I always wanted to work for myself.
Then I did. I started Social Triggers, built a great business, and made a lot of money.
I should have been happy…
…but I wasn’t.
A Day In The Life as an Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurs are now rock stars.
Just look at Elon Musk, Mark Cuban, or Richard Branson. These guys are more than business people. They are icons that people look up to for more than their success.
Life as an entrepreneur isn’t as glamorous as these personas will have you believe.
Don’t get me wrong – I love it. I love the freedom to make my own rules. I love making an impact. I love helping people.
But it’s a rollercoaster for sure!
I’ll go from…
“I’m sooo excited”
“Ugh this is harder than I thought.”
“Oops. I messed up.”
“I think I’m going bankrupt”
“Wait a second. My life is GREAT!”
…all in the same day!
Can you relate?
Being an entrepreneur is hard.
Practically. Psychologically. Emotionally.
Honestly, I don’t think it’s for everyone – and that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with NOT running a business.
But if you have that burning desire to create something out of nothing and build something that you own… Then you ARE an entrepreneur.
So, from one entrepreneur to another, I have an important message for you:
Keep your entrepreneurial flame alive!
Because NOTHING can replace it.
You have to do whatever it takes to keep the fire within you burning.
I know first-hand how hard this is, especially when you work at something for a long time.
My Big Confession – How I Lost My Way
I started Social Triggers in 2011.
And things went great…
Until about a year ago, when I got BORED of my own content.
And I lost my path.
Here’s a video where I describe the full story in about 60 seconds:
(As you can see, this daily YouTube show is how I reignited my flame. I take you behind the scenes of what it’s like to be an entrepreneur. If you want more, raw, unfiltered, authentic business advice, subscribe here. What should you expect? Well, here’s one video: How I made $500,000 from one blog post.. But, still, you should subscribe.
Now, back to the point…
Chances are you’re reading this because you’re an entrepreneur, who’s building his or her business, too. Or maybe you’re a creator or freelancer and you want to make a bigger impact with your work.
If that’s the case, I’ve got some GOOD news and some BAD news for you…
The good news?
Your desire to create is your biggest advantage.
You look for the solution when everyone else only sees the problem. You see opportunity where others see obstacles. When they say “This doesn’t work,” you immediately think, “Let’s figure out how it COULD work!” – and roll up your sleeves. This mindset is rare. It’s powerful. You need to protect it.
The BAD news is:
As an entrepreneur, you’re at a higher risk of burnout than almost any other group.
Especially as a solo-preneur. I’ll explain WHY and what you can do to prevent it or reverse it below…
You see, when you’re your own boss, nobody’s telling you how to think. Nobody’s making decisions for you. No one’s even telling you what to work on.
EVERY decision is on YOU.
“Should I chase down that customer?”
“Should I check on the new product launch?”
“Should I wear pants today?”
Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.
And it’s not like you ever get a break. While others can “switch off” after 5pm, as an entrepreneur, you’re constantly ON. Plus, you’re constantly focused on one thing and one thing only – building your business. Tunnel vision. All. The. Time.
But there’s something even MORE STRESSFUL than a daunting, never-ending to-do list:
Besides doing the actual work, people expect you to keep a facade of high-energy, success, and confidence. But as you and I know, it’s not always smooth sailing…
And as your business grows, the stakes get higher, too:
As you grow, it becomes about more than you. Suddenly lots of other people RELY on your decisions, too. In other words, your decisions don’t just affect YOUR life now. They affect your partner, your family, and your employees.
All of these factors can WEAR YOU DOWN if you’re not careful.
So, it should be no surprise that entrepreneurs are a high-risk group when it comes to BURNOUT, as studies show. But that’s exactly why It’s VITAL that you notice the symptoms early.
When I saw it in myself, it was almost too late. In fact, I recall telling a friend, “Maybe I’ll just shut the whole thing down.”
That’s how TIRED I was of my own business!
Luckily, I didn’t shut it down. And I’m slowly rediscovering WHY I started Social Triggers in the first place: to help you be the exception.
So, let my story be a warning to you.
Are You at Risk of Burning Out? Ask Yourself These 9 Questions
“Me? Burned out? Get out of here!”
