Becoming an entrepreneur means being your own boss, making your own schedule, and doing things your way. For most people, it’s a freedom that brings an incredible sense of relief, but running a business comes with plenty of stress of its own. As a small business owner, you’re responsible for every aspect of your company’s success. All that pressure leads many entrepreneurs to work long hours day after day, year after year to build, operate, and grow their business. However, such a high level of stress isn’t sustainable, and it’s one reason why, according to the Small Business Administration, half of new businesses don’t make it passed the first five years. Thankfully, there are ways to manage stress without sacrificing progress. Here are four ways business owners can prevent burnout and meet their goals:
1. Automate Tasks
Administrative tasks can eat up an enormous amount of time, but they aren’t earning you money. To make the most of their valuable time, business owners should focus their energy on tasks that are profitable and delegate the rest. However, not everyone can afford to hire office staff, especially when just getting a business off the ground. Automating tasks like employee scheduling, invoicing, and email marketing with software is an affordable alternative to full- or part-time staff. With the exception of open source options, software can be expensive, so prioritize automating the tasks that consume the most time.
2. Hire Help
Automation is a great time-saver, but some jobs require a human touch. Contract workers are an excellent tool for outsourcing tasks without investing in the office space, insurance, and benefits required when hiring traditional employees. Contract workers are a great option for skilled jobs that don’t require a physical presence to complete, like tax preparation services and social media management. And while contractors often come at a premium price, it’s likely to be more cost-effective than doing it yourself. For example, while it might take a business owner eight hours (for example) a week to manage the company’s social media accounts, a social media contractor can produce higher-quality results in significantly fewer hours.
An automated email reply or professional voicemail message lets people know when to expect a response so they’re not left hanging.
3. Set a Schedule
A constantly-ringing phone means constant interruptions. Business owners should set designated times for meeting with clients and taking phone calls and stick to them. An automated email reply or professional voicemail message lets people know when to expect a response so they’re not left hanging. If it’s in-person interruptions you’re battling, consider working from a home office. When you work from home, you not only can create a quiet setting free of distractions, but you can also work during the hours you’re most productive rather than adhering to strict business hours.
4. Plan Downtime
Downtime is the key to sustaining productivity long-term, but as a business owner, you don’t get to clock out at the end of the day and leave work behind. That means entrepreneurs must be intentional about carving out time for rest and relaxation. The Harvard Business Review reports that time off increases productivity, creativity, and focus by providing an opportunity to step away from work and look at the big picture. Downtime can be a vacation, but it can also mean scheduling short breaks into each day and week. Use the Pomodoro Technique to alternate bursts of work with short breaks to fight distraction throughout the day, and designate one day a week that you don’t go into the office, check emails, or answer work calls.
Being productive doesn’t have to mean working around the clock. When you implement strategies like these, you increase your business’ capacity to grow while keeping your own stress in check.
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