For a majority of people, work is life. With increasing technology and work days getting longer and longer, it’s hard to leave work at the office. If you’re an entrepreneur or work at a startup, you might not be able to, either. Our culture idolizes businessmen like Elon Musk and Bill Gates. However, stories of wild success require a critical eye, because they often leave out the endless, grueling work of entrepreneurship.
We have created a work culture for entrepreneurs that is not only unhealthy but dangerous. Entrepreneurs never get to “clock out” of their jobs. Many businesses are formed out of a desire to change the world. However, passion without a plan will end in disaster.
Real Problems, Real Consequences
It’s common to see entrepreneurs working 80 hours weeks. Ceaselessly hammering away at the business to make some sort of profit is exhausting. It leads to physical and mental health problems in the long run.
“Depression…is not a topic the start-up community understands well,” Inc.com says. “Admitting you struggle with depression is like admitting you can’t reach your bootstraps. It’s assumed that successful people can just shake it off.” It doesn’t help that entrepreneurs are twice as likely to suffer from depression as the regular population.
Shopify says it best: Entrepreneurship can be a grisly, volatile mess of toxic ingredients on the verge of combustion, threatening to consume your health, relationships, and life.
It’s clear that entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart.
Does that mean you’re not cut out for the entrepreneurial life? Only you can answer that question. The good news, however, is that you can avoid a lot of hardship by approaching entrepreneurship realistically. Already knowing these facts has put you ahead of many other startups.
Here are 3 ways for you to avoid burnout and come out on top as an entrepreneur:
1) Invest in your health
Investing in your health is one of the best ways you can prevent burnout. Remember that work culture we talked about earlier? It can be tempting to brag about how little sleep you’re getting or all the hours you’re putting into work. However, neglecting your sleep schedule will hurt you in the moment and the long run.
Some studies have even shown that improving sleep schedule can be three times more effective than medication in treatment for depression. Neglecting your sleep schedule is hurting you far more than you realize.
There are countless guides online to getting a better night’s sleep. A quick way to start? Avoid caffeine after 3 pm, and begin winding down in the early evening. Absolutely limit your exposure to screens at least an hour before your anticipated bedtime.
Staying off your computer or phone before bed might sound unrealistic to workaholics, but it’s been shown that exposing your brain to the blue light from screens causes it to remain alert and awake. If you have to be on the computer before bed, make sure to use a program like f.lux that dims your computer screen and avoid that blue light problem.
Another way to prioritize your health is to exercise. This advice gets thrown around a lot and can feel overhyped, but the benefits are undeniable. Working out improves quality of sleep, prevents cognitive decline, and increases productivity. “As an entrepreneur, you need to be focused, self-motivated, and ready to face whatever challenges life is throwing at you,” reports SmallBizClub. “By going to the gym, you won’t just improve your body; you’ll improve your memory, your creativity, and your day to day life.”
2) Outsource when you need help
As an entrepreneur, you do it all. You had to be a jack-of-all-trades to get your business off the ground, and it can be tempting to continue to do everything yourself. This will, however, absolutely lead to burnout.
“Stop taking on other’s priorities, no matter how tempting it is to do something right themselves the first time,” says Entrepreneur.com. “Only help others when you have the time — if not, politely and honestly tell them you can’t.”Setting a solid work-life balance might feel impossible, but it can be done. Furthermore, it must be done if you want your business to succeed in the long run.
One way to achieve this balance is to outsource. Outsourcing solves a lot of problems for entrepreneurs; “you’re no longer limited by proximity, which means you can hire the best people for your team whether they’re 5 minutes away or 5,000 miles.”
You also can take back precious time. Don’t try to teach yourself new skills to meet deadlines. Focus on what YOU do best and leave that to the professionals. It’s always good to be challenging yourself, but you need to make sure those challenges pay off in the long run.
A particularly profitable area to outsource is reception. When your company grows, you need to make sure all your leads are followed up on and your calls are being answered. But that task can’t fall to you, with everything else on your plate.
After all, “75% of customers believe it takes too long to reach a live agent, and having a live voice answer your calls can be the difference between gaining a client or your competition gaining a client.”
Hiring a virtual receptionist service will ensure your clients can reach you 24/7/365. This means you can focus on the real work of your business. Don’t burn out by constantly answering the phone!
3) Be realistic in your goals
“As an entrepreneur, you need to be realistic,” says Inc.com. “Sure, it’s great to have a vision for what your perfect business looks like. But if there’s no market for it (no one is buying what you’re selling), your dream is pointless.”
Ouch! They do make a good point, though. A University of Phoenix survey showed that “63 percent of people in their 20s either owned their own businesses or wanted to someday, and of those who were not already entrepreneurs, 55 percent hoped to be in the future.”
You’ve got a lot of competition in your future as an entrepreneur, and you need to be prepared for it. You have to assume that your competition is as hungry as you are and ready to fight to achieve their dreams.
This might stress you out, but accepting the truth of the situation will better prepare you for the uncertainty of the future. Burnout occurs when you are underprepared and overworked. By creating a business plan now and setting weekly, monthly, and yearly goals, you will set yourself up for success.
Being an entrepreneur requires optimism and a strong belief in your business. This self-belief is important, but don’t let it cloud your judgment.
Another way you can be realistic as an entrepreneur is to find a business mentor. Learning from the mistakes of someone who has worked and thrived in your industry is a smart move.
Entrepreneur.com reports that “93 percent of startups admit that mentorship is instrumental to success.”
Many startup founders don’t start with mentors, so find one early and cultivate that relationship to give you a leg up on your competition.
Never Burn Out Again
Being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone. However, if you’ve read this far, you have the determination to make it with your startup. Make sure to invest in your health, outsource when you need help, and be realistic in your goals.
You can make your goals a reality with entrepreneurship if you have a plan. Start today.