Feeling Burned Out With Your Business? Do These 3 Things

by Carrie Smith 4 Minutes

computer-frustrationAs the owner of a business, its all too easy to get stuck in a routine of managing daily tasks to where you lose sight of why you started the business in the first place.

It’s something we all face — that feeling of being uninspired and burned out with the day-to-day tasks of running a business, dealing with clients, and trying to grow.

How can you recover from business burnout without giving up and walking away (which is the first thing we want to do)?

Here’s a quick game plan to take you from burned out and uninspired to loving your business again.

You Chose to be the Boss

In all likelihood you chose to branch out and start your own business. So don’t forget what it was like to work for someone else, and not have the time or the freedom to make your own decisions.

Yes, you still have to answer to clients from time to time, but you’re the boss and that is a privilege that a lot of individuals don’t have. Remind yourself why you started this business and that you are indeed the boss.

It’s very easy to slip back into that employee mindset and begin viewing clients and your boss (I’m very guilty of this), but take a step back and remind yourself that this is YOUR BUSINESS. You’re the boss!

Once you’re able to get back into the right mindset, it’s easy to follow these next steps, and before you know it you’ll go from burnout mode to inspired business owner again.

1. Reassess Your Workload and Make Changes

Just like there’s a lifestyle creep that happens occasionally with our budgets, there’s also a client creep that happens as you continue building your business and adding more projects to your roster.

After awhile it’s time to reassess who continues to make the cut and who doesn’t. For me it’s super helpful to compare the clients side-by-side (taking a page from Mike Michalowicz’s book) and listing the clients in order of my favorites to least favorites. The clients don’t need to know what order they’re in, but it’s important you do.

Here are a few questions to ask when evaluating each project:

  • Is the work/pay/effort worth your time?
  • Do you enjoy doing the project (or do you dread it)?
  • Is your time better spent elsewhere?
  • If you were paid the price you want, would it still be worth doing?

Every aspect should be factored into whether or not these clients make the cut — things like what price they pay you, how much time it takes, if your invoices are paid quickly, how easy (or difficult) they are to work with, all need to be taken into account.

Once you organize all of your clients based on each factor, the “problem clients” (or even problem projects) will easily start to stand out. Then you have two options of dealing with them:

  1. Request a significant raise to compensate for [insert reason here]
  2. Ask for a different project or refer the client to someone else and move on

If your client doesn’t want to give you a raise, it’s time to cut the ties and move on. When I finally came to grips with a project that was a complete time and energy suck, I emailed my client and said that I had to be removed from the project.

Once I did that, a huge load of stress was lifted off my shoulders. Yes, I lost a little bit of money, but I gained other awesome opportunities because I wasn’t bogged down with work that I didn’t enjoy.

2. Hire an Assistant to Help

When your workload gets too much to handle yourself, it’s time to call in reinforcements. You don’t have to do everything yourself, so now’s a good time to hire an assistant or VA. Even if you don’t want to hire them for the long-term, having short-term help can be extremely valuable when you’re feeling burned out.

Hand over the projects that have been weighing you down, and enlist an assistant to pick up the slack for you. Don’t be afraid to outsource certain tasks or projects. This strategy can literally keep you sane while ensuring that you don’t ruin your business reputation while you recover.

In addition to offering actual business support, an assistant can help offer emotional support too, while you figure things out. They can send those tough emails, breaking up with clients, on your behalf. They’ll support and encourage you, while being someone you can bounce ideas off of.

So what kind of assistant do you need? A general virtual assistant is a great place to start. They can get you caught up on emails, help answer client questions, schedule posts on social media, and handle all the other small tasks that eat into your day.

3. Take Time Off to Unplug

During this time of burnout you need to block off time to unplug, so you can regain perspective. A VA can help manage the daily tasks of the business while you’re getting a better view of the overall picture.

Additionally, getting away from the computer and unplugging for any period of time will give you some much-needed perspective. When I was going through a rough time feeling burned out with my business, I booked a weekend camping trip in the woods. I had zero access to a phone, internet or computer for 3 days, and it was glorious.

There’s so much noise coming at us from social media, the internet, TV and the like, and sometimes you need to unplug from it all to truly understand what your business dreams and goals are.

Reach out to your network and find someone who can start working with you to get ahead, so you can take a few days off to unplug. It may sound daunting, but trust me when I say that in the end it will be worth it. Listening to your own thoughts and desires for your business will go a long way to helping you feel refreshed and recover from burnout.

How to Recover from Business Burnout

As a business owner you are the most important asset to your business, so it’s vital you make yourself and your needs a priority. Your business can’t run without you, so in order to put your best work out there and give the best to your clients, you have to care of you first.

Photo credit: channah

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by Carrie Smith
Carrie Smith is a financial artist and founder of The Client Connection, a matchmaking service for clients and freelancers who want to avoid job boards and instead build quality businesses. In 2013 she quit her full-time accounting job and now works as a full-time business consultant and writer. Find her on Twitter (@carefulcents).