BURNOUT is not a buzzword. It’s REAL and it’s BRUTAL.
And it’s far too common amongst female entrepreneurs. 😔
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in business for a short time or a long time, burnout doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere, even more than once.
I was almost 2 years into my first business the first time it happened to me. (If you don’t know, I owned and operated a wedding blog for 7 years before starting TPZ in 2017.)
And even though I didn’t see it coming, I should have.
You see, back then, I had no boundaries, no goals, no routines, no schedule, no systems, and no strategy. I was working ALL HOURS of the day and night, all week and weekend long. I said YES to anything and everything that came my way. I went to bed with my laptop, I NEVER took time off, I blogged SEVEN days a week, I checked social media obsessively, and I answered emails when I should have been sleeping. 🤯
When I finally hit the burnout brick wall, it knocked me FLAT on my back. And it took a LONG time before I was back on my feet and even longer for my brain to function again.
But the worst part about experiencing business burnout was that NO ONE was talking about it.
Correction, people were talking AD NAUSEAM about self-care and how journaling, bubble baths, and morning meditation were KEY to keeping burnout at bay.
But when I was at my lowest, quite honestly… those things were bullshit.
I’m not saying journaling, bubble baths, and morning meditation are bad, but they’re kind of superficial remedies for a problem that runs much deeper.
(This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase using these links.)
WHY FEMALE ENTREPRENEURS EXPERIENCE BURNOUT AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
I’ve been in the online business world for 12 years now and I’ve seen the backend of many businesses. And let me tell you something… it’s NOT as pretty as Instagram makes it out to be.
The cold, hard, honest truth is that a business that looks SUCCESSFUL on the outside is not always a THRIVING business on the inside.
And even though we’re all individuals running different kinds of businesses in our own unique ways, we ALL run into the same pitfalls that cause us stress, overwhelm, and burnout to varying degrees.
And while journaling, bubble baths, and morning meditation are nice and all, they aren’t the self-care your business really needs.
Avoiding or healing business burnout is not a simple thing and it definitely doesn’t happen overnight. It requires work, real work… but NOT the hustle kind (that’s part of what got you into this mess in the first place). It requires hard work and smart work combined.
Building a burnout-free business requires you to CHANGE the way you look at your life and your business and how they intertwine. It means doing business differently, which means running your business differently behind-the-scenes.
If you’re ready to learn about what it REALLY takes to build (and keep) a burnout-free business, then keep right on reading!!
YOU HAVE TO BOLDLY DEFINE YOUR PRIORITIES AND SET PROTECTIVE BOUNDARIES
Normally, when I ask people what their priorities are, they rattle off things like “my family, my business, my friends” without much thought… because that’s the standard response.
The problem is “my family, my business, my friends” is MUCH too general and vague.
And when your priorities are too general and vague, you don’t end up sticking to or protecting those priorities as FIERCELY as you could or should. The lines end up blurred and wobbly instead of solid and sturdy. And when that happens, you end up stretched too thin, stressed out, overwhelmed, running around with your hair on fire, on the way to burnout.
But the whole point of today’s blog post is to help you AVOID those feelings and outcomes at all costs. So I’m going to share one of my favorite analogies I’ve ever come up with (that I usually only share with my coaching clients)…
Right now, today, start thinking of your PRIORITIES as your kingdom or your castle.
And what do you put AROUND a kingdom or castle to protect it? KNIGHTS!! Your knights are your BOUNDARIES aka what you put around your priorities to protect them against all enemies (and distractions).
Once you know what your priorities are and WHY they’re important to you, it will be EASY to put boundaries in place to protect them.
Bonus Tip: STOP thinking of boundaries as RESTRICTIONS. Think of them as TOOLS. Use these tools to EMPOWER you to do what you love most. Use them to do life and business on YOUR terms!! This is YOUR business and YOUR life after all and YOU get to make the rules!!
Related Post: Have You Set Business Boundaries? Why You Need to Be!!
YOU HAVE TO SAY NO MORE THAN YOU SAY YES
NO happens to be my favorite word in the English language, but it wasn’t always.
For far too long, I said YES to anything and everything that came my way. It didn’t matter if it didn’t make sense for my business or wasn’t quite the right fit. It didn’t matter if it filled me with panic or dread. It didn’t matter if the timeline or deadline was unreasonable or that I didn’t technically have room on my schedule. I said YES to EVERYTHING!!
