Burnout is real. Whether your business is growing at a steady clip, going through a seasonal slump, or just keepin' on keepin' on, there is still opportunity for you to feel overwhelmed, a little out of control, or like you are one request away from a total meltdown.
This conversation came up in an industry group I am in, but I know it is prevalent in any business - especially service businesses. While you can't stop the internal feelings surrounding burnout, you can put systems in place to keep it at bay. Here, I share three realistic, easily implementable ways to reduce burnout in your business. First up is the B- word. Boundaries.
Boundaries are a great preventative measure, great for the middle of burnout, and also help you pull out of the cycle of burnout altogether. Boundaries should be set from the get go. You can put boundaries on your time - meaning you only work certain hours, no ifs, ands or buts. You can put boundaries on communication, meaning you control what channels you allow clients and team members to connect with you on. You can also put boundaries on what you do and don't do in your business.
Meaning, just because you CAN do something does not mean you should. If it's not a good use of your time, doesn't add to your bottom line, doesn't really improve client experience, or just isn't something you like to do - then don't do it. I liken it to this - it's nice to put chocolates on pillows in a hotel. But if the beds are uncomfortable because the sheets aren't nice or the pillows aren't fluffy enough, then save the $.25 on the chocolates you replace nightly (which adds up to $91.25/year per pillow you put the chocolate on) and put them into nicer pillowcases for that one pillow. Guests forget about the chocolates, but not how they sleep. Next - Scope Properly
Scoping a project, new client, whatever means that you are sitting down and really understanding what goes into delivering what you are charging people for. You understand the human, overhead, opportunity cost, and energy required to perform the delivery of an outcome - and charging accordingly. This also means that you are communicating with your clients exactly what they are getting for what they are paying. This might take a little more work on the front end, or make it less of a flat fee and more of an "it depends" pricing, or it might make your contracts a teensy bit scarier. But oh, do they save you from burnout later.
Being really intentional about how you are building your pricing and how you are conveying that value means that you are spending less time providing extras for "free," having really hard conversations about why you are sending an additional invoice, and just also makes it easier to close up a client once you have completed delivery.
While you might end up getting burned out because you scoped too many projects at once, for example, having stricter scope and timelines means that you are better able to control when clients stop and start, and also have contingencies for when everything converges at once. And finally, create client experience processes in your business.
This might take the most amount of time, but you can make incremental changes even weekly, by just making slight adjustments to how you manage your leads and clients. The first step is to manage how you track and interact with your leads. If you don't have a central repository for your leads, create one now. I love using Airtable to track and interact with my leads
- I have a lead capture on my website that is an airtable form that immediately drops new leads into my base. Based on how they answer a few questions in the form, Airtable sends personalized information on how I work, what my offerings are like, and how to schedule a call to discuss their project with me.
The base also connects to Calendly and tracks if a lead books a discovery call or a Systems Consult with me automatically. If I send out a proposal and the lead doesn't book, it follows up with them automatically, using Airtable automations. It's nice because the leads don't get lost in emails, I can enter them automatically, and I know my closure rate and how long it takes for leads to convert to clients.
Once clients book, I also have automation in place to set up their folders in my google drive, and can send them links to documents I created when I scoped their project. They are also set up in my time tracking program, and their project is set up and assigned in Asana automatically. This means that I don't have to spend a lot of time setting new clients up in my systems or communicating with my team when we bring on a new client. This gives me more time back in my day, and removes friction to getting started on projects.
Because I also have automated onboarding, I can answer a lot of questions for clients, anticipate their needs, and explain my boundaries without having tons of emails or calls to discuss "housekeeping." This means our communication is of higher quality and that I spend less time on calls and more time producing results. This means I get results faster for clients, they are happier, and I am reducing the opportunity to burnout.
While this isn't an exhaustive list, this should give you some ideas of what you can do in your business right now to reduce your potential for burnout. Each business is different, your expectations for how you run your business may be different, but putting boundaries in place, having tighter scope that is effectively communicated, and creating streamlined client experience processes means that you can deliver a superior experience for your clients while protecting yourself from burnout.
If you need help making any of that happen, let's chat
. Building systems in your business is not only a great safeguard for reducing burnout, but it's also helpful to help you scale, do more in less time, or have space to do the things you like
to do in your business.