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Avoiding Small Business Burnout

/ / Marketing, Small Business, Social, Systems
Small Business Burnout

Running a business can lead to a very demanding lifestyle. There are numerous considerations to think about and that often leads to business owners becoming tired. This is not uncommon. The trouble starts when you’ve become so tired that you burn out.

This can have a major impact upon your business and be disastrous on your long term career prospects.

 

What Is Small Business Burnout?

A little stress in our lives is good for us and can help us to become innovative. But too much and for too long will make you feel overwhelmed and unable to meet demands. Burnout occurs when you’ve been under excessive stress for a protracted length of time.

The longer that you are suffering from high levels of stress, the less motivated you will feel at doing basic tasks. Research has concluded that those who are under particularly high levels of stress will stop eating. Often, those suffering from burnout will also complain of muscle and joint pain, especially in their lower back and neck.

While at work, your productivity will reduce, quality will deteriorate and you may show signs of being:

  • Helpless
  • Resentful
  • Cynical

This can cause damage to your person life, alienating friends and family.

Considering that 90% of all businesses now fail, you don’t need another potential stumbling block. Therefore, avoiding burnout should be a top priority for anyone who is looking to have a long and successful business career.

 

Who Is At Risk Of Burnout?

Studies have concluded that there is a group of individuals who are more prone to burnouts. These people include those who:

  1. Are high performers or overachievers.
  2. In the first 10 years of a career.
  3. Are between 20 and 30 years of age.

It is also common that the person suffering from burnout will not recognise the signs until it is too late.

 

What Impact Can This Have On Your Business?

There are numerous negative effects burnout can have on your business. Firstly, as previously mentioned, productivity can decrease. This means that you are producing, and therefore earning, less.

Secondly, the quality of that work will also be poorer. This will result in a higher rejection rate that will push up costs. This can be a major issue. Without a steady production of high quality goods and services, your business will not retain customers.

Research has demonstrated that price has little to do with customer retention. Customer would rather stick with a supplier that provided them with quality customer service than chance another service provider that might give them poor experiences.

 

What Can Be Done About Burnout?

One of the major problems with burnout is that the solution is not as simple as clearing the next pile of work until the next project comes along. Those with burnout are often working 14 or 16 hour days without a chance to relax. Not getting away from the business doesn’t allow the mind or body to reset and therefore be creative.

Also solving the problem just by completing the next project does not solve the cause of the burnout, only push aside one symptom. The real cause is that you are taking on too much work.

At the same time, the amount of work your company produces is necessary for its stability, growth and your lifestyle. So rejecting work from clients might not be the best option.

Instead, one of the best solutions is to limit your workload. There are several quick solutions that can offer limited relief. For instance, you could limit the times that emails are sent to your inbox, say no contract between 7pm and 7am. This might help you stop working into the late hours after an email has arrived into your inbox.

Secondly, you can enforce at least one day when you aren’t available at all. The most obvious day for business to business owners is Sunday. However if you are a retailer, this might be your busiest day, but you could take another day off.

Thirdly, you can schedule in work properly. Use scheduling tools to write in when work should be done and how long it should take. For instance, task one is done on Monday between 9 am and 10 am and task two is done between 10 am and 12noon. This structure will make you realise when projects are taking too long to complete and allows you to restructure processes to become more time efficient.

These solutions on their own will not help you in the long term and will only make you feel better in the immediate future. However, there are other activities you can do that can help you achieve a better work-life balance.

 

Getting Help

One of the biggest causes for small business burnout is that there is too much work for you to do. The simple solution to permanent fix this is to simply remove tasks from your list. But just because you have removed tasks from your list does not mean the task is going to go away – they will still need to be done.

Therefore, you’ll have to find a way for the tasks to be completed. A common solution is to automate tasks. One area that is often automated is social media. There are many programs available that can help you automate your social media accounts. However, there are concerns that just being automated will provide you with a poor return on your investments or could provide you with the wrong content.

Instead, you should look at outsourcing some of the tasks, such as your website management and online marketing. These are particularly good tasks to outsource for several reasons. These reasons include:

Expert Access To Knowledge And Skills

You manage an organisation because you are an expert in your business’ niche. While it is not impossible to be good at social media and website management, you are unlikely to be an expert. Those who provide digital marketing support are experts in their field and therefore can deliver better results for the same budget, if not less.

