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What to Do When Business Owner Passion Turns to Burnout

What to Do When Business Owner Passion Turns to Burnout featured image of form of a man on fire

In nearly every college commencement speech I’ve ever heard, “Follow your Passion” has been the sage advice from the podium. It’s also the most misunderstood words of wisdom for the business owner. Passion isn’t necessarily about the work itself, it’s better described as physical and emotional energy. It’s powerful, motivating…and finite. Sometimes, business owner passion turns to burnout.

In my career working as a business broker, I’ve seen hundreds of entrepreneurs follow the same pattern. It starts with excitement and if channeled correctly, translates to actions that move a business forward.

Here is how it unfolds, Thoughts of the new business are typically all-consuming. Getting to sleep may be difficult due to the swirling thoughts of how to design the new venture. Weekends and hands on the clock have no meaning because this is going to be great!

Being super engaged, the business owner is the first to arrive on location and the last to leave; they are the head salesperson, CFO, technician, and maybe even janitor. It doesn’t “feel” like work because they love what they do and can’t imagine any other life. They don’t mind the effort because they know the ROI will be worth it. Family is supportive because they have bought into the vision and know how important this is to you.

If all goes well, the business owner understands their own highest and best use so they hire for the other tasks. Excitement is high and optimism permeates throughout the organization.

The Darkside. When passion turns to burnout

Building a success can be a long and complicated road. Sometimes the “passion” runs out before the final chapter is written.  Here are some of the warning signs that tell you your energy is running low and something needs to happen FAST! Give yourself this quiz:

Yes or No The job has gotten monotonous.

Yes or No You no longer feel challenged.

Yes or No You feel demotivated because your business does not have as much potential as

you thought.

Yes or No You lack the patience you used to have when dealing with employees, hiring,

firing, and the never-ending cycle.             

Yes or  No You have become cynical when good things happen in your business.

Yes or  No You feel trapped.

Yes or  No Your business is a source of strained relationships at home.

Yes or  No Your business causes anxiety and stress.

Yes or  No Your business drains energy from you.

Yes or  No You dread going to work.

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you could be experiencing burnout. It’s best to recognize this early so countermeasures can be taken. If left unchecked, you will sink further into despair and it will be impossible to hide. Your business will be harmed and may even die. A failed business can lead to other life-altering circumstances like personal bankruptcy, depression and divorce.

What’s next?

At the end of your soul searching, you likely will come to one of two conclusions.

  1. Someway, somehow get jazzed about your business again.
  2. Find a way to cash out and move on.

Options are too numerous to list here, but I encourage people to reach out to a trusted colleague and talk it out. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about as we all have been burnt out at times.  

If this article hits a little too close to home, I would encourage you to reach out to me. Even if selling your business is not the best option, I can refer you to my personal network of advisors and strategists that can open your eyes about what is possible in your professional life.