And oh, how I WISH I hadn’t!!
These days, I think carefully about each and every opportunity I’m presented with. I look over the information, I ask a bunch of questions, I weigh the options, I consider the benefits, I check my schedule, and sometimes, I even make a pros and cons list.
But at the end of the day, if I’m not EXCITED to say yes, if the opportunity doesn’t light me up inside or give me butterflies, I say NO. N-O. Not today. Not now. Maybe not ever.
Saying no more than you say yes is actually one of the biggest and best things you can do for your life and business!! Because saying NO to one thing gives you the ability to say YES to something else!!
Bonus Tip: No is a full sentence. One that doesn’t require you to follow-up or explain why.
YOU HAVE TO CLEARLY DEFINE YOUR WORK TIME AND PERSONAL TIME
A lot of people say work/life balance doesn’t exist or that it’s unattainable, but I don’t think that’s true. I believe we ALL can find balance with our work AND our life if we PERSONALLY define what work/life balance looks like for us.
Balance isn’t something you just happen to find, it’s something you have to CREATE.
Work/Life balance can, should, and will look different for everyone. YOU have to define what it looks like for you, what it means to you, and then set yourself up to achieve it consistently!!
Setting office hours (and sticking to them LIKE GLUE) is one of the greatest steps toward work/life balance you will probably ever take. It means you’re SERIOUS about owning your work time AND protecting your personal time. And when you’re serious about your work time, others will be serious about your work time, too. It’s a win-win!!
Plus, having work hours and off hours means both your business and your life get the time and attention that they so deserve!!
Bonus Tip: Office hours will also help you be more productive and focused. When you know your cut-off time is X, you’ll be more inclined to make the best use of your working time (and less susceptible to distractions to boot)!!
YOU HAVE TO WORK ON YOUR BUSINESS, NOT JUST IN YOUR BUSINESS
The second time I hit burnout wasn’t as bad as the first time (thank goodness 🙏🏻).
It didn’t knock me flat on my back, but it DID sneak up on me!! It happened shortly after I started taking on coaching clients a year after I launched The Productivity Zone.
I took on too many clients at once and then spent MONTHS pouring EVERYTHING I had into them. I didn’t even realize I’d let my own business fall to the wayside until their time with me was over and I was left staring at all of the things I’d let fall through the cracks (including my marketing because I had no new clients left to work with).
I had spent ALL of my time and energy making sure my clients were taken care of and that their businesses were succeeding, but completely neglected myself and my own business in the process.
At first, I was too exhausted (and disappointed in myself) to do anything about it, so I took some time off to rest and get my life in order. When I felt like I had my ish together again, I returned to my business and took back control!!
The moral of this story is that it’s not enough to just work IN your business. We THINK it is because working IN our business means we’re working on money-making tasks or the tasks that put actual money in the bank like doing coaching calls or completing client projects. But you also have to work ON your business on needle-moving tasks aka the tasks that drive growth and sustainability in your business like big-picture planning and marketing.
Bonus Tip: The needle-moving tasks are what brings in those money-making tasks, so you HAVE to make time for BOTH!!
YOU HAVE TO WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER
We hear this phrase a lot, but do we know what it actually means or what it even looks like?!
While there are many, many things you can do in your life and business that live up to the working smarter, not harder concept, for me, it boils down to just four things:
- Simplify everything so you know you won’t waste time on anything.
- Organize everything so you know you can find everything.
- Systemize everything so you know how to do everything.
- Schedule everything so you know you have time for everything.
I believe in working smarter, not harder more than anything else, which is why I live my life and run my business by these four mottos.
Bonus Tip: Templates are God’s gift to small business owners and another great example of how you can work smarter, not harder in your business. Use templates as tools to save you time and so that you don’t have to start from scratch or recreate the wheel every time!!
YOU HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF THE HUMAN BEING BEHIND THE BUSINESS
There’s this runaway belief that in order to have a successful business, you have to work on it every waking hour of every day. And that you need to sacrifice your sleep, your family, and your life for your business. But that’s just not true.
All work and no play or sleep do not make you an entrepreneur. Working all of the time does not make you successful. It makes you tired, cranky, and miserable.
Every truly successful entrepreneur knows that looking after YOURSELF is the key to your business succeeding long term. They know that if they don’t work on themselves or look after themselves, their businesses won’t work anymore.
