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How to avoid burnout in a start-up

Is the addiction of wanting to succeed in the early days of your business taking its toll?

How to avoid burnout

Avoiding burnout when you are starting out is tough. Of course, you don’t intentionally set out to run yourself into the ground; however, you don’t realise this is even happening as you power through the days on adrenaline. I was addicted to my business in the early days.

Every time my phone would vibrate with a new enquiry, I jumped on it like it was my lifeline – whether it meant leaving the dinner table or interrupting a conversation with my husband – to respond. I wanted to convert every lead, provide the ultimate service and the fastest possible turnaround. I thrived on people admiring my quick response times – even if it was at 3am.

This, in the end, became a negative as my customers came to expect that sort of turnaround as ‘normal’ which, of course, is not sustainable and definitely not scalable – no-one will ever care about your brand as much as you do. I ended up with pneumonia for 13 weeks which ultimately caused more harm than good to not only my wellbeing, but also my business and relationships.

Having been burned out and seeing how this affected everything around me, I will share with you some advice on how to avoid burnout.

How to avoid burnout

  1. Set boundaries

    It is vital to set yourself boundaries in the early days of your business to encourage good habits for the future. Not just good habits for yourself, but also for your future employees as well as your clients. Just because they are awake at 2am replying to emails because their baby can’t sleep, doesn’t mean they should expect a response from you.

    Set the hours you are going to work and stick to them. Things may be quiet in the early days of your business revenue-wise, and you will want to keep going and pushing for quicker results; but adhering to this structured approach will set you in good stead for when things take off.

  2. Learn how to manage stress

    The number of times I have heard myself say to someone “I’m not stressed” – if someone is identifying that perhaps you are, they aren’t the ones looking through rose-coloured glasses and have obviously seen a shift in your personality. Acknowledge it, and manage it with some timeout – a walk around the block, a call to someone who has nothing to do with your business; whatever works for you to clear your head.

  3. Prioritise

    When you start a business, there are so many things that need to be done. You need to set up systems, build a website, service your customers, hunt for new customers, create templates. Instead of getting overwhelmed, set realistic, small goals and time frames for the tasks you wish to achieve each day. Pace yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

  4. Me time

    Make time for yourself – exercise to clear your head. Eat well to keep your body functioning at its peak. Zone out with a book or magazine, or sit and watch the ocean. Don’t rush this time, embrace it.

  5. Reflect

    In the early days, you are like an energiser bunny that keeps going and going. Take time each week to look at what you’ve achieved during the week. You may feel like you are getting nowhere, but when you reflect and see how much you’ve actually accomplished that week, it helps keep things in perspective.

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