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5 Burnout Warning Signs (And How To Respond)

Burnout isn’t productive or pleasant, so monitor it proactively.

Jayson Demers

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As entrepreneurs, most of us are rational optimists; we believe in our businesses, we believe in our teams, and despite occasional crises of confidence, we believe we’re the right ones to lead our organisations to success.

You, too, probably make such assumptions about who you are and how well you function in your entrepreneurial role. But one of the easiest assumptions to make is also one of the most frequently violated: The assumption that you’ll always remain enthusiastic and energised about your role.

Entrepreneurial burnout

The truth is, entrepreneurial burnout is a real and common phenomenon. Through some combination of working too hard, underestimating stress or failing to have an outlet, many entrepreneurs eventually get to the point where they dread their jobs and can’t stand the thought of continuing.

Related: Preventing Start-up Burnout

It’s not a fun position to be in, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, burnout creeps up on you when you aren’t paying attention, expanding through innocuous events and repetitive strains. So, how can you take notice and counteract burnout when it’s still developing?

Fighting burnout starts with recognising and addressing these five important warning signs:

1. You aren’t excited to come to work

Nobody is excited to come to work every single day, but those of us with good jobs at least look forward to coming to work regularly. There are ups and downs, but consistently, there’s a positive association with coming to work.

This trend is even more powerful for entrepreneurs – in fact, most new business owners are thrilled to get out of bed and continue building their dreams.

If, however, you find yourself consistently unenthusiastic about going to work – you have trouble getting up in the morning, or you dread the idea of coming to the office – that’s a sign that you’re headed for burnout. Try to find new reasons to be excited about work, or make a change, to relieve yourself of the more negative qualities of the workplace.

2. You’re irritable with your teammates, partners or clients

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You built this company, and you built this team. You chose the teammates, employees, partners and clients you’re working with, so why are you consistently irritated with them? You’re never going to get along with everybody all the time, but if you find yourself alarmingly quick to anger, or you become frustrated with others, you could be projecting your frustrations onto the people around you.

Ask yourself if these people are truly doing anything wrong; if they are, give constructive feedback, and if they aren’t, reset your expectations and try to isolate what’s really making you feel this way.

Related: 5 Ways to Get Unstuck in the Face of Creative Burnout

3. You’re physically and mentally exhausted

This is a classic sign of burnout, so don’t ignore it. Many entrepreneurs will regularly push themselves to the brink of exhaustion due to their internal entrepreneurial engine, but if you feel you’ve pushed too much, and too consistently, you’re headed down the wrong path.

You may even start experiencing physical symptoms like headaches, backaches or other ailments.

Take some time away from work to take care of yourself; eat healthier, exercise more and get enough sleep every night. The work can be delegated, or it can wait.

4. You’re disillusioned or cynical about your business

Most entrepreneurs are grounded optimists. Feeling overwhelmed by pessimism or feelings of disillusionment is not necessarily a sign that your business is going downhill – in fact, it’s usually a manifestation of your internal feelings.

If you’ve worked too hard for too little reward, or if your early expectations haven’t been met, it’s easy to feel like hope is lost or that your business is objectively less capable of future success. Don’t let this bring you down; take a step back and do some honest, objective evaluation. Get a third-party perspective so you aren’t corrupted by your own biases.

5. You feel detached or ineffectual

This is the hallmark of burnout: You go into work and still do things, but you feel strangely alienated or detached; it’s almost like an out-of-body experience. You may also feel like all of your tasks and projects are worthless, or at least not worth your time.

These feelings of detachment and ineffectualness tend to manifest after prolonged periods of repetition combined with unmet expectations. There’s no easy way to compensate, but you can try to focus more on the work that does lead to a result, or think back to the motivations that led you to start the business in the first place, and prioritise those in your daily regimen.

Related: Arianna Huffington’s Recipe for Success: Avoid Burnout

Most people will experience burnout at some point during their lives, in a career, hobby or other institution. It’s normal and common, though it’s not exactly healthy.

When you get to the final stages of burnout, that’s not a sign that you weren’t meant to do this, and it’s not a sign of failure.

Instead, it’s a sign that you poured too much of yourself into a venture, and you can almost take that as a point of pride. Still, burnout isn’t productive or pleasant, so monitor it proactively, and take steps to prevent it.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Jayson DeMers is the founder & CEO of AudienceBloom, a content marketing agency, as well as EmailAnalytics, an email productivity monitoring app for Gmail and G suite. Contact him on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Work Life Balance

How To Tell When It’s Time To Quit And Move On

Owning your own business is always a wonderful dream. The reality isn’t always so wonderful.

