8 Ways to Fight Burnout as an Entrepreneur
I won’t lie to you, we’re at a challenging time of the year. It’s the end of May and many people are starting to taper off on their New Year’s resolutions.
Plus, with the beach calling and the summer right around the corner, it can be difficult to muster up motivation in your business–no matter how passionate you are. And even if you’re still laser-focused, odds are that your team members are starting to drift off into neverland.
On top of that, burnout starts to creep in when motivation is low and the work is hard. Consider the following burnout statistics from a 2021 American Psychological Association survey of entrepreneurs & employees:
- 79% of respondents experienced severe work-related stress in the month before the survey
- 36% reported cognitive weariness and 32% reported emotional exhaustion
- 44% reported physical fatigue (an astounding 38% increase since 2019)
As both entrepreneurs and employees try to will themselves to give more effort, it can actually have the reverse effect. It turns out that our willpower is only so strong.
The good news is that there are a number of ways to combat low motivation and feelings of burnout. The opposite of burnout is fulfillment, so reconnecting to purpose and joy is a great way to help you and your team get more motivated.
In this post, we’ll discuss 5 time-tested strategies to stave off burnout as an entrepreneur. We’ll also share 3 tips you can use to help your team members regain motivation and momentum.
5 Tips to beat Burnout as an Entrepreneur
1: Get Clear on Your “Why”
I’m guessing you started your business with an inspiring mission in mind. However, we often lose sight of that mission when we get caught up in the daily grind of reports, meetings, etc.
When you notice your motivation starting to wear off, it’s important to take some time to reflect on your WHY. What made you start this business in the first place? This helps you reconnect to a grander purpose for your life and your work, making it much easier to regain excitement for those daily tasks.
This “Why” is almost always tied to a form of service to others. Psychologists call this the “do good, feel-good phenomenon.” Serving others lifts our own spirits because we’re evolutionarily wired to help each other.
So the next time you feel yourself burning out from work, re-align with the purpose you created for yourself. This will allow you to push forward with renewed enthusiasm and fulfillment.
2: Find Mentors Who Inspire You
As you level up as an entrepreneur, you might look around one day and no longer feel inspired by the people around you. Perhaps you reached a milestone that you created in your mind, and then you floundered as you thought: “Now what?”
This happens to every entrepreneur as they start to see more success. And reaching the mountaintop of whatever goal you set can lead to complacency–and that’s a dangerous game. If you’re not careful, that complacency can lead to more failure instead of growth.
One helpful way around this is to make sure you’re surrounded by mentors who inspire you. This can come in many different forms. The most obvious solution is to work with a business or personal development coach who keeps you accountable.
I recommend this the most because support from a great coach will expedite your growth process and learning curve. And I’m far from being the only entrepreneur who believes in the power of coaching. 88% of business owners with a business coach say that having one is the most invaluable decision they made for themselves & their business (think about that for a second).
A second solution is to find a trustworthy business partner who complements your strengths and makes up for your weaknesses. Life as an entrepreneur can get lonely, and it’s easy to feel misunderstood by 99% of the general population. Having a business partner who keeps you accountable and pushes you to reach new heights will keep burnout at bay and motivation high.
And finally, turn to the world of social media. Now, I’m not the biggest social media fan for our personal development because it can be a dumpster fire of negativity.
However, there are countless entrepreneurs and business coaches like Gary Vee & Tony Robbins pumping out incredibly valuable content multiple times daily–for FREE!
So if you can’t hire a coach or don’t see the need for a business partner, you can always turn to your social media channels for inspiration, motivation, and accountability. Just don’t get distracted by a random food account that has you scrolling through paella recipes for 6 hours…
3: Discipline > Motivation
We already discussed the fact that motivation doesn’t last forever. Like anything in life, it ebbs and flows. You can’t rely on the tides of motivation to dictate when you get important stuff done. That’s where discipline comes in.
If you value discipline over motivation and define yourself, you’ll always find the strength to accomplish critical tasks. Because even though motivation wavers, discipline is something you have complete control over.
So, my challenge to you today is to make the internal identity shift to see yourself as a disciplined entrepreneur rather than just a motivated person. Seeing yourself in this new light is exactly what allows you to carry on when the going gets tough.
“Okay fine,” you say, “but how do I make myself more disciplined?”
Part of becoming a disciplined leader is becoming ruthlessly organized with your time. Plan a schedule for your next day with the 3 most important tasks you intend to accomplish. Stick to this plan consistently and over time you’ll start to see yourself as a disciplined person. And as you build discipline, you also build self-confidence as you prove that you keep the commitments you make to yourself.
4: Unplug & Unwind
“Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” said the ancient Roman poet Sextus. While this is usually talked about in a romantic context, it’s also true for your business.
Burnout is especially likely to surface when you work nonstop for an extended period of time. While you might feel like you can never take a break in order to grow your business, the truth is that working nonstop actually has the reverse effect.
Past a certain point, you start to experience diminishing returns (or losses) because your brain is fried and your creative energy is sapped. This means that you can’t think clearly and you end up just spinning your wheels furiously without actually moving forward.
The solution? Unplug and unwind. Make sure you take time to exercise, connect with others, and treat yourself to a break in whatever way is most enjoyable to you.
