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Ask SCORE - Keeping business burnout at bay

November 09, 2008|By BOB POOR

Q: As a small-business owner, I am afraid that I am headed "down the trail" to a good case of burnout. Any ideas on how I can best fight burnout?

A: We hear a great deal about the rewards of running your own business. However, you must also be aware of the trade-offs and sacrifices that come with being in charge. Over time, those long hours, missed weekends and pressure-packed deadlines may take their toll on your physical and emotional health, affecting relations with your employees, family and friends in the process. Fortunately, there are many good ways to keep business burnout at bay.

· Identify the stressors. What aspects of running your business regularly cause discomfort or even anxiety? Perhaps you dread mundane tasks like bookkeeping and filing reports, or having to make sales calls. You might have customers who are hard to deal with or don't pay invoices on time. And, because you are responsible for everything your business does, you might find yourself obsessing about things beyond your control.

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· Delegate. One cure for an overburdened mind is to shed some of the responsibilities. Members of your staff with specific skills or leadership potential might be good candidates to take on specific functions. If you are a solo entrepreneur, it might be time to hire your first employee or outsource your administrative work.

· Schedule some "me" time and stick with it. You probably follow a regular maintenance schedule for your equipment, so why not treat yourself the same way? A monthly lunch get-together with colleagues or even a quick walk around the block can do wonders to refresh your mind and spirit.

· Look for new opportunities. Sometimes, problems or challenges are not the cause of burnout; it is the lack of them. Consider expanding or enhancing your product and service lines. Make sure you plan staffing and resources to support any new venture so that you don't unnecessarily add to your personal workload.

· Consult your doctor. Regular checkups, eating right and sensible exercise will not only preserve your good health, but will also help you better manage the demands of daily life.

· Seek expert advice. Many sources of burnout are common to entrepreneurs and you can learn from their experiences. SCORE offers confidential one-on-one counseling and other valuable resources to help you resolve your small business dilemmas. Call today - 301-739-2015, ext. 102.

Robert A. "Bob" Poor is a small-business counselor and a regular contributor to the Ask SCORE column. Questions may be e-mailed to him at r.poor@myactv.net or by mail in care of The Herald-Mail, P.O. Box 439, Hagerstown, MD 21741, ATTN: Ask SCORE column. The Ask SCORE column appears every second Sunday of the month.

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