John Boitnott

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Becoming an entrepreneur, owning your own business, setting your own hours, being the boss … for many of us, it’s a dream come true. At the same time, though, many business owners wake up one day and wonder, “How did I get here? And how can I get out?”

People strongly attracted to the idea of creating and growing a small business of their own one day probably can’t imagine feeling a pervasive need to flee from that business. Some balk at the mere suggestion that sometimes quitting a business might be the right thing to do.

It’s wise to have an exit strategy in place, and you also must know when it’s time to implement it. While the right answer in any individual case will vary, there are some common circumstances in which leaving or shutting down a business you’ve built might be the prudent course of action.

1. You’re so busy that if you take time off things start to fall apart

Starting a business of your own requires a lot of hard work and long, gruelling hours. However, if you’re still pulling all-nighters and working straight through the weekend five years later, that’s not a good thing.

Before you throw in the towel, explore ways to get your life back in balance. Delegate responsibilities to trustworthy employees, and train them well. However, if you’ve tried this approach without success, it might be time to consider selling the business and moving on to the next dream.

Related: 9 Reasons To Quit Your Job As Soon As You Can

2. You’re experiencing more frequent health issues and stress

For all our strength and adaptability, human beings can be fragile. Our bodies tend to suffer for our persistence and drive. Additionally, stress makes entrepreneurs even more susceptible to mental illnesses such as depression.

If you’re constantly feeling run down, exhausted or ill on a regular basis, it could be your body’s way of signalling to you that it’s time to lighten that load, or drop it altogether.

Make an appointment with your doctor first to take care of your mind and body. Then, give some serious thought to cutting back on your duties, phasing yourself out of the CEO position, or selling the business altogether.

3. You constantly need new customers and it’s hard to hang on to existing ones

If your business is constantly engaged in a hunt to convert more first-time buyers, and simultaneously failing to keep past and current ones satisfied, your business is in danger. Paying more attention to marketing and customer service departments can alleviate these issues.

However, if you’ve tried these approaches without success, it may be time to call it a day altogether. The worst response is to throw good money after bad in a futile effort to plug the leak. With the experience you’ve gained, you may now be in a much better position to make a new venture a long-term success.

Related: 10 Things You Must Do Before Quitting Your Job To Start Your Company

4. You have to force yourself out of bed in the mornings

Everyone has those mornings where nothing sounds better than spending the day on the couch with Netflix and a pint of ice cream. That’s a sign that you’re human and maybe you need a break.

If you’re experiencing a string of those kinds of days, though, that’s a sign that something much bigger is at stake. It’s time to examine why you’re continuing to pursue something that no longer makes you happy or fulfils you.

Bad days will come and go, but when that’s all you seem to have, it could be time to move on.

5. Your business runs fine in your absence – and you actually prefer time off

When your business runs like clockwork, whether you’re there or not, you know you’ve done your job well. You’ve built a sustainable business. However, just because you succeeded at something, that doesn’t mean you absolutely must continue to keep doing it indefinitely.

If your business gets along just fine without you, and you find yourself looking outside your company for new challenges and opportunities, it might be a good time to start thinking about exiting altogether. In doing so, you’re following the time-honoured path of successful entrepreneurs everywhere.

Related: Branson: Know When To Quit Your Day Job

Takeaways

Obviously you don’t want to take the decision to exit your business lightly. It’s as serious a decision as starting a business in the first place. However, by the same token, don’t dismiss the idea altogether if you’re experiencing one or more of the above circumstances.

Create a workable exit plan that takes into consideration not just your own interests but also your business and its employees. Then you can start thinking about what’s next.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Work Life Balance

Crushing It? More Like Crushing Me. How One Missed Flight Stopped Me From Burning Out

Constant travel, trade shows, 5 a.m. starts, 16-hour days and late-night drinks with partners had left me spent.

Dave Carruthers

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Tech start-ups have a storied culture of breakneck-paced work and personal sacrifices. The industry is led by individuals who have proudly made their work their life, whatever the cost. The frantic energy of this lifestyle is exciting, and the image of it is alluring. But, make no mistake, it’s also unrealistic and dangerous.

In 2013, I launched a video feedback technology company, Voxpopme. We’ve quickly scaled to employ 50 people across three continents, raising millions from angel investors and VCs. We’ve also accumulated a client list including many Fortune 500 brands. On the exterior, everything looked great. But, in July, after over 45 solid days on the road, the happy accident of a missed flight reminded me of just how much I was missing by keeping this schedule.

