4 Reasons Entrepreneurs Experience Burn Out

Entrepreneurs often see burnout as an inevitable stage in the professional process. Countless blogs, podcasts, brands and industry leaders tout solutions and techniques for battling fatigue but, rather than treating the symptoms, why not go directly to source? What is ultimately causing burnout? 

For starters, instead of working a typical 9-to-5 workday, entrepreneurs are often “on the clock” 24/7/365, and common sense suggests this exertion will eventually catch up with you. As with any exertion if energy (creative, emotional, physical, etc.), rest and recovery are needed to ensure a healthy work-life balance and limit, if not completely eliminate, burnout.  

Battling Burnout

Burnout is estimated to cost the U.S. economy $300 billion annually, and entrepreneurs certainly contribute their fair share. Burnout impacts both an entrepreneur’s personal well-being and their business success.

Evidence suggests that entrepreneurs are susceptible to burnout for reasons ranging from their passion to the risks involved. Based on the common themes we’ve experienced ourselves and observed, burnout can likely be attributed to one (or more) of the following culprits:

1. You have the wrong kind of passion.

Passion is no doubt important in entrepreneurial ventures, but it’s not all positive. According to researchers from VU University Amsterdam, the University of Richmond, and North Carolina State University, entrepreneurs exhibit two types of passion: harmonious and obsessive. Studies have found that entrepreneurs with harmonious passion were motivated by a sense of satisfaction and their work was an important, integral part of their personal identities.

On the other hand, entrepreneurs with obsessive passion were motivated by status, money or other rewards. Obsessively passionate entrepreneurs are much more likely to experience burnout than those motivated by harmonious passion. 

2. You’re bored with your work.

The negative effects of employee boredom are becoming so well-documented that the trend has a new name: "boreout." This phenomenon is treated as a psychological disorder that can lead to burnout, according to Philippe Rothlin and Peter Werder, authors of “Boreout! Overcoming Workplace Demotivation.” 

A Udemy study found that 43 percent of workers report being bored, and of that group, over half say they are bored for more than half of their time at work. The symptoms of boredom include stress, fatigue, and irritation. Disinterest in work-related tasks puts an entrepreneur at risk of suffering from burnout. 

3. You have trouble delegating.

Delegating can be difficult for entrepreneurs considering their passion, dedication and expertise of their business or product. As businesses grow and scale to meet demands, it is important to recognize those day-to-day tasks that be delegated to other team members. 

According to a Gallup study, CEOs who were talented delegators posted three-year growth rates that were 112 percent higher than those with a limited talent for delegation. Revenue levels mimic this result, with talented delegators generating 33 percent greater revenue than their peers thus eliminating the opportunity for burnout and increasing financial gains for the company.

4. You try to power through life’s rough patches.

According to research, negative or stressful life events can decrease productivity by as much as 12 percent. Licensed psychologist and small business owner Dr. Dori Gatter tried to push through her own burnout but acknowledges that things at work continued to fall through the cracks: “I thought I just had to keep working harder for things to get better and then I could relax. Isn’t that the story we all tell ourselves? That is a lie.” Recognize that your personal life will impact your productivity at work and that simply working harder isn’t the solution.

To avoid burnout, we encourage you to regularly check-in with yourself and ask a few basic questions: Are you obsessed with the rewards but not the work? Are you doing a vast majority of the work when you have a capable team to support you? Are there extemporaneous factors playing a role in your work life that need to be taken care of? 

Burnout can have mental and physical consequences that are difficult to shake. In the end, it will benefit both you and your business in both tangible and intangible ways that should ultimately improve your bottom line. 

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