Small Business: Avoiding burnout

Summertime is a perfect time to recharge entrepreneurial Summertime is a perfect time to recharge entrepreneurial batteries, but for many small business owners getting away for an extended period can be difficult. The experts say, plan and do it. Photo Credit: iStock

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Jamie Herzlich Newsday columnist Jamie Herzlich

Herzlich writes the Small Business column in Newsday. ...

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For many small-business owners, finding a work-life balance is difficult.

If they're not physically at their business, they're bringing work home with them -- and in many cases find it truly hard to detach.

This can lead to burnout, say experts.

"You don't really realize how burned out you get," says Alice Bredin, a Cambridge, Mass., small-business adviser for American Express OPEN, the small-business arm of American Express. "Only through taking a break do you recharge your batteries."

Summertime is a perfect time to do this, but for many entrepreneurs getting away for an extended period can be difficult.

A recent American Express OPEN survey found about 43 percent of small-business owners and managers surveyed were not planning on taking a full-week's vacation this summer.

Sometimes, lengthier vacations like a full week can be harder to pull off, but that doesn't mean you can't still get away, says Bredin.

Finding the time. If you feel you can't escape for seven days, perhaps you can take a three-day weekend or even just a day away "to get a break from business as usual," she says.

Anything that gets you physically away from the office for a period of time helps, says Rob Basso, president of Advantage Payroll Services in Freeport, who is planning to take two nonconsecutive weeks off this summer.

"Two weeks consecutively is a little too stressful for me," he says. While he's away, he carves out specified times to check email, generally three times during a week, for about 20 minutes to a half-hour each clip. He has also delegated someone back at his office to handle anything pressing.

"When you're not there, 'knight' somebody that could act in your stead with the same professional manner that you want to project," Basso says.

Share the burden, recommends Marc Miller, president of Chief Motivation Officer, an executive coach and business consultant in Plainview.

Either delegate responsibilities or outsource tasks if you're a solopreneur, he notes. No one can spend 24/7 running their business. You need to find some downtime.

For instance, during the workweek Basso carves out regular times to exercise, which he says helps alleviate burnout.

"Without exercise, I wouldn't have survived the last 16 years of running this business," says Basso, who is also co-creator of BusyFit, a 25-minute workout on DVD.

Detaching. Basso also carves out family time after work.

"I made a deal with my kids and wife that from dinner time until the children go to bed, I will not have the phone available to me," says Basso.

Don't feel guilty about making time to do this, says Miller.

"Small-business owners usually have trouble setting limits and boundaries on their own time and energy," he notes.

You don't have to physically always be in your office space. Mobile technology has made it easy to check in, and many small-business owners are utilizing it during their off time.

"Nearly half of small-business owners plan to work remotely for at least two weeks this summer," according to Janine Pelosi, senior marketing manager for San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco WebEx Online, which recently conducted a survey of 500 U.S. small-business owners. "It's hard for small-business owners to truly get away."

Technology like online meeting tools can help business owners stay connected as long as they set limits. If you spend your entire time-off working, then you're not really detaching, which will have repercussions in the long run.

"If you don't take time off to replenish yourself, your emotional and physical well-being will suffer and so will your business," says Miller.

FAST FACT

67 percent. Portion of small-business owners who are planning a summer vacation this year. Of those vacationing, 89 percent plan to leave town instead of having a "staycation."


Source: Staples survey

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