How to Stave Off Business Burnout as a Startup Owner

Work Burnout Poses Problem for Small Business Owners, Per Xero Survey

Feeling more than a little stressed? You’re not alone. Startup owners everywhere struggle to manage all the moving parts of running a business, which can build up over time and lead to business burnout – the ultimate productivity killer.

What Is Business Burnout?

Mental health professionals classify burnout as the complete mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion that results from prolonged stress. Burnout can cause depression and anxiety, as well as detachment, lack of enthusiasm and disengagement from work and life.

Fortunately, business burnout is completely preventable. But how can you keep it at bay? Believe it or not, it can be done – you can have peace, success and happiness. But it takes some willpower and self-care, both inside and outside of the workplace.

How to Keep Business Burnout at Bay

Make a Schedule and Stick To It

Have you ever jotted down all the tasks for the day, looked at your to-do list, and felt even more overwhelmed than when you started? If you’re like a lot of people, a list isn’t the best way to help yourself. Instead, a schedule is what you need. To make a schedule, block out increments of time that you’ll spend on individual tasks.

The key to time management is sticking to the schedule. If you think of something important while you’re in the middle of doing something, set it aside. Keep a pad of sticky notes on your desk and jot it down for later. Then, once you’ve spent your prescheduled amount of time on your task, take another look at your schedule and make adjustments as necessary.

It’s okay to reevaluate your schedule throughout the day. As a business owner, some emergency is bound to come up. But you don’t have to rearrange your entire life around one sudden work issue. This brings us to the next point.

Small Business Deals


As a business owner, you hire employees for a reason. If you have piles of work to do but you see staff members sitting around doing nothing, you have a problem. Delegate critical tasks to trusted staff members and ensure some measure of accountability that said tasks are completed within a reasonable amount of time.

Sure, managing employees takes time and effort, but it’s than if you were to do everything on your own. If your employees are competent and productive, you’ll make excellent returns.

Sleep Enough

It’s a simple fact: human beings need to sleep. Showing up to work or driving your car without adequate sleep actually hinders your cognition in a similar way to alcohol intoxication. Additionally, did you know that you can actually accumulate something called “sleep debt,” which results from too many missed hours of sleep?

Signs of sleep debt include compromised focus, stress, daytime sleepiness, and inflammation. The good news is that you can make up missed hours of sleep, but unfortunately, you can’t fully recover all the necessary bodily functions such as attention span and daytime alertness. The best fix is to make sure you get enough sleep in the first place.

Stay Inspired

With all the work you undertake as a startup owner, it can be hard sometimes to remember why you do what you do. Don’t become jaded. Instead, combat complacency by writing down the reason you started a business in your field. Display this piece of writing prominently in your office to remind yourself that you and your work matter.

Additionally, make it a point to meditate. Mindful meditation is an excellent way to ease anxiety and reduce stress. To start, sit with your back straight, either against your chair or cross-legged on the floor. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. If other thoughts begin to run through your mind, don’t push them away; instead, let them pass and remain focused on the act of inhaling and exhaling.

Practice mindful meditation for at least 20 minutes once a week to begin. If you find it helps significantly, expand to longer sessions of 45 minutes. As you get the hang of it, start by increasing meditation to three days per week, and then every day if you’d like.

Final Thoughts

As it turns out, it’s fairly simple to prevent business burnout — but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. After all, it comes down to setting boundaries and taking care of yourself, which is always easier said than done.

But as a startup owner, it’s absolutely critical to take these steps to avoid business burnout. Not only will you experience more business success, but you’ll also feel better, which will help you work better. That should be reason enough to keep stress at bay.

Stressed Photo via Shutterstock


Larry Alton Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

3 Reactions
  1. Delegating is the only cure for burnout. But I am not saying it is going to be easy. You have to delegate the task to someone with proper training. That’s the only way to go.

  2. Its a nice topic because it gives me a positive outlook to find strategies easily and effortlessly to put a stop to business burnout.

  3. Great article. Thank you for pointing out. I have forgotten some of them. Actually “Burnout can cause depression and anxiety, as well as detachment, lack of enthusiasm and disengagement from work and life” the lack of enthusiasm could be really crucial. If there is no will to motivate you there is really no point of continue doing anything.. that was a problem for me at least.