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Being a business owner can be immensely rewarding, but as any entrepreneur can confirm, it requires a lot of mental resilience. This is in part due to every successful business owner feeling a heightened sense of personal responsibility (not to mention legal liability) for every business decision that is made. In addition, these are the individuals that invariably clock up significant overtime and are usually still hard at work long after five ‘o clock.

In fact, a Gallup poll found that 39% of business owners work in excess of 60 hours per week, which is sure to take its toll mentally and physically in the long run. Further to this, COVID-19 has inevitably added to the already pressured workday of the typical business owner.

No single person can keep up this high level of output without the risk of burnout. Should burnout occur, the consequences to the business (as well as the owner) can be dire, often resulting in poor decisions being made, compromised personal health, and a very negative experience even putting the most dedicated individual off entrepreneurship for good.

In order to navigate these very real business risks, there are a few points that every business owner should keep in mind for the sake of their own health, as well as the success of their company:

Know the warning signs

The first rule of burnout is that nobody is immune to it, so make sure to identify the signs and symptoms ahead of time.

This might include bouts of anxiety and sadness, apathy, withdrawal from friends and family, addictive behaviour and disruptions in sleeping and eating habits. Take immediate action should any of these symptom be identified.

Personal balance is vital

Even during times of crisis, regularly taking time out – such as taking the family on an outing or going for a jog – will keep energy levels up for longer. Alongside this, make sure that employees are doing the same to avoid errors creeping in, staff taking multiple sick leave days as a result of exhaustion or even resigning due to job dissatisfaction.

Wherever possible, consider ways to automate as much of the business’ repetitive workload, which will free up time to spend valuable energy on higher-level tasks instead.

Build contingencies into the business

Avoiding burnout means being able to step away from work when needed. Whether taking planned or unplanned time off, ensure that the business can continue to exist during this time without too much support. In order to do so, it is crucial to make sure that key staff are adequately trained to take over certain roles temporarily if needed.

Whilst it’s not possible for one single person to take over a business owner’s work while they’re taking time out to recover, it’s a good idea to spread the most important tasks around and find ways of responsibly putting certain duties on hold. Taking the time to work out a contingency plan and training the right people to take over when needed is definitely an important risk management measure.

The tremendous stress that comes with being a business owner is unavoidable. But, maintaining a positive mental state through a good work life balance, and approaching burnout just like any other important but manageable business risk, will ultimately pay-off in the long-run.

About the Author: Ben Bierman

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Ben Bierman has been our Managing Director since 2015. He joined our company in 1990 and has risen through the ranks occupying various positions ranging from being a management accountant, Head of Information Technology and Chief Financial Officer. Ben is an avid reader, enjoys classical music and being in the outdoors including for hunting trips. He is our go-to-spokesperson for our SME Confidence Index, SME sector policy and trend matters, and business leadership articles.