Home-based and other small business or franchise owners are some of the busiest people on the planet bar none. While the flexibility to set your own hours and work at your own pace can be a real plus, that degree of freedom comes with a price tag―the buck stops with you on every level. And when everything is resting on your shoulders, the burden can sometimes seem downright overwhelming.
Unfortunately, being overwhelmed for an extended period of time can easily lead to what many experts would say is a significant cause of small-business failure―burnout.
Contrary to what you might think you know about this thing we call burnout, it’s not something that just happens overnight. It’s actually a very gradual process, one that comes with a whole host of warning signs and symptoms―physical, emotional and behavioral. The trick is to know what to look for sooner rather than later so that you can avoid a total collapse and take the necessary precautions to reverse your downward spiral and get back on track.
When it comes to physical symptoms, if you are feeling tired and drained all the time, if you’re feeling sick a lot or having frequent head, back or muscle pain, or if your sleep habits or appetite has changed to any marked degree, then you may need to make a conscious decision to take better care of yourself. The same holds true on the emotional front. If you feel helpless, trapped or an impending sense of doom all the time, that’s not good. Loneliness, loss of motivation, increasing negativity and the sense that you never seem to accomplish anything are also very common indicators that something just isn’t right.
As for behavioral cues, if you start withdrawing from your responsibilities, spend more time in isolation, become more likely to put things off that need to get done or begin taking out your frustrations on others, then learning how to deal with stress in a more productive way is definitely on your to-do list. Of course, if you feel the need to use food, drugs or alcohol to cope in any measureable way with your daily responsibilities, that’s a sure sign that one problem is leading to yet another―one that will only make things much worse ultimately.
We all know that the hallmark of any good entrepreneur is the ability to adapt and take very deliberate action in a planned and measureable way to maintain profitability and ensure his or her company’s success. When it comes to burnout, taking time to do what is necessary to maintain your own well-being is as critical and needs to be every bit as important to you as setting and meeting business goals, taking care of customers, meeting deadlines or any other must-do task you view as non-negotiable.
Carve out time for yourself to do something you enjoy, if not each day then certainly two or three times a week. Take breaks to get some fresh air, talk with someone you love or walk your dog. Eat right, exercise and get the sleep you need. Make sure you set boundaries when it comes to the “disease to please”―it’s okay to say “no.” Get some support to learn how to manage stress in your daily life more effectively if need be.
The bottom line when it comes to burnout is that while the business is important, you matter as much or even more! You've got to recognize that taking the necessary precautions to avoid becoming crispy is not selfish, it’s an imperative. After all, as a home-based or other small business or franchise owner, if you go down, your business goes down right along with you. And then where will you be?