We entrepreneurs are great at burning ourselves out. We are uniquely prone to economic fluctuation, and are directly responsible for our staff, partners, and customers. It’s enough to drive someone mad, which explains why 45% of start-up owners report being stressed; around five percent above the average population. Re-discovering your passion, and re-invigorating yourself, is really key to avoiding entrepreneurial burnout. And while there’s plenty of tips and tricks on keeping your flame burning, I’ve found the following work well for me.
I actually miss annual employee reviews because, back when I still had to do them, it gave me an opportunity to think back on the past year, list all of my accomplishments, and just feel good about my work. Business owners rarely give themselves the time to just think back on what they’ve done, and that’s a shame. This year, take a couple of hours to list out what you wanted to do last year and what you accomplished. It’s really hard to separate the forest from the trees when you spend every, single day working hard and making your business just a little bit better than the day before. Entrepreneurs – especially entrepreneurial women – tend to struggle with impostor syndrome, which only fuels an impending burnout. That’s why it’s so vital to take a step back and admire your handiwork. Afterwards you’ll feel empowered, confident, and ready to get back to work.
Mentoring is easily one the most impactful, and invigorating, jobs you can do as an entrepreneur. I started mentoring up-and-coming business owners through a local college and I absolutely love it. Seeing these young men and women in the same spot I was, and then helping guide and advise them towards their own success is an amazing experience. One study found mentoring boosted start-up level success by 13%, and just being a part of that is very rewarding. It reminds you why you got into business in the first place, and helps you to re-discover that boundless energy you used to have when you first started up. Older businesses that lack this energy stagnate, and you’ll be amazed at the ideas and projects you suddenly come up with when you’re not just focused on making another day profitable.
We tend to pigeonhole ourselves as business owners. You get into the habit of doing something a certain way, and you plug into the office, day in and day out, sitting in on meetings, crunching numbers, and putting out fires. But there’s so much more to your business than that. Burnout and boredom go hand-in-hand, so try exploring your industry and space. Read about your field, try writing about it, look into new marketing or industry practices – I never thought I would write articles as a CEO, but I absolutely love that I do. But if that isn’t up your alley, try painting your office or taking on a new project. Repetition kills excitement, so re-igniting your passion for your business means finding something new, but still within your wheelhouse, on which to focus.
Being an entrepreneur is very different after a few years of success. Your role begins to feel more like a standard job than a passion, and I’ll be the first to admit it the idea of business-ownership loses some luster. But if you allow yourself to backslide into boredom and repetition, your business will stagnate and suffer. It’s the beginning of the year, so now is the perfect time to take the initiative and re-discover why you went into business in the first place. Look at what you’ve created, inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs, and try experimenting with your role as “business owner.” You’ll be amazed by how much energy and passion is left untapped.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.