Burnout can be your biggest enemy as an entrepreneur. It’s your nemesis that stands in the way of all the things you really want. So, what are the ways to avoid burnout for entrepreneurs?
The Reality Of Being Your Own Boss
There are many reasons to become an entrepreneur and start your own business. Becoming your own boss and having the freedom to do things your way is one of the biggest draws. Even when it isn’t the main driver, it is a major perk.
However, instead of enjoying the mythical four-hour workweek, the reality is usually 20 hour days, 7 days a week, and taking calls at crazy times. Often sleeping in the office to boot. It can be even worse when you work from home. You wake up to work and keep working until you pass out. This often isn’t just a short sprint either. Some are still doing this when their stock is worth billions and the company is public 10 years down the road. You may always say that “things will be different next year.” It won’t change unless you change the rules.
As the best startup accelerator will tell you, It is vital to recognize that burnout is your own worst enemy. It will steal your joy and business. You have to look at preventative measures as a must. It’s a vaccine, and having huge value. Just like you can’t run your car at 140mph forever. The engine is going to blow up, run out of gas, or the tires are going to go out. It needs to be maintained to keep running at top performance.
Here are just some of the easy ways you can avoid burnout as an entrepreneur…
Mentally Prepare Yourself For The Day
Try morning rituals to get the right mindset for the day and reduce stress. Retain the big picture view. A key part of this is remembering you are not your business. Companies will come and go whether they are successful or not, but if you treat them well the important people in your life will be with you through multiple journeys. Even if you have no one, you need your health, or you can’t go on.
It also equally helps to have a support system to share the mental burden with. This could be a family member, your peers, or a business coach.
Sleep is the most important factor for avoiding burnout and staying in top performance. You not only need an appropriate amount of sleep, but quality sleep. Do whatever you have to to ensure you get it. You’ll feel more energized and make better decisions, which will reduce the work burden and temptation to overdo it.
Block Your Time
You have to draw a hard line of when you’ll allow yourself to work and not. If you really want to be home for dinner and on weekends. You may just have to learn to be more firm in saying no to some things. The freedom to set your own schedule is one of the top benefits of entrepreneurship – use it!
Revive yourself and make yourself feel alive by taking spontaneous breaks. Go surfing in the afternoon. Go for a random family picnic at the beach. Take your spouse on a brunch date and go to work late one day. Or take the team for a surprise day trip.
Respect That Vacation Time Is A Must
Vacation time is a must. Other startups are giving unlimited vacation time. You can’t keep up if their teams and executives are more refreshed than you are. 30-40 days paid vacation is law in some countries, and work weeks are being shortened. Data shows a loss of effectiveness after 35-40 hours a week. So, make time for a vacation yourself.
Make sure you do it be pre-booking at least 2 weeks vacation a year in advance. Pay for it in January so you won’t want to waste the money.
This will also force you to level up, and automate your business more. After all, that’s the point of a company anyway. So, find someone to cover you, and go camping, hiking, or take a road trip.
Hold Onto Your Hobbies & Passions
Being able to do these things makes all the work worth it. You have to have something outside of your business you are passionate about too. It could be to spend an hour in the gym getting headspace and keeping in shape every day. It could be creating art. Or doing your favorite sport.
Build Slack Into Your Schedule
Everything takes longer than you expect, and there are always excuses to do more. So, book 6 hours of work each day and it might take you 8, versus booking 8 on your schedule and ending up working 12.
The same goes for building in more slack to countdowns to launching products, ad campaigns, and fundraising rounds. Start months in advance and be done weeks early rather than always being in a frantic rush and past deadlines.
Reduce stress and clear your mind to focus on tasks that get results by delegating everything which doesn’t absolutely require you to do it. To be honest, that is very little. Most CEOs focus the bulk of their time on fundraising, recruiting, and networking. Though, you can even find a lot of help to take most of that burden off of your plate. You can’t play every instrument in an orchestra and pull off an amazing show. Think of yourself as the conductor of the symphony. You are directing, not in the trenches.
Alejandro Cremades is a serial entrepreneur and the author of The Art of Startup Fundraising. With a foreword by ‘Shark Tank‘ star Barbara Corcoran, and published by John Wiley & Sons, the book was named one of the best books for entrepreneurs. The book offers a step-by-step guide to today‘s way of raising money for entrepreneurs.
Most recently, Alejandro built and exited CoFoundersLab which is one of the largest communities of founders online.
Prior to CoFoundersLab, Alejandro worked as a lawyer at King & Spalding where he was involved in one of the biggest investment arbitration cases in history ($113 billion at stake).
Alejandro is an active speaker and has given guest lectures at the Wharton School of Business, Columbia Business School, and at NYU Stern School of Business.
Alejandro has been involved with the JOBS Act since inception and was invited to the White House and the US House of Representatives to provide his stands on the new regulatory changes concerning fundraising online.