The day before I needed to be in Nashville, Tenn., for a client meeting, followed immediately by two weeks of travel in the U.K., I missed my flight to London. Looking at my laptop to re-book, I felt overwhelmed and was overcome with a need to stop, to take a break, to escape. I had already worked through the majority of a family vacation just a few weeks earlier. Constant travel, trade shows, 5 a.m. starts, 16-hour days and late-night drinks with partners had left me spent. After thriving on the adrenaline of constant work for months, something had changed. I was absolutely dreading it. I just wanted to be at home. I missed my wife, my kids, even just sleeping in my own bed.

I canceled the rest of my trip and, after returning home, I had a period of intense reflection where I learned a lot about myself, and about the unforgiving pressure that entrepreneurship can cause. Fortunately, this learning experience only came at the cost of a plane ticket. But, I’d like to share the lessons learned. Others in my shoes have pushed themselves past where they should and paid a higher price.

ceo-superheroes

Lesson 1: There are no CEO superheroes

I’ve come to realise the impossibility of becoming one of those romanticised, non-sleeping startup CEO geniuses. This class of person did not exist in the first place.

The myth of the superhero-CEO is common because it serves a potent marketing goal. As the Wall Street Journal noted in June, “Powerful founder-CEOs who were once lauded for flouting convention are facing a new reality: They aren’t superheroes, after all. Treating them as if they were has been bad for their companies and investors alike.”

The myth’s danger, as the Journal article states, is because it is the root of the misplaced confidence in companies like Theranos, where Elizabeth Holmes’s purported genius was used to silence the company’s critics. This myth gave former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick too much leeway for malfeasance, encouraged by the idea that he was somehow irreplaceable.

For upstart CEOs like myself, this is an unhealthy example to follow. Rejecting needs like sleep and family time left me burnt out. I didn’t see it coming because I had on blinders, in pursuit of this unattainable image.

Lesson 2: When you are your business, your health is your business’s

Re-grouping in Utah, I sat down with one of my mentors, Lonnie Mayne. He had seen this coming. He said I had been maintaining a schedule that was bad for relationships, my family and – yes – bad for business. Having one person as the lynchpin of an entire company is unhealthy for all involved.

Ariana Huffington has recently expanded her career to study this phenomenon, promoting a restful-but-successful lifestyle in the wake of personal tolls that came with running The Huffington Post. After seeing Elon Musk humblebrag on TV about his lifestyle of 100-plus hour workdays, she wrote him an open letter asking him to see the error of his ways.

Quoting a critical passage: “After 17-19 hours without sleep, we begin to experience levels of cognitive impairment equivalent to a blood alcohol level of .05 percent, just under the threshold for being legally drunk. No business leader would hire people who came to work drunk, so don’t model that behaviour for your employees.”

The start-up world is one where one bad decision can undo thousands of man-hours of hard work. Burning the candle at both ends drastically increases the odds of this happening.

writing

Lesson 3: Take what you love and write it down

In the midst of this regroup, I told my mentor Mayne about the guilt I felt when I wasn’t working. Often, I’d sit down to watch a football match but internally beat myself up for not focusing on my enormous to-do list. If I wasn’t working, I wasn’t happy.

In response to my company’s to-do list, Mayne suggested developing one of my own. We started by writing a list of everything that mattered to me: Friends, family, fitness, health, watching sports, snowboarding. To ensure balance, we broke them down into my primary focus for that month and things that were important and needed attention but were not a top priority. I shared this with my wife and our executive team so they understood where my focus was.

Finally, I weighed my personal list against my company’s and made some real concessions to ensure I would be able to prioritise both. I completely restructured my schedule for the rest of the year, switching from 80:20 travel to 20:80, and committing to being more present with my family and using my time more effectively to lead the business.

This ties back to Lesson 2, as a part of this involved delegating some areas of the business to my team. Rather than worry about keeping up with everything as the company grows, I’m proud knowing that I’ve put together a team that is capable of stepping in to share the burden.

There comes a point in a company’s growth where it’s no longer possible to maintain the “start-up grind” that was once necessary for survival. This isn’t a negative! This is a sign things are moving in the right direction.

Lesson 4: You’re not alone

Finally, I decided to write about this experience on LinkedIn. Initially, I was worried: What would my team think, how would existing and prospective investors react … would people think I was weak?

I couldn’t have been further from the mark.

My inbox was flooded with messages of support. I even had a VC email me to share that he had realised this lesson too late at his startup and had paid a heavy personal price as a result. Two months on, I’m more productive than ever before. I have more energy and a much clearer vision for the company. All while working fewer hours, focusing my time in the right place and not neglecting the people most important to me. Ultimately, I’ve managed to find a balance and make sure that I’m winning without losing.

