There’s nothing more liberating than going into business for yourself. When you have entrepreneurial ambitions the daily grind of the 9 to 5 is not the most satisfying environment. Many entrepreneurs have spent at least some time in jobs where they felt that their skills were going to waste. They know how it feels for their ambition to be quelled by lack of opportunity, for their senses to be dulled by monotony and repetition and for their vocational skills and God given talents to slowly atrophy in a job that they are wasted on. Being able to cast off that yoke and unshackle yourself from a day job that’s slowly squeezing the life out of you is a wonderful thing. Moreover, seeing an idea of your own take shape, be breathed to life and suddenly become a working (or even thriving) operation is a singularly wonderful experience…
But it all comes at a price.
All entrepreneurs are extremely hard working, single minded and determined individuals and while this is most certainly a strength, it can be to their detriment. So readily do new entrepreneurs throw themselves into the building and running of their enterprise that they toil long and hard, day after day, working long hours and often working weeks without taking a day off. Vacations become a distant memory and quality time with friends and family gets increasingly scarce. Yet, entrepreneurs simply see this as a necessary toll to pay to bypass the rat race and take their livelihoods and careers into their own hands. Yet, while their solid work ethic is commendable, entrepreneurs risk damaging not only their health but their personal relationships, their professional relationships and even their business if they don’t strive to attain a level of work / life balance. Here we’ll take a look at some of the less than flattering effects of entrepreneurial burnout and look at some ways in which even someone as busy as you can attain work / life balance.
Entrepreneurial burnout is real. Don’t let it happen to you
You’ve likely heard of entrepreneurial burnout but shrugged it off. “It’ll never happen to me”, you told yourself. You assumed that your passion would create endless reserves of limitless energy that would propel you through the growth of your business. And while it may feel this way at first, it’s only a matter of time until it catches up with you. Most full time workers work 35-40 hours a week and still struggle to find work / life balance. On the other hand, a recent study shows that around 30% of small business owners work more than 50 hours per week, while nearly 20% report working 60 hours or more a week and almost 80% feel that they’re working too much. Needless to say, working hours like this is not sustainable. Let’s take a look at what happens when you try…
Your stress levels will go through the roof, increasing your chances of heart disease, strokes, dementia and even some cancers. You likely won’t have time to cook or eat nutritious meals and will resort to eating in bites and subsisting on fast food or whatever you can get out of the vending machine. These foods tend to be high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, high in sakt, high in fat… And low in just about everything else. As such, your energy levels will keep dipping and you’ll likely chug espresso after espresso to keep them up, resulting in peaks and valleys of energy throughout the day. Sure you’ll get a joly but after a while you’ll actually start to feel more tired. You’ll probably gain weight. You’ll find it harder to concentrate. You’ll make more mistakes. You’ll become antsy and irritable. You’ll start to get snappy with employees or worse still your family. This can do severe damage to your working relationships and your personal life. There’s a reason why divorce rates are so high (around 50%) among entrepreneurs.
Not only can this burnout be damaging… It’s also completely avoidable.Here we’ll look at some simple ways in which you can reduce your daily stress and achieve that elusive work / life balance.
Passion is important, caring is commendable… But learn to let go!
Entrepreneurs are driven by passion. It’s what drove them to quit their day job and go into business for themselves. It’s what kept them going even when one door after another was shut in their face while they chased funding. It’s what keeps them going despite the long hours, the risk and the personal sacrifice. But don’t make the mistake of assuming that your employees don’t share your passion or that you’re the only person capable of handling the myriad complex or esoteric tasks that occupy your day.
Outsourcing… A leap of faith
Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean that you should. Just because you have the writing talent, the social media savvy and the design flair to run your own marketing operations doesn’t mean that your business wouldn’t be better served by outsourcing to a digital marketing agency. Just because you’re technically literate doesn’t mean that it’s worth outsourcing your IT to a third party provider. Lots of entrepreneurs are reluctant to outsource functions because they worry that the creative vision they have for their brand will be diluted or that it will incur unnecessary costs. But outsourcing is usually more cost efficient than doing it all yourself. Outsourced agents will work collaboratively with you to ensure that the service they provides is completely congruous with your mission statement and the provision they provide can be scaled up or down as your business grows and contracts so that you know your capital won’t be wasted on services you aren’t using.
Delegating is a skill
Finally, you take great pains to ensure that you recruit only the best for your business. You screen candidates and train them rigorously to ensure that they offer your customers and clients the same quality of service they’d get if they were dealing directly with you… So why not use these people to your advantage? The last thing you want to be is the kind of micromanager who hovers around trying to do their job for them. Trust your employees and empower them by sharing your responsibilities with them.
They’ll lighten your workload and allow you to spend more time doing the things you love and spending time with the people who matter most.