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

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

As a small business owner, you may have suffered work burnout. At the very least, you’ve seen the effects of burnout on your team or others in the workplace.

According to a new Xero survey released today, you’re not alone. The majority of small businesses (77 percent) feel the effects of burnout at work — at least some of the time.

Exhaustion, lack of energy, not enough time with friends and family, disillusionment and lower motivation are just some of the effects of work burnout.

Vacations are one way to cope with burnout; 98 percent of owners say they help. Yet taking vacation is a mixed bag because of not having anyone to take the owner’s place. But many owners cope by using technology to stay in touch.

If you persist in your business, it seems to get better. Age and time correlate to burnout levels, according to the survey.

The older the business owner, the less likely the owner reported work burnout.  Baby boomers (over age 50) reported burnout at a rate of 59 percent. Gen Xers (age 35 – 50) said 84 percent of them suffered burnout at some point in the last year. And an overwhelming 94 percent of millennials (age 18 – 34) felt burned out at least some of the time.

The survey does not indicate why older business owners report less work burnout. One possibility might be due to having greater experience in business and in life. Older entrepreneurs may have developed the ability to put problems into perspective and find solutions.  In other words, they may better manage the stresses that lead to burnout.

Yet conversely, as the small business itself ages, owner burnout seems to increase for a while, at least until the business gets very mature. The effect is like a bell curve. Seventy-eight percent of owners of startups (businesses less than two years old) report burnout. That percentage increases as the business ages. Businesses around from years 2 to 10 experience the highest burnout, at 86 percent.  But once the business passes the 10-year mark, it gets better. Owner burnout drops significantly after 10 years, to 65 percent.

That’s not too surprising when you consider small business survival rates. The first 10 years are rough on small businesses. About 80 percent fail within 10 years. It could be that once you get past the 10-year point, the stresses of keeping a business alive decline. And after 10 years the owner has figured out how to better cope with work burnout.

The Xero survey dealt with small businesses of up to 20 employees. Over 550 owners located in the United States responded to the survey. Some were Xero accounting software users, others not.

Xero  (XRO: NZE) is a cloud accounting software provider founded in 2006 in New Zealand.  The company grew from helping a handful of small businesses in New Zealand. Today it has over 1 million subscribers worldwide to its cloud accounting software platform.

Stressed Photo via Shutterstock

Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.