Stagnation is a pretty universal problem for entrepreneurs all across the country. And it’s not hard to see why: In a recent survey of small business owners, two out of three respondents said they work in excess of 50 hours per week, nine out of 10 are working on the weekends, and 80 percent continue working after leaving their businesses for the day.
In a Q&A session with small business owners, Shark Tank judge Barbara Corcoran weighed in on the issue that impacts so many entrepreneurs. “Stagnation happens when you’re working too hard, doing too many of the same less enjoyable things at the office, contending with one bad customer or employee that drains you, or you haven’t had a vacation in a while,” she said. “When you feel stuck mentally, it’s impossible to move your business ahead—so it’s time to take a break, regroup, and get rid of the stuff you don’t like doing. Everyone knows what they don’t like, so ask yourself the question, ‘Who do I know that could take over this task/responsibility for me?’ There’s always someone, but you need to step back to see it and figure it all out.”
Delegation can go a long way toward preventing burnout. Here are three more things you can do to stay focused on what’s important and overcome the feeling of stagnation:
Turning back to the survey, only half of the respondents said they felt like they achieved work/life balance. I believe that work/life integration is a better goal. With all the connectivity tools available at our fingertips, it’s difficult (if not impossible) to completely step away from the day-to-day responsibilities of running a successful business. That’s why it’s important to set boundaries for when you’ll take phone calls, when you’ll head home each night, and how much time you’ll devote to the business on weekends and holidays.
A few years ago, I met one of the smartest business leaders I’ve ever had the opportunity to rub shoulders with. Dick Cross, author of the book Just Run It!, is a nine-time turnaround CEO who has some pretty insightful ideas. One of them is that every business owner or CEO should set aside at least one hour a week to think about his or her business. The hard part will be stepping away from email and other tasks to quietly sit and think. He argues that giving yourself permission to spend valuable time doing this will be a challenge, but over time you will start to realize insight that you otherwise miss while handling the daily distractions and demands on your time. I’ve tried it, and it’s a great way to gain focus and insight into the future of your business and get energized about what you’re doing.
Growing up in a small business family and running my own, I came to appreciate that delegation was an opportunity to mentor and groom future leaders. Some owners are much better at this than others, and those who don’t see the value of this tend to be married to their businesses 24/7 and can’t ever step away. Of course, building future leaders doesn’t happen overnight, and I suggest it starts by looking into the future of every employee you hire.
The daily grind can sometimes feel overwhelming. The key is to prioritize the things that are most important to you. For those who can do it successfully, owning a business can be an incredibly fulfilling and profitable enterprise.
What are some of the things you do to avoid burnout?
Ty Kiisel is a contributing author focusing on small business financing at OnDeck, a technology company solving small business’s biggest challenge: access to capital. With over 25 years of experience in the trenches of small business, Ty shares personal experiences and valuable tips to help small business owners become more financially responsible. OnDeck can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.