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Burnout

How to Achieve 'Zero' Burnout: Build a business and a Life That Won't Kill You

Brian Moran's book about 'doing more in three months than others do in a year' is a great starting point, this contributor says.
How to Achieve 'Zero' Burnout: Build a business and a Life That Won't Kill You
Image credit: gradyreese | Getty Images
Guest Writer
Founder at Gemma Went Ltd
7 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

We entrepreneurs are a passionate bunch, but that passion can be a double-edged sword. Wielded skillfully and with the right mindset, passion can sustain you and your business, to be sure.

But let it run amok and your business and life will suffer.

Related: How to Recognize and Beat Burnout

I’ve seen countless entrepreneurs lose themselves and much of their social life to deadlines, to-do lists and the burning drive to earn more money and grow an audience. A recent study published in the Harvard Business Review, in fact, identified two types of entrepreneurial passion: “harmonious passion” (where entrepreneurs are motivated, satisfied and feel their role is important) and “obsessive passion” (in which the status, money or other rewards linked to the role are most important).

The findings showed that entrepreneurs who kept a flexible mindset and stayed in the “harmonious passion” zone were less at risk of burnout than their counterparts with a fixed mindset and more “obsessive passion.”

The good news is that burnout is avoidable; being a business owner doesn’t condemn you to blowing up your relationships, your life or your health. The key is building a sustainable business that puts you first from day one and allows you to scale so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Here are some of the tactics I use and try to stick to, myself. I’ve shared them with hundreds of entrepreneurs many of whom have since built healthy lives and businesses.

Step 1: Balance passion and creativity with focus.

In the words of Tucker Marion, associate professor of entrepreneurship at Northeastern University, “Creativity is essential in business because it’s a differentiator.” He says that people who exhibit a creative approach achieve more business success. But watch the tendency to let your creativity run wild: Chasing down too many ideas causes a lack of focus and is exhausting.

I used to struggle with a constant stream of new ideas; that all changed when I read The 12 Week Year by Brian Moran. His concept of doing more in three months than others do in a year intrigued me. I liked it so much that I created my own 90-day planning system, a tool I now use in my business and teach to everyone who joins my small business mastermind.

Here’s how it works: Every 90 days, you choose three goals as sole points of focus. I like to identify one financial goal, one creative goal and one life-related goal. Choose goals that align with your priorities, then break each one into actionable steps and schedule them into your calendar so they get done. 

More ideas will inevitably crop up during your 90 days, but park them somewhere else for now. Keep a notebook (real or virtual) handy to note anything that inspires you and you can revisit those ideas during your next 90-day planning session.

Be ruthless with your time: Once you’ve decided to do something, do it. And always, always schedule in personal time. My aim for 2019 is to work only four days a week, and ensure that I step away from the office every day for thinking time.

Related: How to Recognize and Beat Burnout

Knowing that you have a regular paycheck coming in relieves much of the pressure of running your own business: this is something that most of my clients are craving when they decide to work with me. They want to feel the ease and freedom that comes with financial security and want to break free of the trend toward “working more but earning less.” Here are four ways to generate consistent monthly income for your small business so that you have more room for your life:

Step 2: Create the right support system.

I now work with a fantastic team of seven, half of whom have been with me for years. As a recovering control freak, I know it’s not easy to trust others with your business baby but you must. You are a finite and highly valuable resource: Treat yourself accordingly. If you’re not willing to outsource, you’ll never scale your business in a way that makes you money without burning you out.

Start with this: Identify the tasks in your business and life that you must do yourself. For me, that includes one-to-one and group coaching sessions, recording my podcast, going live in my Facebook community, speaking at events, spending time with my son and being present in my marriage. It’s non-negotiable that I be the one doing each of those things.

But writing marketing copy or scheduling my social media posts? My content manager can do that. Customer service and chasing payments? My virtual assistant can take care of it. Managing my diary and overseeing the day-to-day running of my business? My online business manager has a handle on it. Cleaning the house or doing chores? I can support someone else’s family by hiring a housekeeper, thereby freeing up my time to dream, vision and live.

Think about all the tasks that need to get done but fall outside your own zone of genius. Could you pay someone else to take care of them? Start small and think about the advantages of outsourcing. Maintaining operational control while freeing up the energetic capital to focus on income-generating activities and relationships in your personal life will make your heart sing and your business soar.

Related: 7 Proven Ways to Beat Burnout

Step 3: Build your own safety net.

When I first started this business, I was a single mom to a newborn, living in my friend’s spare room. Creating a consistent monthly income was a huge priority for me; it’s what I needed, to secure the home and the life I wanted for me and my son.

Knowing that you have a regular paycheck coming in relieves much of the pressure of running your own business: This is something that most of my clients are craving when they decide to work with me. They want to feel the ease and freedom that comes with financial security and want to break free of the trend toward “working more but earning less.”

Looking for ways to generate consistent monthly income for your small business so that you have more room for your life? Here are four:

Secure retainer clients. A retainer client block-books a number of hours or a particular set of deliverables each month, for a flat fee. I went this route when I was first building my business, reaching out to brands as a consultant who could work with them on a retainer. Secure one or two clients who pay this way and you’ll have a great foundation to build on.

Create payment plans. Offer higher-ticket products and packages that are paid for in monthly installments. This is what I do with my 12-month mastermind. After every launch I know I have a reliable amount of money coming into my business for the next 12 months.

Launch a membership offer. Design a membership site that addresses a particular problem area in your niche and then charge a monthly fee. This isn’t my personal favorite model because it requires a lot of work to retain subscribers. However, many entrepreneurs experience immense success with memberships.

Related: How These 5 Multimillionaires and Billionaires Deal With Burnout

There are many other ways to build a scalable business that supports your thriving life, but these are my go-to. My blueprint for building a successful, scalable business won’t kill you: it will lead you beyond your wildest dreams. Remember: Stay focused, find support, prioritize consistent income generation and put yourself first, always.

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