How to Avoid Entrepreneurial Burnout

How To Avoid Entrepreneurial Burnout

Entrepreneurial burnout is something every SME business owner will experience. It isn’t really a question of if it’s going to happen to you. It’s more like a ‘when’. Building any business from the ground up requires a hell of a lot of hard work, especially when you’re covering virtually every role. So how do you avoid entrepreneurial burnout? Or at least reduce the impact and recognise when you need to intervene?

Since any business is made of various cogs in the wheel, at the beginning it’s more than likely that the entrepreneur is doing everything on their own. But one thing that is crucial to managing the anxiety that can cause burnout in the first place is having a clear strategy in place from the outset. 

Easier said than done, and more often the case of playing catch up once you are already having sleepless nights and need to figure out how to keep focussed.

Here are some top tips for doing just that. Establishing these practices early on will help mitigate the likelihood of a true burnout, and at the very least should reduce the intensity when one happens.

Define Personal Work Values

You wouldn’t dream of building a business without having a clear set of purpose, vision, and values would you? (And if you haven’t, that’s another story. Check out our article on why this is the most important aspect to have nailed down for any business.)

The same can be said for defining your own personal work values. Like what things are you not willing to compromise on in your non-work life? Hint, hint: a quarterly holiday should be one of them. You should ideally identify the things that you are willing to do and won’t do for the sake of the business. 

Some areas for consideration for many is having a family or delaying the start of one. It could be cherishing your weekends and keeping those sacred off days. Sticking to a strict traditional workday and establishing a boundary with clients between your personal and professional time, which includes the hours in which you respond. Have a turnover goal at which point you will hire your first employee or use freelancers. There are a whole host of questions to ask yourself here.

Get A Life

Everyone needs to have a life outside of work, otherwise what’s it all for? If you can be present in your downtime with your significant others it allows for real personal growth and gives your mind a chance to switch off. And we mean properly switch off. 

Constantly thinking about your business is a surefire way to overcook yourself and set yourself up for chronic anxiety and stress which will manifest physically. Working yourself silly through illness and 24/7 is not mindful of your own mental health. Your business will only suffer for it when your mind is clouded and poor decision making happens as a result.

It isn’t sustainable to do so in the long run either, so establishing these parameters early on will also help your clients understand from the start how you operate. This is easier than reining them in after being accessible at all hours and then suddenly changing it up. 

So the lesson here is that the sooner you get a handle on what matters to you most and work within those boundaries, the better you will be long term.

Put Effort Into Work Self-Development

Business owners and company leaders who fail to improve themselves will fail to make the business as inspiring or as profitable as possible could be. You can’t do this by being ‘on’ all the time.

Being a great owner or leader means understanding that you have to have balance and that all aspects of your life are successful.

Some great places to start below will help you make smart choices and inspire others.


Invest your personal time in the things that speak to you, the hobbies you love most, even when taking a micro-break. Read, learn, do any activity you need to in order to get your mind away from work when doing so, and you’ll feel far more refreshed and ready to take on the rest of your day or week as a result.

A business owner or leader who is depleted of their emotional, spiritual, and physical wellbeing is one who isn’t going to function at their highest level in the workplace. 


Mentally rehearsing important moments, meetings, or anything valuable that is work-related where anxiety might set in or is of critical importance to the success of your business is a useful tool.

Think about how athletes have utilised this to great effect. When you mentally visualise the desired outcome over and over until it seems real, it can improve the consistency of your behaviours and inspire your actions. 

Getting down to intricate detail is even better when it comes to the effectiveness of this tool. The more real it feels the more likely you are to embed this into your actions and reactions.


When you have too many obligations on the calendar, there can be a point where some tasks feel like a hassle or something that you would rather procrastinate on. 

When there are too many commitments and activities on your work calendar and they start to overwhelm it’s time to step aside and let someone take the reins where possible. Reducing your workload and ridding yourself of the ‘little jobs that take up your time and aren’t that necessary for you to do to grow the business are easy wins that free up your space and time whether for more important work or for personal growth.

Avoid Entrepreneurial Burnout

The best way to avoid entrepreneurial burnout is to recognise that preventative measures and strategising do work.

You don’t have to be a statistic and become sleep-deprived, anxious, cynical, and inefficient when you choose to take active steps that will help avoid this common stressor as a result of work overload.

If you have a team, chances are that they are feeling some of your stressors too, themselves. 

Shifting the balance of a 24/7 workday mindset is the best way to reduce the likelihood of experiencing the negative impacts that that mindset brings to any business.

All work and no play makes every SME a dull endeavour indeed!