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Beat Burnout

Conquer the modern day menace with these top tips from ‘mumpreneur’ Debbie Gilbert Beat Burnout

Growing or even just maintaining your business and a work-life balance can be tricky. Many entrepreneurs swap a 40-hour week working for an employer for working 80-plus hours a week, usually because they haven’t factored in all the additional tasks required to run a business.

Once a business is up and running and you’re beginning to feel under pressure - even just a tiny amount - it’s time to act. You don’t want to wait until you feel completely overwhelmed and get burned out.

Classic signs

What are the signs? Classic ones are working more than eight hours a day, not having time for family or friends, no time for yourself, feeling like you’re never on top of your to-do list and other life tasks just not getting done.

If you’re recognising these signs, stop now. Not tomorrow, not next week, but now when you’ve finished reading this article.

Firstly, do a business health check. This involves a thorough look at everything you do and how you’re doing it. How long are tasks taking you? You might need to keep a diary for a few days to help you work this out. Note down every task you do and how long it takes. This will give you a detailed overview.

Often, business owners get into a mess because of bad time management. Once you’ve worked out where your time is being spent, you can work out how best to spend it.

Next, you need to work out a plan of how to work smarter, not harder. What could you automate or get support with? Here are some ideas:

Phone calls

If you’re answering every phone call as it comes in, this will be a major distraction and time suck.

You could leave a voicemail message asking people to email you or you could use a phone answering service. They will answer your phone as your company, take a message and email it to you. This weeds out cold calls and time wasters. You can then set aside time each day to call people back on your terms.

You can go one step further and ask the call answering service to delve into the call further and give them some training on answering basic questions on your business or direct people to your website for answers.

Admin tasks

If you’re drowning in administration tasks that are time consuming, enlist the help of a virtual assistant. Your time should be spent earning money, not doing filing, mail outs, bookkeeping or other tasks that do not generate an income.

Too much work

If your workload exceeds your capacity to deal with it, you could look to find other freelancers who could do this work and take a percentage of the work you pass them. LinkedIn is a great place to make connections with people in your industry.

Or you might feel you would like to work with associates who will work under your brand and they invoice you. As far as clients are concerned, they are part of your business.

Make sure in both cases you have agreements in place.

Automate your processes

Make your website work for you. Use it for people to book an appointment or phone call, make sure it can take payments and it answers all the frequently asked questions about your business. If you’re selling products, make sure your customers can purchase items easily. Make sure it’s integrated with an online accounting system that generates invoices.

Ensure your website is connected to your email marketing system, so data is added to this automatically. Anything you can automate will save you time. Those minutes add up to days and weeks - time you can gain to do other things.

Engage staff

This is a big step. Get advice from a human resources consultant and recruit the best possible people you can afford.

Using friends and family as cheap labour is rarely a good idea and usually ends in disaster. Follow the rules of recruitment carefully to avoid legal battles later.

Build a team of experts around you

Find a good accountant, marketing support, a photographer, IT expert, designers and preferably people who have experience and knowledge of your industry.

Once you have built your team and put in some additional processes, set clear boundaries for yourself.

Decide on your working hours and stick to them as much as possible. So if you want to ensure you pick your children up from school and take them to the park, or you want to go to the gym or meet friends on a regular basis, you need to run your working hours around this.

This might be four hours working, a break to do the things you love and then another three-four hours working. Or you might be able to do a pattern of a few days working and a few off. It will depend on your business and industry.

Like a child, your business will require constant nurturing. It needs consistency, reviewing, refreshing and tweaking as it grows. If you don’t do this, it will begin to fade and head down the road of possible failure. Or you will get sick if you’re overloaded. Many entrepreneurs find working with a business coach or mentor or being part of a mastermind group keeps them on track. It’s good to surround yourself with people you’re accountable to, especially if you’re leading your team in your business.

Strategy, focus and motivation are vital to be successful, but just as important is diarising your time out of the business for holidays and leisure time. This will protect your health, your sanity and your body - and your business will thank you for it.

Debbie Gilbert is author of The Successful Mumpreneur, a marketing expert and founder of the Best Business Women Awards.

She started her business in 1998 when the internet was in its infancy. 20 years on and it’s thriving. In 2011 she launched Mums UnLtd to support her mumpreneurs. Read more like this

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