What you’ll notice after a break is that you return to your business recharged and able to quickly solve problems that were giving you trouble before.
In fact, a new study shows that a whopping 90% of workers report that taking a break helps them feel refreshed and ready to get back to work.
Another unplugging hack is to go on long walks to clear your head. Countless leaders and revolutionary thinkers like Abe Lincoln, Albert Einstein, and Steve Jobs swear by the power of walking to recharge your creative batteries.
As an entrepreneur and the leader of your business, the buck starts (and stops) with you. Because this is such a big responsibility, it’s critical that you prioritize your own well-being. After all, you can’t be useful to your business or team if you’re exhausted from burnout. For peak productivity and longevity, make sure you take some time to unplug & unwind–you earned it.
5: Automate & Delegate
And our final tip for you to stave off burnout is to use automation tools to your advantage. As entrepreneurs, we often feel like we’re responsible for every aspect of our business. While this is true in many ways, there’s no need to make it any harder for yourself.
There are tons of project management tools that allow you to completely automate aspects of your business like invoices, payroll, etc. Use them to your advantage so you can protect your creative energy.
Equally important to automation is delegation. It’s easy to feel like this is MY business that no one will ever understand as well as I do. However, this line of thinking is a trap.
You must effectively delegate tasks to your team in order to maintain your own sanity.
It’s an act of trust both in your employees and in your hiring decisions, and it can be a scary leap for entrepreneurs. However, your ultimate goal is to best serve your customers. And you can’t be everywhere at once.
You have to delegate effectively–not just for your own sake, but also to keep your team members motivated. And that’s exactly what we’re going to discuss in the next section.
3 Ways to Get Your Team More Motivated
“To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace,” said the former CEO of the Campbell Soup Company, Doug Conant.
His point was that you need to prioritize your work & team culture first before you have any chance of delivering great results to the market. This section will discuss 3 ways you can get your team more engaged.
1: Celebrate Wins
Many employees live in a state of constant fear. They’re afraid of making a mistake, getting fired, disappointing their bosses/coworkers, etc. And while it’s important to point out mistakes in order to grow from them, it’s equally important to celebrate wins.
Fear and punishment is not a sustainable way to run your business. While it might deliver short-term results, it’s guaranteed to fail in the long run.
Because employees who are afraid to make mistakes won’t take any creative risks. And there’s no growth without risk.
In fact, a new study shows that 69% of employees would work harder if they felt like their company better appreciated their efforts.
That’s why it’s so important to celebrate wins–no matter how small they might seem. These celebrations motivate your team to keep innovating. They’ll feel valued and competent (key desires for ALL human beings) which promotes a strong workplace culture for business growth.
So, the next time an employee lands a client, take a minute to ring a bell or announce the achievement to the rest of the team. Remember this: leaders are only as good as their ability to inspire their employees’ best performances.
2: Don’t Micromanage
Micromanaging is a strategy that you must avoid. In fact, it’s a surefire way to leave your employees feeling trapped, frustrated, and wanting to quit.
In a survey by Trinity Solutions, 69% of workers who felt they were micromanaged said they were considering leaving their job directly because of it.
Your goal as a leader is ALWAYS to empower your team members. Of course, you should have clear SOPs and accountability check-ins to make sure your team is on track. But you also must allow them to take ownership of their own ideas.
Give them the autonomy to innovate, and I guarantee you’ll be surprised by the results. After all, their unique perspective and way of thinking is why you hired them in the first place, right?
A final example for you: in sports, they say the best teams promote a culture where the worst player is treated the exact same as the superstar.
One of the secrets of Tom Brady’s success (the NFL quarterback who’s won a record 7 Super Bowls) is that he personally knows every member on the team–from the star running back to the fourth-string punter. In fact, he texts every player individually before the start of the season to discuss their role and potential.
By empowering each player (no matter how small their role seems), he brings the team together and makes everyone feel valued. THAT’S how championship teams are built–in sports and in business.
3: Encourage Great Communication
Another hallmark of a thriving workplace is great communication. 86% of entrepreneurs and employees cite the lack of effective collaboration and communication as the MAIN cause of workplace failures. And the flip side is that teams who communicate effectively can increase overall business productivity & growth by a staggering 25%!
In order to increase your team’s engagement, you want to make sure that their voices are heard. To keep communication lines open, you can practice an open-door policy or host office hours where your team members can come speak with you.
At the same time, you should consistently ask for feedback on processes, workflow, & SOPS. By encouraging this high level of open communication, your team members will know that they’re valued and not just another cog in the machine.
Another way to practice great communication is to design team-building games and activities. Or, you can create a “watercooler chat” where specific employees take ownership of a fun question prompt each week to encourage discussion & connection outside of work topics.
These are just a few examples to keep your team engaged and motivated. Feel free to use your creativity to come up with others. And never underestimate the importance of a thriving workplace culture for business growth and overall retention.
Feelings of burnout are common for both entrepreneurs and employees. It’s nearly impossible to always sustain a high level of motivation because it ebbs and flows.
However, there are a number of different ways to stave off burnout. In the process, you’ll keep yourself and your team excited about the mission you’re pursuing.
The result of these efforts? Long-term, consistent fulfillment. And, at the end of the day, isn’t that what we’re all after?