Burnout is a common problem among entrepreneurs. While you may start a firm with great excitement, getting to the launch stage is a long journey, with setbacks almost inevitable. When you do launch, you discover that getting the product to market was just the first hurdle – now there are new challenges associated with supporting your product, growing the company, and dealing with competitor responses. It all takes its toll on your energy and enthusiasm for your project. You are not alone – this article explores ways of dealing with entrepreneurial burnout.
Approaches for reducing entrepreneurial burnout
Treat entrepreneurship as a marathon, not a sprint
Particularly early on in the life of a startup, it is easy to treat launching a firm as a sprint. Each day is a mini-hackathon – targets to hit, objectives to accomplish. This approach can work well for some people, but ultimately it can start to take its toll. 18 hour back-to-back days can start off fun, but if you are continually pushing and pushing, your pace will inevitably start to slow.
At some point, it will likely become necessary to change your mindset from treating each day as a sprint to acknowledging that launching and growing a company is a long-term endeavor, more akin to a marathon.
Celebrate the small wins
Another important component of avoiding burnout is to celebrate company success – no matter how small. Success as an entrepreneur accumulates over time, made of many small steps rather than one big one. While it is important to have one eye on the long-term goals of the firm, it is likewise important to keep a focus on the smaller steps required to get there and to congratulate yourself every time that you make some progress.
The small successes that you can celebrate can include new sales, development progress, or new records on your key performance indicators. While you don’t need to be hitting milestones every day, whenever you do reach a target, make sure to pat yourself on the back. These small wins will gradually accumulate, with each helping to attain your ultimate objectives.
Cut yourself some slack
While celebrating the small wins is important, it is likewise important not to be harsh on yourself for missing any targets. Remember, starting a firm is a marathon, and although daily progress will cumulate over time, having an unproductive day is a common occurrence.
Setbacks and common, and you will inevitably make some missteps. You will look back and think ‘why did I do that’, or ‘I wish I had done something different there’. Recognizing your prior missteps is a good thing: now you won’t make the same mistake again. Treat the entire process as a process, and recognize that some days, weeks, and months will be more productive than others.
Mix up your routine
One way of re-energizing your routine is to add some variation to your routine. If you have been doing the same activity day after day, it is easy to start to lose energy in continually chipping away at the task. While there may be a lot of hard or repetitive work involved in getting a product to market, there is likely a variety of other tasks that you can intersperse into your daily routine to increase variety in your work.
While increasing the daily variety is one good approach for mixing up your schedule, another is to allocate one whole day a week to different activities. Particularly if you have one long activity, dragging over many months, it can be useful to take a complete break and work on a different part of the company. Not only will allow you to take a necessary pause from working solidly on one area, but it can help you see the bigger picture – allowing you to appreciate the direction that the firm is taking.
Recognize you are not alone
It can be useful to recognize that you are not alone in facing hurdles. It is not uncommon for startups to face challenges – getting a new firm launched is not easy. Sometimes it can be useful to recognize that others are facing a very similar set of challenges – missteps are an inherent part of the entrepreneurial journey.
Consider a co-working space
Co-working spaces have many advantages for entrepreneurs – allowing you to mix with other similar-minded individuals. Interacting with others can be a valuable source of support. They are likely going through a very similar process to you. Adding a social dimension to your venture can help reduce burnout, while also allowing you to more clearly see that you are not alone in this experience – others are struggling with very similar issues to you.
Final thoughts: Don’t wait until you have reached the point of burnout
A key danger is to see any attempt to take a pause as a weakness when starting a firm. While it is important to maintain a level of effort in your firm, taking proactive steps to avoid burnout is not a weakness. You don’t need to wait to the point in which your motivation has dropped and you are no longer excited about your startup before taking steps to reduce the burnout. In fact, it may be a lot easier to take proactive steps early on to avoid burnout, than to regain energy once you are tired. Remember, proactive steps to help you keep the passion in your firm is not only good for your own motivation, but it is important for the success of the firm.
If your motivation for your business has started to decline, see your guide on regaining passion for your startup.