Research has found that UK companies have wasted £2 billion in implementing digital marketing campaigns without the proper skills. In America, a lack of digital marketing skills has resulted in employees taking 20% longer to complete tasks than professionally trained individuals would.

An example would be writing content for your site. The average typing speed is 40 words per minute. However, a professional writer can create content at 80-100 words per minute. They will also have the knowledge of what content your target audience is likely to prefer and react to. This all leads to a quicker and more effective delivery of content.

Lower Costs

Many digital marketers have access to software and equipment that is expensive when it is purchased for just one account. When the costs are spread over numerous accounts (clients) the price becomes more affordable and digital marketers pass those cost savings on to you. They’ll also include those coss within their proposal, so you don’t have to worry about paying additionally for them.

Some costs which could be reduced include:

  • Images – these are highly expensive and many small and medium businesses often fall into the trap of using images that are protected under copyright laws. Many digital marketing companies will have accounts with the big image providers and will offer to supply images as part of the package.
  • Automation software – while there are some dangers to automation, it can also be a useful tool in the right hands. However, the best automation software for certain activities like social media can be expensive to buy.
  • Website hosting – Some website companies will be able to offer you web hosting at a cheaper price than if you were to look to deal directly with a hosting company. This is because they bulk buy space on servers to use for their clients. The trouble with this is that sometimes being on a shared server can slow your site down and that can affect your bottom line.

Troubleshooting

One thing that is certainly going to cause stress is when something goes wrong – for instance, your website going offline for a short period of time. If you hired a professional marketing company to manage all your website and online marketing concerns, they’ll be able to quickly identify the problem and find a solution.

Without an outsource partner, what is likely to happen is that you will spend significant amounts of time trying to find and solve the problem. Every moment there is a problem on your website, you are losing money. This can be a huge concern if you rely on website sales.

It Prevents Trouble

There are digital marketing laws that are often not reported sufficiently to stop small businesses from making mistakes. In some cases, these mistakes can cost the business thousands, if not more. A professional digital marketing organisation will know what the legal responsibility of your company is.

They will also help you to perform white hat marketing. This is a strategy where you are using ethically accepted techniques to grow awareness of your business. Many businesses find themselves removed from Google rankings because they have used black hat (unethical) SEO techniques.

Another example would be content writing. It used to be the practice that content was generated by small businesses by copying content from one site and perhaps changing a few words to make it pass a plagiarism checker.

However, under many terms and conditions on websites, this is not legally or socially acceptable and could end up with the company infringing on the copyright to be sued. Any professional marketing business would not endorse this style of marketing.

They Can Help Other Business Areas

While online marketing and website providers will only provide support for your marketing needs, they are likely to be run by highly experienced business leaders. These individuals will likely be very helpful if you had other questions that were outside of the marketing realm.

For instance, you might want to look for some good accounting software or service provider. A good marketing company might have a couple of relevant clients on their books or they have another recommended provider.

This means you could solve problems in other areas of your business by having a single contact.

They’ll Know Changes In The Industry Before You

A final benefit of outsourcing your online marketing efforts is that you are getting access to someone who will keep up with the latest developments within the industry. This frees up your time from keeping on top of these developments and provides you with reassurance that you will generate a professional and modern profile.

For instance, there are numerous changes to website design best practices every year. A website manager will know when your website needs to be adjusted to keep up with those demands and be more successful in the market.

Another example would be the recent Google update that focused on rewarding companies who had a mobile ready website.

 

Conclusion

Your business’ success relies on you not being too stressed and burning out. If you do burn out, then your productivity and quality of work will suffer. It can be hard to get out of the downward spiral of stress; however, you can start by being organised and limiting the amount of time you are working on the business.

Another step would be to outsource some of the business functions to external experts. Such functions include your website management and online marketing. This will help you tap into expert knowledge and skills while you benefit from a greater return on investment than you could expect.

Experts will also help you avoid making mistakes that you might not realise break digital marketing laws or are socially unacceptable.

Choosing a digital marketing expert is a tough task. You need a team of experts who are qualified and have a proven track record of delivering results to clients. That is why Aflua should be one of the companies you consider. We have a track record of promoting businesses through our top of the range designed websites and expert content and social media marketing campaigns.

We’ve even partnered up with some of the best providers to deliver other services such as video production.

So contact us today about your digital marketing needs to see how we can help you grow your business online.

Jake Burdess

Director at Aflua
This post is by Jake Burdess, the founder of Aflua and HEROIC. Jake is an English designer who lives in New Zealand with his wife and three kids.

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