How could the thing I wanted so badly turn into my biggest headache?
I remember sitting in the turning lane, heading home after my third trip to the post office that day, and I started cursing everything about my start-up--customers, suppliers, web platform, marketing campaigns, and the list goes on and on. What happened?
We all encounter it in some form or fashion. I'm a firm believer that people have a finite amount of energy and feel-good hormones. When riding the "high" of launching a new start-up, we tend to max out our oxytocin and adrenaline levels, while surviving on three hours of sleep, granola bars, and whiskey. As an entrepreneur, I feel the scoring such a "rush" off a new business launch is only natural; I think most people would agree that opening your own business is both the most exciting and terrifying thing one may encounter. A prudent, self-controlled business owner would carefully pace themselves through the start-up; I, on the other hand, operate under two speeds--full speed ahead and STOP--thus I find "pacing" myself essentially impossible. This is OK. If you're a passionate hard-charger, don't be discouraged; acknowledge that burnout is a natural occurrence, and take some time OFF (yes, you heard me!).
Two weeks into my first retail venture, I CLOSED the shop for Christmas week. My husband and I took a few days off, drove up to the Appalachian Mountains and hit the slopes. I didn't check e-mail, and I kept my phone turned off for the entire trip. Sure, I lost three customers due to the vacation; however, I came back fresh and ready to go, and ended up growing my customer base by 100+ in the weeks that followed.
Your business can only be as good as you are. You've got to take care of yourself. No one can be all things to all people all the time. When burnout creeps in, and you feel as if your lifelong dream just turned into a horrible nightmare, STOP what you're doing. Take time off. It's okay if you lose a few customers. When you return, fresh and optimistic, those few customer lost will easily be replaced on an exponential scale.
You became an entrepreneur so you could have control over your life. Don't let your business control you. While it may not seem like the "responsible" thing to do in the moment, when burnout hits, push the business to the backburner. Your business will become great because you are great--not vice versa. Take care of yourself!
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