Building your own business from the ground up can be very exciting — till the dreaded burnout hits you.
I initially started my side business to earn more money and make extra payments on my debt. As a result, I wasn't interested in having a ton of business expenses each month, and I often decided to take the DIY approach. But starting a freelance writing business got somewhat overwhelming once I realized how many responsibilities I had become saddled with.
I had to come up with content and unique ideas for my site and for my clients' sites; maintain and update my site regularly; pitch potential clients — along with other companies — in hopes of developing partnerships; run and grow my social media accounts; and manage my email list while responding promptly to inquiries — just to name a few of my main responsibilities. I also had to track my income and keep up with contracts and prepare detailed documents for tax filing.
Doing all of this while working at a full-time job, taking care of my household, and raising my son left me with some very tired days and nights.
Initially, I gave up more and more of my free time — and even one or two hours of sleep each night — and it still always felt like there was more work to do. There was always something I could have been doing to take my business to the next level. But I kept at it. Result: I got burnt out.
Being burned out is not fun at all. Half of the time, you feel so busy and overwhelmed that you don't even know where to begin. The other half of the time, you just want to crawl into your bed and forget about everything for the next 48 hours.
I started feeling the burn about six months after I started working on my side business. Things were really picking up though, so I knew that I couldn't quit or slow down anytime soon. Plus, I was crushing my debt with the extra income, just like I had planned on doing. So how could I recover from burnout and avoid it in the future? I found three strategies to help avoid burnout:
- Accepting imperfection
- Working smarter, not just harder
- Outsourcing certain tasks
Burnout Prevention Tip #1: Accept Imperfection
As a perfectionist, it was difficult, but I came to the understanding that when growing a business, there will always be something more to do at the end of the day. That feeling of completeness that I was searching for probably doesn't even exist in the entrepreneurial world.
I started to find comfort in the small wins and milestones that I achieved, as opposed to working tirelessly day in and day out.
I got organized, prioritized a few main tasks to complete each day, and finally realized the true meaning of “Rome wasn't built in a day.”
Burnout Prevention Tip #2: Work Smarter
I've heard many times that you should work smarter and not harder, and it's a great concept. It often means cutting out time-consuming tasks and responsibilities and replacing them with more efficient methods that reduce the amount of time and effort you have to contribute to get equal results.
A good example of working smarter instead of harder is scheduling out social media posts for your business in batches with a scheduling tool like Hootsuite or Buffer instead of taking the time and mental energy to do it manually each day. I used tools like Asana to assign myself daily and weekly tasks, and to help remind me of when tasks were due.
But being smart doesn't spare you from working hard if you want to succeed. So I made it a habit to work hard when I was motivated to do so. I took advantage of my most productive part of the day — mornings — to make the most progress.
Then I took breaks and — dare I say it — days off when I was feeling burnt out. That way I could rest and recharge my inner battery.
Burnout Prevention Tip #3: Outsource
Outsourcing is an entrepreneur's best friend. You can only run your business alone up until a certain point. If you want to grow your business and your income past that point, you need to hire help.
I chose to outsource a few tasks when my business income reached a point that I was comfortable with. For example, I hired a Pinterest marketing expert to create graphics for my site and to implement a strategy to get my content seen on that platform, creating more clicks back to my site.
I also hired someone who was very tech savvy and could update my website, protect it from hackers, and perform other tech tasks that I have no idea how to do. When it came time to do taxes, I hired a professional accountant to help me smooth out the process.
So far, hiring help in the areas where I needed it most has saved me a ton of time and energy, which gives me a lot of peace of mind.