Types of Entrepreneurial Burnout and How To Deal With Them

Running your own business can be an exhilarating experience. If your business is just a startup, you want to see it become successful. More often than not, it means working long hours. Most influential entrepreneurs believe that the hours you put into your business affects your success as an entrepreneur. Real estate mogul Grant Cardone and Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of Vayner Media worked long hours to reach where they are right now.

But working extended hours may not be healthy at all. To become successful, you need to be motivated, dedicated, committed, and determined. It can be difficult to focus on running your business if you are tired from working too much. When you are too preoccupied with running your business, it can be easy to neglect your work-life balance and get burned out.

Business owners are at risk of experiencing entrepreneurial burnout. Evidence suggests that there is a higher risk for entrepreneurs to burn out because of their passion for work and because of social isolation. They also have limited safety nets and operate in high uncertainty.  This article will delve on the following topics:

1.    Causes of Entrepreneurial Burnout

2.    Signs That You Are Experiencing Burnout

3.    Tips For Preventing Entrepreneurial Burnout

Causes of Entrepreneurial Burnout

Burnout is defined as a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion due to excessive and prolonged stress. It happens when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. Worse, it could cause you to lose motivation and your drive to succeed.

When you see no sign of progress, you can easily get depressed. Dr. Michael Freeman, a clinical professor and entrepreneur at University of California, conducted a study on the link between mental health issues and entrepreneurship. The study found that almost half of the respondents suffered from mental health conditions, with depression being the top condition (30%), ADHD (29%), and anxiety (27%).

Burnout is estimated to cost the US economy $300 billion a year, a huge chunk of this comes from entrepreneurs. Burnout can impact both the personal well-being and business success of the entrepreneur. Experts attribute the different types of entrepreneurial burnout to four major causes:

1. Wrong kind of passion

Passion for work is very important in entrepreneurial ventures. However, being passionate is not always advantageous. Researchers from VU University Amsterdam, University of Richmond, and North Carolina University found that entrepreneurs demonstrate two types of passion: harmonious and obsessive. Entrepreneurs who demonstrate harmonious passion got their motivation from a sense of satisfaction and contributed to their personal identity.

Meanwhile, entrepreneurs with obsessive passion are motivated by their status, money, and the rewards brought by their jobs. From here, you can already see who is most likely to experience entrepreneurial burnout. If you’re only driven by desire for compensation, there is a higher chance of burnout.

2. Boredom at Work  

A Udemy study found that 43 percent of workers report being bored and 51 percent of that say they are bored for more than half of their time at work. The symptoms of boredom include stress, fatigue, and irritation. Although the study focused on employees, it is also worth noting for entrepreneurs. If you are no longer interested with most of your work-related tasks, most likely you could be suffering from burnout.

3. Trouble delegating

Delegating can be a challenge for most entrepreneurs especially if they have been performing the tasks from the onset. However, as your business starts to get off the ground, you will need to delegate certain tasks. It will not only take the pressure off from you as the business owner but will also improve your business outcome in surprising ways.

A Gallup study revealed that CEOs who delegated tasks posted three-year growth rates that were 112 percent higher than those with limited delegation. Revenue levels reflected the importance of delegation generating 33 percent greater revenue than their peers. It is understandable if you do everything in the beginning but as your business expands, you need to offload some of the tasks from your shoulders.

4. You try to power through life’s rough patches

Everyone goes through rough times at some point. In an emotionally difficult situation, you can’t expect to deliver your best effort and look the same in a normal condition. By trying to look okay, burnout is likely to follow. Negative or stressful life conditions can decrease productivity by as much as 12 percent. Most entrepreneurs have the notion that by working hard and ignoring the stressful situation, they will feel better and relax. But this isn’t the case. As an entrepreneur, you should recognize that your personal life will impact your productivity and that working harder will not solve your problem.

Signs That You Are Experiencing Burnout

When you are already busy at work and in the groove, it is hard to stop for a break. Although it is understandable, working long hours isn’t healthy at all. It puts you at risk of suffering from entrepreneurial burnout. If this happens, you won’t be able to give 100% effort and your business will suffer.   It is important to know how to spot them and nip them in the bud right away. Here are some signs that you are experiencing burnout.