I didn’t really know what it meant to be burned out. All I knew is that I lost my motivation. Slowly, at first…
But it got bad quickly. Really bad.
So, I looked into the science of “burnout.” I wanted to know what was really going on with me. What I found can help you figure out if you’re at risk… and what you can do about it.
First, what is burnout?
As it turns out burnout is a form of DEPRESSION.
Yes, I know that’s a big, scary word. People are afraid to say it. But let’s not sugarcoat anything – the science is pretty clear on this.
The cause is pretty clear, too:
Burnout is the result of long-term, unresolvable STRESS at work.
It’s way more common than you may think. According to the Harvard Business Review, about 50% of people are burned out.
(This data includes traditional employees, too. So the number among entrepreneurs and freelancers is likely to be much higher.)
This is to say: You’re far from alone if you’re feeling burned out.
So what are the symptoms?
Here are 9 questions you should ask yourself:
- Are you exhausted all the time?
- Do you feel more anxious about your business than you used to?
- Do you feel overwhelmed and indecisive?
- Are you struggling to focus?
- Are you having headaches?
- Are you suffering from sleeplessness?
- Are you getting angry about small stuff that used to not bother you?
- Are you emotionally more and more disengaged from your business?
- Do you feel totally frustrated, stuck, or uncreative at work?
Now, the symptoms may be different for everyone.
For me? I couldn’t sleep.
No, not like I had a hard time falling asleep. I couldn’t sleep. At all. There were weeks during which I got a total of 6 hours of sleep. As you can imagine, it impacted my work in a massive way. I needed to make a change.
If your answer is “yes” to 4 or more of the questions above, it’s probably time for you to make a change as well.
I have some suggestions.
How to Re-Ignite Your Entrepreneurial Flame
So what can you do?
Let me give some insanely practical advice. I want to share 6 ways to prevent – or recover from – entrepreneurial burnout. Each tip is either backed by research or my own experience.
The good news is, by reading this, you’ve already taken the first step…
#1: Notice (and Admit) It Early
You’re reading this.
So, my guess is:
You or someone you know is going through entrepreneurial burnout… and you’ve NOTICED IT.
That’s the first step.
Look, being an entrepreneur IS stressful. But there’s good stress and bad stress. Good stress pushes you to create your best work and gives you a feeling of fulfillment or joy. Bad stress just makes you age faster.
Sure, we all have bad days. But when you feel uninspired or unmotivated EVERY DAY… Something needs to change.
Now, the hard part is:
When you notice it, you have to ADMIT that it’s happening.
The sooner you admit it, the better.
This is where I struggled. I was probably burned out for a year before I admitted it to myself. Once I did, I was finally able to make the changes I needed to make in order to find back to my old self.
When you run a business, you’re at a higher risk of burnout. Probably more than half of all entrepreneurs people go through it at some point. So, it’s not just you. In fact, it’s totally normal.
#2 Commit to Making a Change
It’s time to make a change. So what can you do?
First, you need to identify the root cause.
You see, we know that stress leads to burnout. But where is all the stress coming from?
Well, research shows that the root cause of ALL stress is a mismatch between you and what you do.
For example, it may be a mismatch in TIME.
If you’re constantly running out of time, not delivering projects by their deadline, or showing up late for appointments, there’s a mismatch between your time and your work. This causes stress. Over time it will lead to burnout.
As another example, there may be a mismatch between your effort and your results.
In other words, if you’re working your butt off with little to no results for a long time… eventually you’ll burn out.
Look, there are a lot of things in business you CAN’T control – accept it. To prevent burnout, you need to focus on things you CAN control. So…
- Don’t rely on platforms you don’t own
- Don’t chase customers that will never buy
- Don’t try to sell a product nobody wants
Now, I don’t know exactly what’s causing stress for you. But I’d bet that it’s some kind of mismatch. It could be a mismatch in time, control, values, confidence, or something else.
Figure out what it is. Then eliminate it.
Once you do that, you’ll be able to…
#3 Give Yourself Some Room To Breathe
When you’re working for yourself it’s tempting to work all the time. I call this the “I’m so busy” trap. It’s the fast track to entrepreneurial burnout. That’s why you need to take some guilt-free time off.
