Entrepreneurial burnout commonly plagues new business owners.

While burnout is common among entrepreneurs (almost half of entrepreneurs experience burnout). you’re particularly at risk if you’re starting your business as a side hustle in addition to working a full-time job.

While burnout might be common, that doesn’t mean you have to succumb to it.

Knowing how to handle burnout as an entrepreneur is the key to reclaiming your time and energy, and avoiding it in the future.

Entrepreneurial burnout or compassion fatigue?

It’s not uncommon for coaches, healers, therapists, and other “helping” type professionals to suffer from burnout even more so than other types of business owners.

Naturally empathetic people are often attracted to these professions because they want to help others.

But highly sensitive, highly empathetic people are even more likely to succumb to compassion fatigue and burnout if proper business boundaries are not in place.

How to tell if you’re suffering from business burnout

Burnout can exhibit symptoms beyond feeling exhausted. You might feel like you don’t enjoy the things you used to, or you can’t find the motivation to do even the smallest tasks. 

Not sure if you’re suffering from business burnout? See how many of the following statements sound like you:

  • You don’t feel like doing anything, even things you once enjoyed.
  • You seem to have lost passion for your business
  • Everything feels like a chore.
  • You are tired. All. the. Time.
  • You’re too spent to get your work done or even do pleasurable activities.
  • You used to love helping, and now you find yourself resenting your clients.
  • You have to push yourself to get through your to-do list and don’t really enjoy anything.
  • Even if you hit a goal or milestone, you still feel apathetic.
  • You can’t remember the last time you took a break (aside from sleeping at night).
  • You just want to lay on the couch and drink Pumpkin Spice Lattes and watch the Real Housewives of New Jersey.*

*insert your favorite guilty pleasure drink and reality show here.

If you checked even one box, you’re likely suffering from some type of burnout. Entrepreneurial burnout not a badge of honor, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of, either. The important thing is to become aware of its existence, and take remedies to rebalance yourself and get yourself — and your business — back on track.

To heal from business burnout, you need to make a change

Now that you can admit you are exhausted, it’s time to make a change. But change is scary, so you want to make sure you understand what’s causing your burnout in the first place, so you can avoid it in the future.

First ask yourself: What is causing my burnout?

Am I doing work that is not aligned with my zone of genius? Am I not feeling fully in alignment with my business? Am I taking on clients who drain me rather than energize me?

It’s important that you set yourself up to succeed in your business, by allowing yourself time to do the type of work that is most fulfilling to you. This might mean you need to outsource the tasks that don’t enjoy.

You also want to ensure you’re taking on the right fit clients (which are those you can best serve, and who can best be served by you). If you’re not sure you’re focusing on the right clients, it may be time to make sure you’re in the right niche.

Next ask yourself: How is my business burnout serving me?

What am I missing or not experiencing as a result of burnout? What is my level of exhaustion really telling me about my life and business?

What thoughts, feelings, or beliefs about yourself led to you being in this state? Do you feel you need to sacrifice yourself for others? Have you historically put yourself last? Are you taking on more than you can chew out of a need to prove yourself?

You might feel like it’s noble and industrious to do #allthethings but then realized that you can’t do all of them well, and without something else (you, your health, your relationships) suffering.

Sound familiar? It’s time to regain some perspective, strength, and balance. Here’s how.

10 ways to handle entrepreneurial burnout & reclaim your energy

Use this checklist to handle your business burnout so that you can go back to doing what you enjoy and enjoying what you do.

Step 1:  Go through your schedule and see what you can cut.  

You might have an extensive list of to-dos that aren’t actually must-dos. Ask yourself: How important is this? How likely is it to bring me closer to my goal? Is there something else I can do that would give me better results and be a better use of my time?

Step 2:  Strengthen your business boundaries.

Boundaries are the limits you set on your own time and energy that keep you functioning at your best. How comfortable are you saying no, even to those you love? How good are you at turning off your notifications in the evenings and on the weekends? Remember, if you don’t manage and protect your business boundaries, someone else will.

Step 3:  Proactively structure your work day.

When you work for someone else, you have limited control over your time. But when you work for yourself, it’s up to you to determine your schedule. Start by noticing your natural optimal times to work. What parts of the day do you feel energetic and focused? What times do you feel sluggish or scattered? Come up with a work schedule that maximizes your most energetic times, and allows for flexibility during the rest.

Step 4: Give yourself permission to prioritize yourself.

Ask yourself what you need and give yourself that thing. If it’s extra sleep, take a nap or go to bed early. If it’s more water, make it a point to stay hydrated. If it’s nature, build in some time outside into your daily routine. Get really good at checking in with yourself and asking what you need, so you know how to support yourself.

Step 5: Check in with your business.

Yes, you run your business. But the business itself may not be running as smoothly as it could be. Sometimes it helps to create some distance between you and the business. Try this: Next time to sit down to meditate or journal, ask your business what it needs to survive and thrive. See what it answers. Your business also needs time and energy to support you and those you serve.

Step 6: Take care of your physical body.

Every day, make sure that you get fresh air, move your body, and drink lots of water. Do what needs to be done to keep your body functioning at an optimal level. Managing your physical energy plays a huge component in successfully handling burnout and staying in good health.

Step 7: Decide to pay yourself first with your energy.

In other words, fill your own bucket. Make sure you are “full” in terms of sleep, nutrition, and time for yourself before you start giving those precious resources away to others. You cannot serve from an empty well, and you cannot support others unless you can support yourself.

Step 8: Incorporate regular breaks into your workday.

If you have the habit of sitting down at your desk and working hours before you get up, make it a habit to break your work into manageable chunks of time with braeks in between. (Research says we are most productive in 90 minute chunks.) If you haven’t had a vacation or time off in a while, take an even longer break. Your mind and body require rest in order to feel revitalized, replenished and ready for work again.

Step 9: Get real (and cut-throat) about your priorities

If you have 5 priorities, you have 4 too many. Your to-do list might have 20 things on it, but what is the one thing you absolutely need to accomplish today? Defining your ONE thing works in two ways: It forces you to name your top priority, and when you achieve said priority, you feel accomplished. Keep repeating the cycle once your one thing is complete.

Step 10: Seek professional help.

If you’ve tried all of the above and still feel burned out, I recommend you see a doctor to discuss your burnout. It’s possible you have a nutritional or hormonal imbalance, or have external stressors that you haven’t even realized. If your health checks out, you may benefit from working with a therapist or coach who can help you tackel the burnout and get back to being yourself.

Entrepreneurial burnout is common but it doesn’t have to affect you

Being an entrepreneur, and especially being a “helping” type business owner, such as a coach, healer, or therapist can be exhausting, draining, and demanding.

It’s super important that you handle business burnout when it arises. Identify remedies and practices for preventing it in the first place. That way you can stay on top of your game and help from a resourced place, while feeling calm, energized, and focused.

Setting business boundaries can definitely help you avoid burnout. You can read more about business boundaries here.