5 tips to avoid burnout in your small business

As a small business, the impact that one individual employee has on the company’s overall performance is more significant than in a large corporate environment. This often means that there’s an increased pressure to perform on the individuals within a small business. If this pressure continues for too long, it can lead to a lack of motivation at best, and burnout at worst.

So, if having energised owners, managers and employees is absolutely crucial to the sustainable success of your small business, how can you achieve this? Here are five tips to avoid burnout and maximise results in your business:

1. Outsource where you can

If you find that you, or your team, are struggling to cope with your current workload, consider outsourcing certain functions where you can, even if it’s just temporarily. For example, you could hire a freelancer or an intern to help you manage your social media, or use a tax professional to get your books in order. While you’ll have to pay for these extra resources, the relatively small financial investment will deliver massive returns by removing the pressure off you and your staff and freeing up time for you all to concentrate on core business matters. You may even find you generate more money than it costs to outsource those functions, which translates to higher profits with lower stress.

2. Hold an offsite strategy session

Any small business owner knows how crucial it is to have a growth strategy in place, but very few make the time to create it, or ensure the business is sticking to it. Having an offsite strategy session every 4 - 6 months is a good way of keeping everybody in your business focused on the bigger picture to make sure you're not getting side-tracked by day-to-day tasks that are adding to the pressure, without delivering the desired results. And by having this session away from the office, it also serves as a valuable break from the daily routine, allowing you and your staff to take a breath, regroup and enjoy a change of scenery.

3. Work in sprints

In the product development world, a sprint is a set period of time in which a specific piece of work has to be completed before it’s reviewed. You can use this logic of sprints in any work environment. Try spending short, focused periods of time dedicated to completing a single task. 'Sprint' for a set time, then take a break before the next focused session. For example, Instead of keeping your head down for a full three hours, you could try working for six 25-minute sprints, with a five-minute break between each one.

4. Take a long weekend

If you were involved in starting your business, you’re probably not that keen to leave it in the hands of anyone else. But, while taking a day or two away from the office may seem indulgent (or scary), a short break can actually be remarkably effective at refilling your energy reserves and increasing your productivity levels when you return. While you’re away, be strict with yourself and disconnect as much as you can, perhaps by taking email (and any other distracting work apps) off your phone and only answering phone calls if they’re really important.

5. Stay healthy and fit

Do you wake up feeling exhausted? Are you running on caffeine and adrenaline? Being run down and low on energy reserves is one sure way to encourage nasty bugs and illnesses, because your immune system is weakened. Make your physical and mental health a priority. Go to sleep at a decent hour, eat wholesome food, and exercise regularly. Meditation and mindfulness are also useful tools to help manage stress and increase vitality. It may be difficult to step away from work for those few hours a week; but you'll quickly make them up with enhanced productivity thanks to an energised mind and body. 

A small business’s success is hugely influenced by the mindset of its owners, managers and staff. Burnout can be difficult to recover from, no matter what your role is within the company. Like anything, prevention is always the best strategy. So, be sure to follow this advice and put some measures in place to make sure you and your employees stay healthy, positive and productive.

Another great way to remove some of the stress and distraction from your employees' lives is to give them the peace of mind that comes from knowing they and their loved ones are financially protected. Old Mutual SME StaffCover underwritten by Old Mutual Alternative Risk Transfer Limited offers affordable life, disability and funeral cover for employees of small businesses. Go to www.oldmutualstaffcover.co.za to get a quote or apply for this valuable, inexpensive cover for your staff. Or leave your details below and we’ll give you a call.

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