Why You’re Burned Out on Your Business

By Jessica Albon

It’s an unfortunate part of running a business — sooner or later you’re going to face business burn out. There are a lot of causes of burn out, but in working with hundreds of clients, there are two that I’ve seen come up most often: 1) Your enthusiasm for what you do is no longer enough to sustain you; and 2) You’ve had enough experiences where you worked really hard at something only to get no result to be feeling discouraged.

When our business is shiny and new, it’s often pretty easy to keep working at it–even when we’re not getting results. We knew we were getting into something big and hard before we decided to launch, that that level of commitment is often enough to keep us motivated for the long haul. Plus, a new business still has that shiny new energy which most people find fun and fulfilling.

How to fix business burn out

But after we’ve been in the game for awhile–whether that means running your own business, or working for someone else–all those times we didn’t get results start to add up and they erode our confidence. Missing the mark is a normal part of life. There are going to be times when we work hard, do our best, have the experience to get great results, and still the project is a flop. Unfortunately, for most of us, we naturally weight those flops as more severe than the wins.

I have a client in the B2B SaaS space who’s founded and sold three businesses so far. And yet, when he struggled to close his latest round of funding, he admitted to feeling like maybe he’d lost his edge, or those previous wins were just “good luck.”

Most of us — if we’ve been in business for awhile — have had times when we’ve felt like this. And we often respond to this feeling by restricting ourselves and being less inclined to dive in and try something new–now we want the tried and true.

The problem with this is that we each have a particular approach that is our tried and true but that we’ve often gotten negative feedback on. So, when we’re just getting started, we may feel comfortable diving in in our natural style, but once we’ve been working for awhile, we hear all those voices in our head about the ways we did it “wrong” last time and we try to get it right this time.

Which adds up, for most of us, to being burnt out in our business.

Each of the Brand Sirens gets stuck in a particular way. (If you don’t know your Siren, take the quiz!) Find your Siren and see if this resonates. Then, take the small action recommended.

Audrey: You’re trying to help everyone. Audreys tend to have high-appeal which means you’ll get contacted by tons of people who want your help. But, you can’t help everyone. It’ll deplete and exhaust you to try! Take a look at your schedule for next week and cancel at least three appointments you’re not looking forward to.

Edith: You’re dousing your bossiness. As an Edith, you know what someone needs to do to get the result they want. You don’t need to ask a lot of questions or get a feel for the situation first. But, perhaps someone balked when you told them what to do and now you’re trying to soften your style. Stop that! Your right clients adore you because you cut to the chase. Reach out to one prospect (who you’d like to work with) and tell them it’s time for your work together to begin.

Judy: You’re everywhere at once. Judys tend to want to try everything and then they don’t always reassess what’s working and what’s not. So, today make a list of everything you’re doing, thinking about, trying out, and working on. Sometimes just having the list is enough. If not, cross off at least two things (and then stop doing them).

Katharine: You’re hiding out. Maybe someone reacted badly when you were just being yourself. Maybe someone accused you of saying something hurtful when that’s not how you meant it. Katharines are the most likely to be misunderstood and that tends to shut them down. Once someone’s been hurt by something you’ve said, it can be really hard to find your voice again. So, try this: treat yourself as the client. If you came to yourself feeling stuck, what advice would you give?

Elizabeth: You’ve stopped taking care of yourself. I’m not talking “self care” in the traditional sense (massages, etc, etc) though that’s fine if you enjoy it. Rather, you’ve likely started steam rolling over the little things. Try asking yourself, “What would make this more enjoyable?” and then doing it. Maybe you’d like to listen to music while you work–or maybe you’d like silence. Maybe you need transition time before starting your next task.

These incremental actions possess the power to release you from burnout. Remember, feeling stuck is a part of being in business. There are going to be those times when you feel like your missteps outweigh your successes. Or that none of the potential paths forward will get you to where you want to go.

Fortunately, healing burn out is usually about taking small, do-able actions to get out of the immediate feeling of stuckness. It can be really helpful to have just one specific, concrete action to take and leaning on your Siren’s root cause of burn out — and the quickest path out of that space — is a great first step.

What’s your favorite technique for moving out of burn out and back into enthusiasm?