Setting up and running your own business is the ultimate dream for many people. It is a chance to be in complete control of your own career, to shape your professional development and to build something you can really be proud of. It can be incredibly rewarding – but it can also be hugely stressful at times. When you are run your own business, you can sometimes feel as if there is no one to tell you to take a break, no one to offer you guidance, and no one to help you to manage your workload.
Here are some thoughts on how to avoid burnout as a small business owner, and how to enjoy being your own boss.
It is one of the things that full time employees take for granted (along with paid holidays). Training and development should be a central part of what most established businesses will offer their own people – but unfortunately it can be one of those areas that those who run their own businesses overlook.
Too often, small business owners will simply try and learn on the job, believing that they can’t afford to take the time or the money out of their day-to-day lives. However, I believe you can, and you must, for your own professional well-being. So, book a day’s training in something that interests you, and get out of the office for a while to take some time to develop yourself.
Talking of getting out of the office, we can’t overstate the importance of networking for those of us running small businesses. Beyond the obvious benefits of increasing your potential number of contacts, it is also an invaluable way to get some perspective on your own business. Done right, networking shouldn’t just be about selling – it should be about developing mutually beneficial relationships.
Networking is about getting out there and meeting people who work in your industry who share your interests and passions, and who may have experienced many of the pressures and challenges that you are now facing. So, networking isn’t just about getting new business – it is also about developing and nurturing a group of people who can, ultimately, help each other in many different ways.
Know when you need to grow your own team
It is one of the trickiest aspects of growing your own business – at what point do you decide to take on someone else to help you out? It can be a crucial and complex decision, but it can have huge implications. Done right, it can rapidly accelerate the operation you’re running, bringing in new business and transforming your company. Get it wrong however and it can be costly, both in terms of time and money, wasted on training or recruiting the wrong person at the wrong time.
So how do you know when to post that job ad online? Well, for me and my team, it comes down to value. Where is the majority of your time best spent? Does the current arrangement fit with that? And what value would a new person bring to your business? Making this decision at the right time, and bringing the right person in, can take a huge amount of pressure off you, and take your business to the next level.
Get a mentor (and mentor someone yourself)
Running your own business, whether as a sole trader or as the head of a small team, can feel like a lonely struggle sometimes. I’ve already addressed a few ways that you can combat this, but we would also strongly recommend another – mentoring. Obviously, having an experienced mentor can be a real source of support, professionally and even emotionally. By talking regularly to someone else who shares your passion you can test new ideas or discuss concerns that might otherwise go by the wayside.
But there is also a huge amount of benefit to being a mentor yourself. It is a chance to pass on your expertise, to feel like you have a purpose above and beyond the daily challenge of running your own company, and it can be an opportunity to hear a fresh perspective on an industry that you may be getting tired of.
Finally, I can’t stress enough the importance of just giving yourself a break. Whether that is going for a walk, booking a few days holiday or just scheduling in some time to meet a friend for lunch, it is absolutely crucial that you force yourself to strike a balance between work and life. Because as your own boss, if you don’t, nobody else will.