5 Telltale Signs of Entrepreneurial Burnout (and What To Do About It)

By: Karl R. LaPan, President & CEO, Northeast Indiana Innovation Center

Entrepreneurs are a special breed of people. They tend to be intense and do everything to the fullest extent possible. Work hard and play hard, right? While this motto can contribute to their success, oftentimes it can work against them. Yes, I am referring to burnout.

Entrepreneurial burnout is more rampant than you might think. At best, people feel unmotivated on the job, and at worst, they get to the point where they dread their work and can’t stand the thought of another day. This doesn’t make for a great entrepreneurial experience.

The key is to watch for telltale signs of burnout and tackle them head on. Consider these 5 important warning signs:

  1. That spark is gone.
  2. No one is excited about work every day. Running a business can be thankless and unglamorous. There are always going to be trials and setbacks. If, however, you find yourself consistently unenthusiastic about going to work – then maybe you need to re-assess your passion and revisit the choices you have made. Be sure to seek others out and to be intentional in making changes in your life to achieve better work-life professional and personal satisfaction. Matthew Kelly says work-life balance is a myth. he once said, “People want to live deeply satisfying lives both personally and professionally.

  3. You’re easily irritated.
  4. You’re never going to get along with everybody all the time. But if you find yourself lashing out at co-workers, customers or loved ones, you could be taking out your frustrations on them—instead of addressing the root of the problem. Be sure to be self-aware (brutally honest with yourself), intentional and reflective.

  5. You’re physically or mentally depleted.
  6. Many entrepreneurs will regularly push themselves to the brink of exhaustion for the sake of success or self-preservation. But there is such a thing as too much. Mental anguish can manifest itself in the form of headaches, back pain and other ailments.

    A little self-care can go a long way. Take time to eat well, exercise more and get adequate sleep. Do yoga, get a massage or listen to motivational speakers. Focus on the important things. Remember, it is not about time management but managing your energy. Be sure to distinguish results from activity. You don’t want to be a hamster on a treadmill.

  7. You’re having doubts.
  8. Maybe you feel like you’ve put in a great deal of effort for little return. Or you might even question whether you should still be in business in the first place. This is the time to take a step back and do some honest, objective evaluation. Seek out your coach or mentor for a third-party perspective so you don’t let your bias cloud your judgment. Be sure to celebrate your small wins along the way!

  9. You feel detached or ineffectual.
  10. You may be going “through the motions,” but you feel alienated or detached. When these thoughts come to mind, I find it’s best to think back to the motivations that led you to start the business in the first place, and try to keep them front and center in your daily routine. Be sure to know your “why”. Simon Sinek reminds us that we need to know the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires us to do what we do. What is your “why”?

Realize that you are only human and burnout is an unfortunate tendency for entrepreneurial types. Don’t look at it as a sign of failure but as a sign of passion. Just know when you need to reel yourself back in and take the steps to revive, renew and reinvigorate your spirit.


Enter search term...

close ×

REIMAGINE: Survive and Thrive During COVID-19

Browse our new digital guide for strategies and resources

Read Now