, which can then make manual HR both time-consuming and stressful. TriNet is a cloud-based professional employment organization (PEO) solution providing full-service HR support for small and medium-sized businesses. It automates important HR tasks such as payroll and health benefits access so you have more time for client-facing activities. Click to visit TriNet’s website.
16. Schedule Vacation Time
Elizabeth Bradshaw, Owner, Canvas Art
The best way to avoid burnout is to schedule vacation time. Not a working vacation, but one where you check your emails twice a day, tops (to watch out for emergencies). What I like to do is complete a training and instructions document of sorts for whatever temporary employee I hire for my vacation coverage. This document includes things such as logins, daily to-do tasks, common customer questions with their answers, and other protocols. That way, when someone takes over, I don’t have to spend hours training them, and I can actually relax on my vacation, which will recharge my batteries and avoid burnout.
17. Connect With Complementary Business Owners Outside of Work
Kara Stachel, Esq., Owner, Stachel Law Planning, PLLC
Small business owners can avoid burnout by maintaining outside hobbies that build relationships with people who complement their business. For example, if you sell makeup, join a gym or studio that caters to women, such as a bar or women-only gym. The women who frequent these facilities are likely women who take care of themselves and wear makeup when not working out (or maybe when they are).
If you are a dentist or physician, try to find a gym near a medical facility where you are likely to find groups of similar professionals, which will allow you to network while sharing similar tips as to what has worked for your practice and what does not. Also, you can cultivate referral relationships, so it is a win-win.
18. Focus on Yourself Instead of the Competition
Angela Connor, Founder & CEO, Change Agent Communications
Look ahead in your own lane. If you are constantly looking to your left and right, you focus on the race of your competitors, and that takes you off your game. Set your own goals, and strive to meet and exceed them. Too much focus on others is a recipe for stress and disaster. You cannot succeed in a world where all you do is compare yourself to others. Look inward and stay sane. Post your goal on your bathroom mirror and make it visible. That way, you focus on yourself and your business as opposed to fixating on others.
19. Learn Something New
Chloe Brittain, Owner, Opal Transcription Calgary
My best tip for avoiding burnout is to get a mental change of scenery. For me, this means taking an online course in something that inspires me (or even something that just sort of interests me). Even if I don’t pursue the subject further, I find that exposing myself to something completely new refreshes and energizes my creative thinking. Nowadays, there are tons of online course marketplaces where you can learn just about anything, from writing a song to building a robot. A couple of my favorites are Udemy and LinkedIn Learning.
20. Delegate More
Matthew Ross, Co-owner & COO, The Slumber Yard
In order to avoid burnout, business owners need to learn how to delegate more and trust their employees to make the right decisions. In my opinion, this was a big reason why I constantly felt stressed and tired. I felt like I needed to make every decision, be on every phone call, and have a hand in every project. As you might imagine, this was not a sustainable course of action and not a business model that we could scale. After a while it became clear: I had to give up some responsibilities for my own health.
21. Always Have a Plan
Natalie MacLees, Founder & Principal, Purple Pen Productions
Having a plan keeps me focused on the things that are important and forces me to prioritize new things that come in. Is that new email from a client really more important than the other things I was planning to do today? If it is, then I adjust my plan and deal with it immediately. But if it’s not, then I let it go until tomorrow and stay focused on what I had planned for today. Having longer-term plans for weeks, months, and years keeps me on track toward my goals without getting sidetracked by daily busy work and distractions that won’t get me to where I want to go.
22. Focus on Your Skills
Taylor Mack, Social Media & Marketing Strategist, Small Biz Refined
Avoid shiny object syndrome. As business owners, it’s so easy to get distracted by all the social media platforms and marketing strategies out there. But trying to master them all will just overwhelm you. Choose a few strategies that play to your strengths, and double down on those. You’ll get more out of your efforts (without wanting to tear your hair out).
23. Plan Projects Well From the Start
Drew Lyon, Founder & Managing Partner, Focused Energy
Understanding what you and your team are getting into is paramount to ensuring that you will not create a situation that leads to burnout. It’s important to foster an environment that encourages everyone on the team to collaborate on the execution plan.
The first step in planning a project well is encouraging active participation from all people involved. This ensures that you can proactively address issues and concerns before they become problems. It also helps individuals to give input, feel heard, and buy into the work that they will be doing. Doing this will ensure that no one is having to put in 18-hour days to finish a project because of a lack of preparation.
24. Work Remotely
Diane Elizabeth, Founder & CEO, Skin Care Ox
Break the routine. I love being home as much as the next person, but with communication tools like Slack, Facetime, obviously email, and others, there is no reason you can’t take a few days to work from a new place in the world. Break your routine and hop to a new time zone and a new desk. Maybe you’re working from a hotel, but it’s still a new place, new scene, and new life. To put this plan into action, find a few days during which you can work remotely. Then get the tools you need. Slack, Dropbox, Google Sheets – you name it. The tools will allow you to communicate with your team while working in a different office or even a different country.
25. Take on a Fun Project
Giovanni Barile, Owner & CEO, Giant Partners
Many of our responsibilities as business owners are very demanding and can often feel thankless. When I am feeling like my day-to-day turns into a grind, I find a project of importance that I find fun. It’s typically something creative like building onto our company’s website or coming up with a new marketing strategy. This project will get me outside of the daily grind and change my perspective to think bigger and to renew my passion for new opportunities.
Dedication and passion are great attributes for small business owners, but being overworked and continuously stressed will do your business more harm than good. Don’t hesitate to take a step back and breathe. Follow our expert list of ways to avoid burnout and develop healthier work habits that will be beneficial to your new business in the long run.
Did we miss out on your go-to tips on how to avoid burnout? Share them with us in the comments.