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How to deal with small business burnout

Small business burnout is something that no one tells you about when you first start your business. Everyone is enthusiastic in the beginning, but many small business owners eventually find themselves losing motivation and the energy that they had in the beginning. Let’s explore this phenomenon and some strategies to help you get over it and back on track with creating your dreams.

What is small business burnout?

It’s normal to experience it throughout your small business journey. It’s possible to love your business and still experience burnout at the same time. The circumstances that lead to burnout are many, but they all have a few symptoms in common.

What are the symptoms of small business burnout?

The first step is to recognise the symptoms. Here are 6 common signs that you may be experiencing small business burnout.

  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Lack of motivation
  • Procrastination
  • Little passion or excitement for weekdays
  • Lack of creativity or enthusiasm
  • Clashing with colleagues 

10 ways to avoid small business burnout

The good news is that there are ways that you can avoid burnout, or if you have it already, get back on the road to small business success.

1. Prioritise

The first thing you need to do is set priorities. As a small business owner, everything is on your shoulders, or at least you feel like it is. Many productivity gurus will tell you to decide on one priority to get done each day. You can allow yourself up to three priorities, but you must decide which one is the most important. This will allow you to have focus and separate high priority from lower priority tasks.


Organisation follows priority setting. It is easy to look at the entire to-do list and want to see it all gone at once, but it’s just not feasible nor realistic. Instead, divide your project into phases and small tasks that go along with each phase. Sometimes seeing it as a series of small, achievable steps can free you from overwhelming feelings and allow great productivity.

3. Allocate free time and work time

Free time and downtime are also a priority. Our brains are not machines and are not built to run 24/7. They are designed to have work periods and rest periods, and this means time away from work physically and mentally. Try setting alarms in your phone to remind yourself to rest after a certain point in the day.

4. Delegate or outsource

Small business owners need to learn to delegate or outsource certain tasks. This frees up your time so that you can spend more time being an effective leader for your business.

5. Take holidays and breaks

This goes along with allocating free time. Everyone needs a holiday and time to reset the mind and body. You’ll find that you’re much more productive when you return and you and your family will be all the better for it.

6. Identify and avoid stress triggers

Knowing what causes you stress is the first step to handling these situations when they arise. If there’s a certain situation or person that makes you feel stressed, the best thing you can do is to recognise it and plan a coping strategy to help you get through it the next time.

7. Say no

Knowing when to say no is the simplest way to avoid burnout. It’s a skill that you should learn to practice starting if you want to maintain a healthy work and life balance.

8. Celebrate your achievements

Sometimes, it is easy to get caught up in all of the things we haven’t done yet and to over analyse our failures but not our successes. It’s important to take time to reflect and celebrate your achievements and reflect on your progress

9. Bond with colleagues

The key to building a great team is to plan bonding activities outside of work with your teammates. Friendships mean a great deal when it comes to looking forward to going to work and having a support system when you get there.

10.Don’t forget your wellbeing

Personal wellbeing is usually the first thing to go out the window when you are busy. The power of a good nights rest coupled with healthy food and regular fitness activities can really help to avoid burnout.  

Now you know what burnout looks like and some of the ways that you can prevent it. Taking care of yourself both physically and mentally should be a priority on your agenda every day. Taking time for yourself is the best way to keep the creativity flowing and be the most productive during your working time.

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