Business Owner Burnout: 5 Ways to Nip it Now

Anyone who has ever launched a business knows that stress goes with the territory; long hours, insufficient family time, and endless decision-making create a pressure cooker environment, even for those with nerves of steel. Unchecked, the strain can easily lead to burnout, not to mention business failure.

One owner I know, three years after opening his business was so frazzled that he was ready to close up for good. He was working 70 hours a week, pouring his own money into the company every month to make up for cash shortfalls, having difficulty keeping employees, and struggling to cope with the toll it was taking on his marriage. Burnout had struck with a vengeance.

If you burn out in a corporate environment, you can fix it by switching jobs. It’s disappointing, but there’s significantly less at stake than for a business owner who has his or her heart, soul and resources tied up in a company.

If you burn out in a business venture, it’s typically the result of intense pressure built up over time. It’s infinitely harder to walk away because that would mean abandoning your dream, leaving your employees jobless, and facing sometimes dire financial and psychological consequences.

That’s why it’s important to take preventive measures to avoid letting your business drive you to burnout. Here are a few simple ways to nip burnout in the bud:

  1. Build a knowledge base. You may know everything about plumbing, but that doesn’t mean you know how to run a plumbing business. Learn the financial and marketing basics before you open your doors and continue educating yourself as you go along.-¨
  2. Have a plan. Your initial business model may have looked good on paper, but it may not work precisely as planned and now you may be feeling unfocused, without a clear direction. The best path is to create an action plan every 90 days based on the lessons you’re learning along the way.-¨
  3. Connect with other business owners and share ideas. As business owners, we often carry the weight of our business on our shoulders. Simply having someone in business but outside of “your” business, to collaborate and share with can invigorate you as well as help to alleviate stress.-¨
  4. Celebrate your accomplishments. Take time to review what has gone right in your business. Too often we just stay on the hamster wheel with our eye on what’s next. Stopping to “smell the roses” and focusing on the positive can have a huge impact on reenergizing the company.-¨
  5. Get a coach. When you own a business, it’s often difficult to see things clearly, especially when the going gets tough. You’re too close to the situation, you’re stuck in a rut, and you may not have the business background to know how to climb out. Turning to personal mentors, coaching businesses such as my company, ClearVision, or volunteer organizations like SCORE can give you a fresh perspective, as well as the benefit of their broader experience.


Dawn Drozd, CEO of ClearVision Business Coaching, named one of the Top 150 coaches in the world. Her new book, “The Success Code,” out Fall 2013, reveals how more than 50 business owners not only survived, but thrived during the recession. She can be reached at [email protected].

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Richard Blanchard
Rick is the Managing Editor of Corp! magazine. He has worked in reporting and editing roles at the Port Huron Times Herald, Lansing State Journal and The Detroit News, where he was most recently assistant business editor. A native of Michigan, Richard also worked in Washington state as a reporter, photographer and editor at the Anacortes American. He received a bachelor of arts from the University of Michigan and a master’s in accountancy from the University of Phoenix.