Resources for beating small business burnout

illustration of woman working at desk looking frustrated

We all get burned out on life’s most tiresome tasks. Whether it’s sitting in traffic, taking out the trash, or filing taxes, one thing is clear: the bigger the bummer, the quicker the burnout.

But you can also have too much of a good thing.

Maybe you’ve had a few too many bags of your favorite potato chip and are looking to switch brands. Or you’re on your fourth rewatch of your favorite sitcom and the jokes just aren’t hitting as hard.

Or maybe, just maybe, you’re starting to feel a little less passionate about running your small business.

Other workplaces have vacations and time off for their employees to decompress. But as a small business owner, it can be tough to find time for R&R. After all; downtime means revenue loss and missed opportunities. And handing responsibilities off to someone else, even for a day or two, is often impossible for small teams and solopreneurs.

So, how can small business owners avoid burning themselves out? Great question—and fortunately, one that we’re prepared to answer. Let’s dive in.

How to spot the burnout bug.

Across the interwebs, you’ll find one of the most agreed-upon keys to avoiding burnout in any profession is early detection.

Here are some of the early warning signs:

  • Fatigue
  • Repeated illness
  • Lack of motivation
  • Self-isolation
  • Irritability

Those are just a few of the red flags that might signal burnout—but it can manifest itself in many ways. And once those frazzled feelings set in, they can be tough to shake. That’s why it’s best to get out ahead of burnout before it begins to weigh on you.

Ways to avoid burnout.

There are no magic pills to cure burnout.

At its core, burnout is the manifestation of an unbalanced life. If you don’t take the time to take care of yourself, there’s a good chance burnout lurks just around the corner.

Here’s what we (and some extremely knowledgeable experts) suggest:

1. Keep things in balance.

One of the first steps in both avoiding and reversing burnout is finding a sense of balance in your life.

When you’ve pushed yourself to exhaustion and don’t take time to recharge your batteries, things are bound to fall out of whack. Nobody is one-dimensional. We all have interests, hobbies, and things we like to do outside of work.

Finding ways to decompress with needlework, board games, gardening, or a game of hoops with the kiddos can be a great way to balance our lives.

This goes double for small business owners. The key to preventing burnout might be as simple as bringing on the right employee who can keep the business running while you take a couple of days a month to do what you love. Or, if you notice that a certain part of the year is slow, maybe that’s the moment to take a few self-care days off for yourself.

2. Stay active.

We often push ourselves too hard. In small businesses, some things need to be sacrificed to make sure we get our product off the ground.

Too often, the first thing to go is our exercise routine.

We think exercise is optional, but realistically it is a massive key to maintaining balance in our lives.

Our bodies were created to move, interact with the world, and absorb and expend energy. If this weren’t the case, we’d be a bunch of brains sitting around in vats of solution just thinking about stuff.

Our bodies use exercise to get rid of stress, increase our energy levels, and release hormones into our bodies that make us feel better.

There’s a lot of science and chemistry behind how all of that works. But we won’t bore you with the details.

Establish a regular exercise routine. That could be something as simple as walking on your lunch break. Perhaps you could join a rec league for the sport of your choice or sign up for that yoga class you’ve been avoiding.

Whatever you decide, any amount of activity is helpful in avoiding burnout.

3. Lean on your friends.

Friends…it’s not just a classic tv show.

One of the major signs of impending burnout is increased cynicism. The feeling that your situation stinks and there’s nothing you can do about it just kind of oozes out of your pores when you’re aboard the burnout train.

Talking things through with friends is key to combatting those feelings. Having a community of people willing to offer solutions and advice is what many of us need when we’re at our lowest. It allows you to pull the emergency brake on that train so you can take a step back and remember what you love about your business.

Take care of yourself so you can take care of your customers.

Here at Ruby, we pride ourselves on our positive attitude and the innovative way we look at the world. We know that the better you feel about running your business, the better able you’ll be to serve your customers and community.

That’s why we’ve put together small business resources designed to help your life a little easier. We encourage you to take a small break to check some of these resources out—and to keep taking all of the breaks you need to stay at your best going forward!