Hustling and grinding will get you places, sure. But will they get you to the RIGHT places? The answer is NO. Because, after a while, hustling isn’t fun anymore. It’s exhausting and will lead you straight to burnout.
Taking care of yourself IS taking care of your business because, in many ways, YOU are your business, and YOUR BUSINESS is you (especially if you’re a solopreneur).
Bonus Tip: In order to keep your business going for years to come, you MUST make taking care of yourself a priority just like you make business tasks a priority. Make time for yourself just like you would your clients and don’t cancel for anything less than an emergency.
YOU HAVE TO HOLD ON TO YOUR VERSION OF SUCCESS
During the Asana Assistant launch last year, I did something radical. Something I had never done before. I focused on MY OWN version of success, rather than somebody else’s, and it made ALL THE DIFFERENCE in the world!!
I’ve been in business for 12 years now and it only finally just sunk in that HER business is not MY business and HER version of success is not MY version of success.
We’ve all seen those business owners on social media talking about their five, six, and seven-figure launches… and we’ve all felt those pangs of jealousy and deep-seated feelings of failure immediately after a launch because we didn’t get the same results as she did.
I for one DID NOT want to feel like that after launching a product that I was insanely proud of and excited about. So I kicked those pipe dreams of making five, six, or even seven-figures during a launch to the curb and set REALISTIC goals (based on MY business, MY reach, and MY audience) instead.
I used my Good, Better, Best Goal Setting Method to set realistic goals that not only MADE SENSE but that I would be ECSTATIC to hit. I also set a Reach Goal that I thought would be really fun and awesome to hit, but didn’t have high expectations of hitting.
And instead of feeling like a failure after my launch because I didn’t make as much as someone else, I CELEBRATED the fact that I CRUSHED my Good, Better, Best Goals, and even SURPASSED my Reach Goal!!
One of the reasons female entrepreneurs experience business burnout is because they’re letting someone else’s version of success impact or influence their version of success.
We have to stop letting other people influence what makes us feel happy and successful. We have to stop comparing ourselves to other people who are in different stages of life or business then we are. We have to stop doing the things that don’t align with us because someone else said we should. We have to stop focusing on what everyone else is doing and saying and instead focus on what we’re doing and saying!! We have to stop setting pipe dream goals that aren’t even close to being realistic for where we’re at with our businesses right now. We have to stop feeling like failures and start celebrating all that we are doing and accomplishing!
Bonus Tip: Focus on progress, not perfection. We are our own worst critics and don’t give ourselves enough credit. But guess what? Two steps forward and one step back is still progress and a little progress each day adds up to big results!!
Related Post: What I Did and Didn’t Do for My Most Successful Digital Product Launch to Date
AND FINALLY, YOU NEED HIGH-LEVEL CEO TIME MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE
During those first few years of my business journey, I was so caught up in the day-to-day of DOING business that I forgot to RUN my business behind-the-scenes.
I got to a point where I had NO CLUE what was going on with my business. I was just winging things and throwing spaghetti at the wall. I didn’t know what was working or not working, I was just working. All the time. Without actually getting anywhere. #hamsterwheel
It took some time, but I finally figured out that flying by the seat of your pants and winging things is NOT a long-term business strategy. It’s not a business strategy AT ALL. Without systems, schedules, or strategy, my business was running me, and I was running my business into the ground.
I couldn’t keep doing what I was doing and getting what I was getting as a result. So I started looking for something, anything that would help me take back control of my business.
I tried to mimic the admin days, CEO days, and duty days I saw other business owners posting about online, but in so many ways they just weren’t enough.
They weren’t specific enough. They weren’t streamlined enough. They weren’t big-picture enough. They didn’t take into account my WHOLE business. And I still felt overwhelmed, scatterbrained, and all over the place after doing them.
That’s when I took matters into my own hands and created Fresh Start Systems!!
These CEO Systems help me work ON my business (not just IN it), keep a pulse on every part of my business (so nothing falls through the cracks), and ensure that my business is running like a well-oiled machine all year long.
They’re essentially admin days, CEO days, and duty days on steroids!! 🤩
Fresh Start Systems will put you back in the pilot’s seat of your business and keep you there all year long. You’ll finally have the clarity and control you NEED to confidently run your business behind-the-scenes with ease!!
If you’re ready to take back control of your business this year and beat burnout for good, Fresh Start Systems are the CEO Systems you need to run your business like a boss!!
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