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Entrepreneurial burnout

burnout 600New business owners tend to hit the ground rolling – eager and exited to prove to the world that it can be done. A byproduct, however, is that the owner often works so hard that life is not balanced.

Time flies, the years – 2, 3, 4, 10 – pass and these well-intentioned entrepreneurs are still grinding. The kids are growing rapidly, recitals are missed and sports activities have to be watched on cell phone video. Going to work becomes something to dread and when they get there they have little to contribute other than being present.

Such owners may be experiencing entrepreneurial burnout, a state of emotional and physical exhaustion. With the weight of the livelihood of others in their hands, small business owners cannot afford burnout. Still, it is a troubling occurrence that happens all too frequently.

CarleeMcCullough-160The signs

1. Exhaustion. Are you tired when you wake up? Feeling physically exhausted before you even get to work? Are you mentally drained? Do you dread going to work?

2. Depression or negative feelings toward business. Are you depressed? Do you have negative feelings about the business because it is underperforming? Are you overwhelmed from the responsibilities of the business? Do you have no feelings of satisfaction with the business?

3. Performance reduced. Are tasks that were customary and ordinary now difficult to complete? Are your views of those tasks now negative? Is it hard to concentrate on the activity of the business? Do you lack a creativity contribution to the business?

4. Stress level is high. Is your stress level high?

5. Physical symptoms. Have you experienced chest pain, shortness of breath, or heart palpitations?

How to avoid burnout

Life must be balanced. If the owner is all work and no play, burnout can set in easily. If the owner is all play and no work, the business will suffer quickly. So over the years I have learned to live by the following motto, "Work Hard! Play Hard! Pray Hard!" Success in business requires working hard and smart.

Playing is participating in any activity that does not involve work. It could include sleeping, meditating, getting a massage, spending time with friends or family, vacationing, reading or partying. But don't party to the point of needing to recuperate for days after the party. Adequate rest and relaxation is required to avoid burnout. Lack of rest increases the likelihood of stress, high blood pressure, weight gain and other related illnesses.

Prayer helps provide a sense of calm when all appears to be chaotic. Whether the business owner mediates or prays to a higher being, time out for this activity adds balance to the scale.

Entrepreneurs are so focused on the business and others that they rarely take time to focus on themselves. Their focus should include a great diet. Good eating habits are a major factor in avoiding burnout.

Communicate with a colleague, confidante, friend or life coach. Business owners can become isolated in their own worlds, shackled with their many problems. By talking out issues with others the owner can reap beneficial advice.

How to overcome

It is imperative to achieve early diagnosis of burnout. The earlier the diagnosis, the sooner the business owner can overcome it and the less damage is done to the business.


Identification of the cause of the burnout is the first step to overcoming it. Once it has been identified take steps to remedy it.

Document what causes stress in the business. Move toward removal of the stress. This may entail delegating some job responsibilities to others, taking some time off, or hiring additional staff.

Proper rest is a must.

Balanced diet goes hand in hand with the rest and exercise.

Exercise will help with the physical and in turn with the stress levels. Exercise helps clear the mind.

Re-evaluate the goals of the business and the owner. When the business was started, the owner may have established a goal. It may be time to reevaluate that goal to see if it is still appropriate or whether it is still in line with the goals of the owner.

Remove negative thoughts. Infuse positive thoughts into daily activities.

So whether you are burned out or feel burnout is on the horizon, focus on the problem and it can be overcome.

(Contact Carlee McCullough, Esq., at 5308 Cottonwood Road, Suite 1A, Memphis, TN 38118, or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

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