The world of entrepreneurship is fast-paced, highly competitive, and full of passionate professionals. Running a business from the ground-up is no joke, requiring constant attention and hard work. There really is no switching off for an entrepreneur! However, it’s not humanly possible to work week-after-week, year-after-year with the same amount of passion and determination every day. 25% of entrepreneurs around the world reported being moderately burned out; while 3% reported being extremely burned out.
So what does it mean to be burned out? Why are entrepreneurs, out of all other professionals in the workforce, more susceptible to it? Let’s take a look!
Burn out technically refers to a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. In a state of burnout, problems seem unconquerable, everything looks gloomy and energy is completely drained out of the individual. Also, people tend to lose their will to help themselves. Burn out doesn’t happen instantly – it’s subtle and gradual, but it does get worse as time goes on.
Some effects burnout might have on any person:
- Caring about work or home life feels like a waste of energy
- Feeling exhausted all the time
- Feeling like there is no appreciation for your work and efforts
- Every day feels like a bad day
Burnout & Entrepreneurs
The reasons for burnout can be varied and can span across a wide range of lifestyle, work-related, and other causes. Let’s, however, focus on entrepreneurs here. Entrepreneurship is in no way as glamorous as it sounds; any real entrepreneur knows that running a business means, sleepless nights, working long hours and having very limited time for socialization or family. One has to be very passionate in order to run a business successfully, with many entrepreneurs scoring almost 3 on a 5-point scale for an ‘obssesive passion’. In addition to this, entrepreneurs have very limited room for error and rarely have any safety nets to fall back on, operating with high levels of uncertainty. Many a time you just want to leave everything, and do nothing.
These factors directly correspond to the reasons for burnout due to work-related issues. In the startup world, work is a lot, recognition is rare, and control over market demand is zero. It can prove challenging to deal with. The burnout due to work-related issues is also aggravated by the following factors:
- Doing monotonous or unchallenging tasks
- Overly demanding client/customer expectations
- Chaotic workplace environment
Entrepreneurs & Passion
It’s no secret that entrepreneurs are a passionate bunch of professionals. However, the degree and type of passion seem to be very important in entrepreneurship. Passion in entrepreneurship was described as 2 kinds:
- Harmonious Passion – Motivation because of satisfaction provided by the job.
- Obsessive Passion- Motivation because of status, money, and rewards.
According to the Harvard Business Review, close to 85% of entrepreneurs reported to a score as fairly high as 4.26 out of 5 on harmonious passion. However, a major chunk of this population also reported having scored 2.58 out of 5 on obsessive passion on an average.
Studies also revealed that entrepreneurs who scored high levels of obsessive passion were more at risk of burn-out than those working with harmonious passion. Entrepreneurship comes with taking the proverbial “punch in the mouth”, setbacks, slow and steady results and, a lot of trial and errors.
Entrepreneurs going solely with the goal of achieving money, fame, and status might get discouraged at how much patience needs to be deployed in order to be successful in business. So, maybe it’s not necessary that their job is tough, or the market is down, etc – it might just be that the motivation of the entrepreneur that is at stake here.
It might not be a resounding statement for every entrepreneur out there to find their motivation for doing this business, because burnout will feel like everything is useless. So instead, a rule of thumb one should follow is: What do I really care about? And work towards that; it is the simple mantra that has helped many entrepreneurs throughout history to overcome the burden of burn out. In addition to this, don’t forget to take a breath, relax, and rethink your entire strategy towards business, because the current patterns are clearly not working.
Marrisa Mayer says: “I have a theory that burnout is about resentment. And you beat it by knowing what it is you’re giving up that makes you resentful.” Resentment and regret from doing things you resent are a poison; don’t let them beat you!”