If my story feels like yours, take a moment to evaluate your next three months and focus on the things that really matter. Odds are, you’ve already surrounded yourself with people who have the ability and know-how to deliver the things you thought too important to let go. Trust them to help your company achieve sustainable growth and watch yourself grow as a result.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Work Life Balance

3 Ways To Balance Your Business, Family And Everything Else

You can do it all (or at least make it easier to do everything you enjoy) with these smart tips from a successful entrepreneur.

Manny Khoshbin

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The following excerpt is from Manny Khoshbin’s book Driven: The Never-Give-Up Roadmap to Massive Success.

Balancing your life is like one of those acrobatic acts where people are standing on top of one another balancing themselves — each person represents an important part of your life. You want to keep them all up there without anyone falling. Not so easy, is it?

To really appreciate and enjoy what you have, balancing the many aspects of your life is essential, but many people aren’t very good at it. I was one of those people in my first marriage. I was wrapped up in my business and not spending enough time and energy on my marriage. In the end, the marriage blew up.

I admit, it’s hard to say no to business when it comes knocking at your door, especially when you’re selling real estate and a qualified buyer comes along. However, if you don’t know when to put the brakes on and slow down, you may find yourself out of control and missing out on a lot of your life.

Many people get a taste of success and they want to scale it, so they just dive into it 24/7. The next thing they know, 10 years have gone by and they’ve built a huge empire but lost sight of everything else. They realise that their spouse is now their ex, their kids are now teenagers, other family members, as well as friends, have moved on, and they’ve missed so much of their personal life that not even money can buy it back.

So, how do you balance work, family and everything else? For one thing, you need to accept that you have to make many compromises, have a positive attitude and know that it can be done.

Balancing businesses

business-balance

Besides running my own business, Leyla and I are partners in her business. Warning: This type of arrangement will not work for all couples, but it can work well, provided you clarify your positions and respect each other’s roles.

The trick is knowing how to combine, and then separate, business and marriage. For example, Leyla and I sometimes have to go to Los Angeles for meetings or to an expo or a beauty show in Las Vegas. We take the opportunity to make a full weekend out of it, working at the event and then going out on the town.

At home, we have date nights at least once a week, even if all we do is grab a quick dinner and then come back home. It’s important to break the routine and put business aside. On weekends, Leyla’s business is closed and I don’t work, and we spend time with our kids. We try to make time for each of our top priorities: our family, each other and our work.

Unfortunately, when you’re working together and discussing, or sometimes arguing, about business during the day, it’s difficult to switch gears when you get home and shift into husband-and-wife mode. We try to be careful to stop ourselves without letting the day spill over into our personal life together.

I’ll admit, however, that it does take some practice, learning how to turn the switch off before you leave the office to go home. But in time it gets easier. You need to set some rules together, then make sure you’re both on board with those rules.

Related: 6 Secrets Smart Leaders Employ To Achieve Work-Life Balance

Hobbies and passions: cars and cigars

You also need time for your hobbies. Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve loved exotic cars. I bought my first exotic car in 1992, a Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo. Fast-forward 10 years, and I had started falling in love with Ferraris as well as Porsches. I have continued collecting cars, and I now have 15 cars.

Even though they’re a hobby, I have an entrepreneurial spirit when it comes to my passion for cars. In fact, I view them in a similar way that I do great pieces of property, though I’d prefer to keep them than sell to the highest bidder. To me, they’re like works of art that I view as investments, knowing that they’re of great value.

Cars aren’t my only passion, though. It’s important to have some passions that you can enjoy away from work, from family and from everything else. You also want some alone time. For example, I also own a cigar lounge (www.CubanoRoom.com) where I can go to relax by myself or meet another successful member while smoking a fine cigar.

I treat my passions like a business because that’s who I am — I enjoy them and also make money – but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you enjoy bicycling, you don’t have to go and open a bicycle store. You can simply find a group of riders, do some travelling and have fun.

It’s important to fit some alone time into your busy balancing act. We all need some moments when we escape from everyone and everything. The best thing to do is figure out what makes you happy and balance the hustle of your busy life with your own passion.

Related: How To Work 10 Hours Less Each Week

Extended family

Family time is so important to me, both as a father and as a member of an extended family. Besides spending time with Leyla and my children, I see my parents often. I bought them a ranch about 90 miles away from Newport Beach back in 2004. Now they visit us every Friday or Saturday – we have a barbecue and play backgammon or cards.

We also see Leyla’s mom and sister often. Her mom still works as a registered nurse and lives in Beverly Hills. Leyla’s sister is nearby in San Diego where she works for a company called Houzz, an online community for home construction, landscape design, home improvement, repairs and so forth.

Leyla and I both recognise the importance of having our extended family nearby and making time to spend together. Otherwise, time goes by quickly, and you suddenly realise that it’s been years since you spent some quality time together.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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