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Small Business, Big Burnout

Work, in general, can be a significant cause of stress and anxiety. Especially during the pandemic when so much was unknown about the workforce, unplanned shutdowns, and the overall future of businesses worldwide. A group who significantly felt the impact of these stressors was small businesses and even more specifically, small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Already, these individuals are at a higher risk of stress and burnout due to a multitude of reasons. Being your own boss can have its appeals especially when the work you’re doing is something you’re passionate about; however, that can also make it harder to recognize the signs of burnout before it gets serious. So, what are some stress triggers, and what can be done to address and prevent future burnout?

"About 81% of small business owners have no other employees."

A 2021 survey of small business owners found that 52% felt stressed over the course of the year. This is a 7% increase from 2020. It's apparent that the pandemic did increase the already existing stress on small business owners, but with that aside, there are still many contributing factors at play here. Some of the common stressors that impact small business owners and entrepreneurs are lack of work-life balance, knowing how and when to unplug, and taking on too much responsibility.

When your work is something that you’re passionate about, it’s logical that you will spend more time on it because you feel intrinsically motivated too! At what point though does that inner motivation turn into a sense of obligation or anxiety? This is where a lot of entrepreneurs start seeing symptoms of significant stress and burnout. When you find yourself working well into the evening or even wanting to lay in bed and avoid your overflowing inbox, this is when you’ve reached significant burnout.

The Small Business Administration conducted a poll and 26% of business owners said that their work-life balance has worsened since the pandemic. You can combat this by setting work hours for yourself and adhering to them unless it's an emergency. Try unlinking your work email from your phone or even completely unplugging after a certain point in the day. Taking a vacation, even if it’s just a day or a long weekend, is another great way to reset and refresh. It’s also an underutilized stress deterrent since more than half of business owners report not taking a vacation in about a year.

"More than a quarter of business owners report that their work-life balance is worse compared to before the pandemic."

The main differentiator between entrepreneurs and people employed by larger businesses is the ability to turn to coworkers or teammates for help. Sure, we all get stressed and overwhelmed, but a lot of small business owners are the sole employees, and, therefore, all the work falls on their shoulders. About 81% of small business owners have no other employees.

So, how do you take time off when there is no one else to pick up the slack while you’re away? Having a strong network of friends and family around that you may be able to reach out to and ask for help when you’re struggling to juggle everything is imperative. And if you do have a few employees, finding ways to delegate duties and ask for assistance can be instrumental in your business’ success and your overall emotional wellbeing.

As much as you love what you do, taking care of yourself first means being able to work on your passion for longer and operating at your best. If you find yourself irritable, overwhelmed, constantly tired, or considerably anxious, now might be a good time to take stock of your work, and how you feel and make some changes.