How to avoid burnout as a business owner

How can you manage your business so you’re not burnt out when lockdown restrictions lift?

We’re beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel of lockdown, with large amounts of the population being vaccinated and Boris Johnson’s roadmap starting to unfold. As coronavirus restrictions lift, you may find your workload increasing as regular social events combine with industry changes. Here’s how you can best position yourself as a business owner so that you’re not overwhelmed when the world opens up once again.


What is burnout and why do business owners suffer?

Burnout is a state of mental and physical exhaustion, taking the passion out of your career and personal life. It can be caused by continued stress, created from things like working long hours, or witnessing upsetting news or political changes, finally developing into a condition over time.


According to the Labour Force Survey, 828,000 workers in the UK were suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2019-20. It’s estimated that 17.9 million working days were lost in this time due to these issues – all likely related to some form of burnout.

During the coronavirus, many business owners lost clients and customers, or even saw an unsustainable uptake in demand for their products, amongst a whole range of other unpredictable changes. Understandably, these situations have seen cases of burnout soar... So, what can you do to avoid the signs?


Organise your workspace and your schedule

Feeling out of control – even in tasks like general admin – can be a huge source of stress. Putting some time aside to focus on organising your files, computer and desk can be actually be an unsung  saviour from stress-induced burnout.

Instead of focusing on the long list of tasks you still need to complete, try sorting them into manageable segments that are achievable, with clear milestone goals. By basing tasks on priority and only focusing on a few at a time, you may feel less overwhelmed and more motivated to carry on projects at your own pace.


Identify the stressful areas of managing your business

As a business owner, your company is your passion. But running a business always comes with a few things that we’d rather avoid, like finances or admin. Instead of procrastinating and putting them off, identify your least favourite tasks as a stressor instead. Then, when the time finally comes to complete them, you can create a plan that will get them done (and out of your mind) as soon as possible!


Delegate to your team

The best leaders know that a successful business grows from its teamwork and communication. As a business owner, you’re not going to be incredible at every aspect of running a company – and that’s ok! Don’t shy away from acknowledging your weaknesses. Instead, identify where you need help and arrange for support to be in place for those areas, creating the opportunity for you to delegate effectively and maximize the use of your time on the things that you excel at.


Know when to clock off

  • Say no! It's tough to turn down work, especially in these times of unpredictability for SMEs. Ensure you’re nurturing the current client relationships that you have – and if prospects are coming in, but aren’t your ideal client – learn to say no. An extra client might be ideal from a financial aspect, but ensure you have the right capacity in place before taking any new projects on. Depending on your resource, it may help to focus on your current clients only
  • Outline your workday: If you work better against a schedule, try creating specific work hours that define where your day starts and ends
  • Take breaks: Prioritise your breaks in the same way you would prioritise a meeting. That way, you can always make sure you have planned out some time to breathe, with the peace of mind that it won’t affect any other projects.


Appreciate your business wins

Getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of a busy day is an easy distraction from all the tasks you are achieving. Instead of looking at how much you still have on your plate, take some time to reflect on where you were before getting started on your own. Celebrating your accomplishments leaves room for more to come your way – as well as a great way to reduce your stress!


Avoiding burnout is all about protecting your time, one of the most valuable assets a business owner has. These actions take a conscious effort, especially when combined with big changes outside of your control. However, once you learn to put yourself first when it counts, you will begin to cut out the common sources of stress and focus on what’s important, leading to better productivity and success in the long term.