Prevent burnout with planned rests


March 12, 2011|By BOB POOR

Q: My husband and I are totally wrapped up in our small business. I am afraid that we will soon suffer burnout. Any suggestions?

A: Being your own boss has many rewards, but long hours and merciless work can affect your emotional well- being. This can result in burnout, a condition that takes a toll on you, mentally and physically.

You can safeguard your well-being by taking some time off to rest and refocus. But there's a problem. Many business owners are afraid to leave, even for a short period. They fear that something will go wrong or that they will miss out on that big opportunity. With so much to do, how can an entrepreneur relax?

According to a survey conducted by American Express, these are the vacation-blocking concerns cited most often by business owners:

  • There is no other competent person to leave in charge and others will make the wrong decisions.
  • An important client or customer will not receive appropriate service.
  • The business will miss a new opportunity.
  • An operational breakdown will occur without anyone to solve the problem.

Despite these concerns, you can schedule a refreshing getaway with some careful advance planning. For example, draw up a list of worse-case scenarios and brief those in charge on the possibilities and your chief concerns for each customer. Tell key clients or customers in advance of any extended time you are planning to be away. Introduce your stand-ins and express your confidence with their ability to handle any issues that might arise.

Delegating responsibility is a good idea, even if you already build vacation time into your schedule.

If you are suddenly faced with a huge workload or an emergency that requires your absence, you have the confidence of knowing your staff can handle these important tasks. That gives you the freedom to step out and back in without your business skipping a beat.

For more small-business management ideas, contact America's free and confidential source of small-business mentoring and coaching. SCORE offers free mentoring and low-cost workshops nationwide.

To contact the Hagerstown SCORE chapter, call 301-766-2043 or go to The national website is

Robert A. "Bob" Poor is a local small-business owner/operator. He is a small-business counselor and a regular contributor to the Ask SCORE column. Questions may be e-mailed to him at or sent by mail in care of The Herald-Mail, P.O. Box 439, Hagerstown, MD 21741, ATTN: Ask SCORE column.

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