Being a Boss is Hard Work
Have you always wanted to own your own business? Or maybe have you owned your own business for several years and you still feel like you just can’t quite get caught up? Do you look at other business owners and wonder, “How are they making it look so easy? I am exhausted!” Eight years ago, I opened a bridal boutique. At the time, I also had a full-time job as an esthetician. I had no idea what I was getting into or how to make sure that I could keep going physically and mentally for the long haul. I just dove right in and hoped for the best. My advice? Don’t be like me. I’ve compiled a short list of the 5 ways to avoid burnout that I learned along the way. These are my tips to help you prevent the exhaustion and burnout that can sometimes come with owning a business.
5 Ways to Avoid Burnout
1. Self-Care Required
Sometime within the first year that my boutique opened, I remember my sister (who was a massage therapist at the time) would always tell me “Sarah, you are too stressed. You need to make sure that you are still making time for yourself or you are going to get burnt out.” She would tell me I needed to get a massage or take a bath, or any number of other “self-care” activities. I remember wanting to scream at her “Do you think I have time to relax!? If I don’t figure out how to sell at least four dresses this week, I am going to go out of business! I don’t have time for a massage!”
Sisters Are Always Right
Once things settled down a little bit (four years later) I realized that she was 100% right. If I had actually taken an hour to relax, I would have gotten all of the business items taken care of a lot faster and I probably would have been a lot less grumpy about it during the process. Eight years later, I still have a hard time following my own advice. It still feels extravagant, but if I notice I am starting to feel burnt out or uninspired, I immediately book an appointment for a massage.
2. Eat Well and Eat Often
We have all heard it before, you are what you eat. That’s good to keep in mind, but if you are in the middle of trying to start your own business or even if you’ve owned your own company for years, I would wager to guess that this can still be a hard thing to manage. Most of us don’t feel like eating well when we are stressed. We feel like eating a cheeseburger! Or in my case, a pulled pork sandwich and sweet potato fries with a glass of red wine. By all means, if you have a craving, go for it! But if eating greasy food is your way of rewarding yourself after a hard day, or you’ve eaten Doritos for dinner for the past two nights because that’s what you had at the office and you were too busy to leave, it may be time to rethink your strategy.
Well That Should Have Been Obvious
Looking back now, I don’t know why this took me so long to figure out. I had eaten fairly well most of my life, and then once I started a business, I would repeatedly wreck my blood sugar. I had no food around all day, and by the time I got home I would be starving and eat anything that was around.
Eventually, I ended up stocking the office mini-fridge with protein shakes and making sure to always have almonds or protein bars close by in case of emergency. I don’t know why it took me almost two years to figure it out, but it’s something that you shouldn’t have to experience because it’s such an easy fix! Don’t forget to nourish yourself! You are working hard and your brain needs good stuff to keep it going!
3. Exercise Today, Not Someday
This goes along with self-care, but for me, exercise was one of those things that I just kept putting off until “tomorrow.” When you are busy, some things just fall to the back burner and you think you will get around to it once you have more time. Guess what?
You never actually get any more time in a day. You just learn how to manage your priorities more efficiently.
If I had it to do over again, I would definitely put exercise at the top of my list of priorities. In my case, I realized that it completely saved my sanity and made both my body and my brain more efficient throughout the day. Once I figured that out, I felt more motivated to make it to the gym at least a couple of days a week. Remember, if you miss a week or even a month, be easy on yourself. You are fighting the good fight and it isn’t always easy. Just get back to it as soon as you can, so that a month doesn’t turn into a year. It sounds crazy, but it’s easy to do, just ask me about how many times I went to the gym in 2015. I will give you a hint: zero.
4. Vent Out Loud and Vent Often
Owning a business can be the most rewarding job that you will ever have. It can also be one of the most overwhelming things that you have ever experienced. You are the person in charge. You are the boss and people (everyone, it seems) expects you to have all of the answers. If you don’t know how to do something, you have to figure it out. More often than not, especially if you are just starting out, you are the human resources department, the buyer, the customer service center, and the accounting department. You are in charge of every last thing and all of the decisions that go along with it. That is a lot of weight to carry on one person’s shoulders, as you probably already know.
What you may not know is that you have to talk to someone about it eventually or you will go crazy. As entrepreneurs, it is easy for us to fall into the trap of thinking that we don’t need anyone else’s help. After all, we have gotten this far on our own, why should we reach out for help now? It doesn’t have to be another business owner or a mentor in your field, it just has to be someone who cares about you and will listen. If you can find a mentor, that is wonderful! If you know other business owners in your field, even better!
Thanks, But No Thanks
In my case, I found out rather quickly that no other bridal store owners within a 50-mile radius wanted anything to do with me. And they sure as heck didn’t want to sit down for a chat with me about the woes of business ownership. Which brings me back to the need for venting.
Sharing is Caring
Even if you can do something as simple as just grabbing coffee with a friend, that is helpful! They can remind you that other people’s opinions don’t really matter and that you are brave for even trying to do something that you love, and that goes such a long way. If you can afford to go to a therapist and vent to them for an hour, even better. It’s just so important that you don’t feel alone, with the weight of the world on your shoulders. Simply talking to someone is an easy way to prevent that feeling!
5. Spend Time With The People You Love
This is an obvious one, but an easy one to neglect. Go on dates! Spend time with your partner, with your friends, with anyone you enjoy being around.
Just make sure that you are investing your time with people who fill you with energy and don’t deplete you.
You don’t need to waste your precious time going to dinner with someone that is constantly complaining, drowning in negativity and draining your energy. Sure, that is part of life in an equal relationship, but if you notice that you are someone else’s full-time unpaid therapist, it might be time to find some new friends who can support you as well. You have precious energy reserves, and it’s important to be around people that fill you up! Spend time with people who make you laugh, who keep you grounded and help you to put things into perspective. Those are the people you need in your life!
Find Your Tribe And Hold On Tight
It is easy to neglect people when things get busy, but keep in mind that those are the same people that are going to get you through the tough times. They are the people that will drive you to the hospital when you can’t drive yourself. When you have a family emergency and need to reschedule your clients, but you can’t talk on the phone without crying.
The people that love you will help you figure out how to keep your business going when life happens. And life will happen.
So it’s good to have your support system already firmly in place and make those people a priority. Who are the people in your tribe that you can’t live without? Entrepreneurs, can you relate to any of these hard-learned lessons? What would you do differently if you had the chance?