In my experience, when you’re already burned out, even a few days off won’t reignite your entrepreneurial flame.
In fact, I went on a vacation last year. I came back feeling great. I was ready to DO THIS. Yeah… the energy lasted for about half a day, and I was right back in the same rut.
That’s why making a real change to your work – by realigning the mismatch that’s CAUSING all the stress like I talked about above – is so important.
Here’s something that might help:
I often see – especially new entrepreneurs – agreeing to projects and meetings they don’t really want to do. I used to do this all the time and get really p*ssed off at myself for it.
Then I jumped on the “No train” and learned how to politely say no. It made a huge difference for me.
#4 Connect With Others
If I didn’t have to I’d never leave the house. That’s part of the reason Social Triggers is a remote company. Meaning, I’m in New York City, my employees are spread across the country.
Overall, this is great for everyone. Thanks to collaborative tools like Slack, Google, etc. there’s really no “technical” reason we need to be in the same place. But it comes with one big challenge.
We discovered this in one of our weekly team meetings. Every team member had the same experience… including myself. Research data backs this up, too. Feeling lonely can reduce your happiness at work by 12%.
That’s why as an entrepreneur, it’s important you build yourself a support network and connect with like-minded people.
If you’re a solopreneur, go out and meet others in your industry. Not to network. Just to feel like you’re not alone. It will keep you motivated and your ideas flowing.
Here’s a cool thing we did at Social Triggers:
To create a more collaborative space, we started a #callforhelp slack channel.
Anytime someone has a question, needs some quick input or feedback, they can post it there. Whoever on the team has the time or can offer some feedback can jump in. It’s been a great tool for us. You could start a group like this with your co-workers or like-minded entrepreneurs.
But it’s not just about the support AT WORK.
It’s just as important to spend time with supportive friends and family. The key word is: supportive.
Seriously. There are some people who like to take a big fat firehose to your entrepreneurial flame.
I say, f*%$ ’em.
So, ditch the haters. Here’s how.
#5 Make Life Easy
Remember, burnout is a result of constant stress. Both at work and OUTSIDE of work. That’s why I always try to reduce the “everyday struggle.” Aka I just keep things as simple as possible.
I try to limit my decisions. Kind of like Barack Obama only wears gray or blue suits:
You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.
For example, I wear the same, black v-neck t-shirts every day.
The bigger point is:
Think about what’s stressing you out outside of work. Then, think of a solution. How can you make your life easier?
If it makes my life easier, I’m willing to spend money on it, too. That’s my rule. Because being cheap will only stress you out more.
#6 Fuel Your Passion
Do you even remember WHY you do what you do?
Entrepreneurial burnout is the result of letting all the small stuff stress you out to the point where you forget why you started in the first place.
That’s what happened to me. I was so busy growing my business, I forgot why I started creating content in the first place.
I still created a lot of valuable content for all my courses. But all the FUN got lost along the way. I got bored. And people noticed.
Looking back, something really strange had happened:
I was working all the time. But I didn’t enjoy it. So, I kept telling myself, I’ll do the “fun stuff” when I’m done with the “work stuff.” But, I rarely got to it. I thought the “fun” was the reward for the work…
But I had it backward. The fun is the FUEL.
Light. Bulb. Moment.
This was the wake-up call I needed. I remembered how much FUN it was to create videos. I remembered how much I enjoyed the process.
That’s when I decided to start my daily vlog. Maybe I’m crazy. It’s a lot of work, for sure! But it’s giving me energy, instead of draining it.
And that’s my final piece of advice if you’re feeling burned out:
Do something fun.
Go back and ask yourself why you started your business. Or why you do what you do. I’ll bet you, you started because it was fun, too, right?
See if you can tap into THAT feeling again.
Then, make it a priority. Don’t just do the “fun stuff” as a reward. Because the fun is your fuel.
Entrepreneur burnout is real – and it’s brutal.
I experience it first hand. So I hope this was helpful for you. Now I want to hear from you…
Are you in a rut right now? Did you experience burnout in the past? What did YOU do to get inspired again?
Please share your story in the comments.