Being a business owner means that sometimes you will have to work long hours, and you will likely have to perform more roles than just CEO in your business. While being an entrepreneur is exciting, the extra work and long hours are not fun for many! This work ethic can be sustainable for a while but can quickly lead to burnout.
According to the APA Dictionary of Psychology, burnout is “physical, emotional or mental exhaustion, accompanied by decreased motivation, lowered performance and negative attitudes towards oneself and others.”
Burnout usually creeps up quickly, and it can be tough to turn around once it happens. The best way to avoid burnout is to have boundaries with yourself, your team, and your clients. Those boundaries will help you avoid the overwhelm that leads to that burnt-out feeling.
Signs of Burnout
Burnout is not just needing a few days off or leaving work early on Friday. Burnout is an all-encompassing feeling that can grind your business to a halt. Some common signs of burnout are:
- Feelings of complete energy depletion, exhaustion, and fatigue
- Distancing yourself mentally from your business and your work
- Feeling very negative about your work and the future of your business
- Reduced efficacy of your efforts in the business
How Lack of Boundaries Leads to Burnout
When you started your business, you were probably very excited, and it was a thrill to put in long hours and reach your goals. The stakes were high, and you were excited to see your business idea come to life! You put in the long hours, are overly available to clients, and do whatever it takes to keep the business moving forward.
This phase of business is exciting but not sustainable. Being available 24/7 is going to lead you to massive burnout. A new business can become engrossing, and it’s easy for boundaries between your time and your clients to become very blurry.
If you are currently in this phase, we recommend you start setting boundaries immediately! Then you can avoid burnout altogether. If you have been in business for a while, you might be in burnout now or headed there. No matter where you are, get a few boundaries in place today and watch how it changes your mentality toward your business and your work.
Here are some examples of boundaries you can set for yourself and your clients.
Boundaries to Set With Yourself
- Setting a schedule and sticking to it. This means planning a start and end time for your day and stepping away from work. It also might mean designating days off every single week to recharge.
- Say no! It can feel like you might be leaving opportunities on the table when you say no, but the most successful people are laser-focused and do not take on tasks or obligations that deter them from their goals.
- Passing up new client work if you are at capacity. Some businesses will take on any client that comes along because it is money! In reality, taking on a client when you do not have the capacity to do the work will quickly accelerate burnout. It also may result in your business delivering subpar work.
- Being aware of overscheduling your time. If you have a calendar that is just filled with back-to-back meetings, that can be a fast track to exhaustion. Make sure you have a schedule that serves you, not a schedule that suits others to your detriment.
- As a business owner, you will get a lot of invites for speaking opportunities, and people will ask to pick your brain. There will be times that these opportunities will be worth taking, but they are not all beneficial. Make sure that anything you give your time to serves your goals.
Boundaries to Set with Clients
- Create clear expectations from the beginning! You set the tone with your clients when they start talking with you. Communicate all the boundaries you want them to respect. This could be how you communicate when they can expect to receive a response and how long those responses might take to receive. Spell these boundaries out in your contracts.
- Avoid scope creep with your clients by outlining the deliverables of your work and communicating when they are requesting something that is outside of that description. Nothing will burn you out faster than taking on additional work you are not being paid to do. It also sets a bad precedent with your clients to allow them to request whatever they want at any time.
- As we mentioned above, do not take on more work than you can handle. This included additional work with current clients. If you cannot handle it based on your capacity, say no. Remember that you need time to serve your clients AND run your business, so do not max out your time with client work.
- Unless you are saving lives, most things are not life and death. Keep the work you do in perspective! A client emergency is usually not a true emergency, and you do not have to treat it as such.
Business owners without boundaries will end up feeling exhausted, can check out of their day-to-day obligations, and in the long run burnout can slow business success. If you have a team, it can make them feel like there is no structure and that your management style is more chaotic than they like for a work environment. Entrepreneurs are notorious for having little to no boundaries because they push for a vision they are passionate about and want to achieve. Boundaries help give you the space and energy needed to show up as the best in your industry.
If you are not used to boundaries, it can feel unnatural to start communicating new boundaries to your team and clients. Remember that your boundaries make you a better business owner, team leader, and happier person! As the leader of your business, it falls on your shoulders to create an environment that encourages communicating boundaries!
If you would like to chat more about how to set boundaries or know that one of your burnout areas is your business finances, let’s chat! Set up your complimentary discovery call today; I would love to talk more about how to move your business forward and avoid burnout.