SCORE Small Business Blog

Managing: Avoid Business Owner Burnout
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Your Path as a Business Owner

Choosing to go into business for you is a major decision that usually means a commitment to hard work and long hours. As you struggle to build your business, however, you also must be careful not to overdo it and succumb to business owner burnout. In most cases the business is always on your mind. It’s vital to take some time off to recharge your personal batteries.

But there’s a problem. Many business owners are afraid to leave, even for a short period. They fear that something will go wrong or they’ll miss out on that next big opportunity or miss speaking with their most valuable customer. They are afraid that employees will not manage the business as well or make the best decisions. With so much to do, how can an entrepreneur ever relax?

According to a survey conducted by American Express, 40 percent of the smallest business owners—those with less than $200,000 in annual revenues—plan no vacation time whatsoever in any given year. And even those who do schedule a break never really get away. One of every three link vacation time to a business trip and half will check in with the office at least once a day, if not several times.

According to the American Express survey, these are the vacation-blocking concerns cited most often by business owners:

  • There is no other competent person to leave in charge and others will make the wrong decisions.
  • An important client or customer will not receive appropriate service.
  • The business will miss a new opportunity.
  • A problem will occur without anyone to solve the problem.

Despite these concerns, you can schedule a refreshing getaway with some careful advance planning. For example, draw up a list of worst-case scenarios and brief those in charge on the possibilities and chief concerns of each customer. Offer a list of professionals that can be contacted for advice, if necessary.

Tell key clients or customers in advance of any extended time away you are planning. Introduce your stand-ins and express your confidence in their ability to handle any issues that may arise. If you never delegate important tasks to others at your business, you can’t expect them to fill your shoes when you take time off. To create a saner schedule for yourself, and achieve a comfort level that good things will happen when you’re not there, learning to delegate responsibilities is vital. Another option may be to close for vacation and allow everyone time off. One week during a slow time may be the solution to an entrepreneur that does not feel their employees are capable of running the business effectively in case a critical decision needs to be made.

Julie BranderBusiness Mentor, SCORE New Haven
Julie has been a SCORE volunteer since 1997. She has 20 years of experience in business, starting a manufacturing, wholesale and retail jewelry company. After selling her business, she dedicated herself to helping other entrepreneurs start and expand their business. | @juliebrander | More from Julie

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Discussion (1) Comment

  1. Annie AmenVisitor

    I’d like to add that having a very detailed and thorough operations manual in place can greatly ease that stress. Employees then have a quick way to reference how to handle various situations and procedures allowing them to follow the exact course of action that you as the business owner would do. Knowing they have your directions at hand in case a question or issue arises can take a lot of stress off of you while you’re away. It will also help your employees to feel more confident and at ease managing the business while you’re gone.


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