Mental Fog

Mental fog is one of the telltale signs of burnout. Have you found yourself reading the same page or email over and over again and still do not understand what it says? This happens because stress continues to build up cortisol in your system. If you don’t release it, the body stays in a mode where physical performance gets priority over intellectual ability.

While you may not be feeling stressed out during mental fog, your mental sharpness is significantly reduced as you would normally do. You are prone to committing more mistakes in your work and could no longer accomplish mundane tasks.


As stress becomes toxic, you are likely to become more irritated or annoyed easily even over minor things. It will begin in the workplace but will eventually spill over to home life or interaction with friends. According to Jaimie Crooks, founder and CEO of Definitely Definitely, you get full-blown angry at even little things you wouldn’t usually bother about.

If a piece of technology is not working, change of plans, or delays in project completion causes you to lash out at others. As mentioned, this irritability may even affect your personal or family life.

You Keep Getting Sick

The connection between stress and the immune system was the subject of a ten-year study that took place in the 1980s to the 1990s. The researchers found that the medical students experienced a decline in immunity during the three-day period when they took the exams. Prolonged stress caused by the tests resulted that their bodies stopped producing the cells needed to prevent infection.

If you are experiencing different types of entrepreneurial burnout, the same phenomenon can happen to you. It can directly impact your physical well being and you could find yourself suffering from cold or flu even during the summer. You could feel sore and experience body aches on a regular or consistent basis. You may even get diagnosed for chronic conditions due to stress.

Unexplained Weight Gain

During burnout and stressful situations, your body experiences cortisol buildup. Even if you are eating healthy and exercising, excess cortisol sends a signal that your body is at risk and should maintain your calories. WebMD reveals that excess cortisol could increase your body’s insulin levels causing a drop in blood sugar. As a result, your body will crave for foods that are high in sugar or fats. This will help add extra pounds around the middle.

You’re Tired All The Time

Another sign of entrepreneurial burnout is exhaustion. It is normal to feel tired and worn out at night after a busy day at work. However, if that feeling persists for days, it’s a sign that you are suffering from burnout. The number of hours of sleep or how many cups of coffee you drink wouldn’t matter because you will always feel tired.

You Lost Your Zest For Life

Burnout at work will not only affect work performance but also your interest and passion for the things you used to enjoy. It will cause you to lose excitement or inspiration. For entrepreneurs, passion is important to become a successful entrepreneur. When the motivation is gone, you won’t be able to face the challenges that come naturally with the job.

Increased forgetfulness

Being emotionally, mentally, and physically tired usually translates to you becoming more forgetful than usual. You start to miss meetings or forget important deadlines. When you are burned out, your mind is clouded affecting your ability to remember things that would usually be top of mind.

Tips On How To Avoid Burnout

Being an entrepreneur is no walk in the park. You need to prove something not only to yourself but also to competitors. Dealing with the various challenges associated with managing a business can impact your mental and/or physical health. From time to time, you will experience a stressful phase in your entrepreneurial life. It is important for you to stay engaged and enjoy your work. Here are some tips on how you can effectively avoid the different types of entrepreneurial burnout.

1. Tackle what worries you first

As an entrepreneur, it is important to understand the things that make you frustrated and why. By identifying them, you will know how to put a stop to them before they blow out of proportion and impact your passion and motivation. Find out your stressors and deal with them. If it is the cash flow, then do something to ensure that they flow smoothly.

2. Surround yourself with motivation

Drawing inspiration from something can help you achieve something for yourself. If necessary, add some multitalented people to your team so you can delegate tasks to them without having to worry. Hiring the right people will help you get the job done with less supervision.

3. Heed red flags

It is also important for entrepreneurs to detect early warning signs of motivational fatigue. It all starts with frustration which can grow and snowball into more serious symptoms such as perpetual indecisiveness, rising dissatisfaction, and depression.

4. Network with other entrepreneurs

Being with other entrepreneurs is a great way to prevent entrepreneurial burnout. Join local/virtual groups or networks so you can share your problems with others who may be experiencing the same situation as you. There is a chance that someone in the group can provide you with some solutions to the problem or vice versa.

5. Switch off

Power down with your phones, tablets, laptops, or any other device you are using. Too much social media puts you at risk of connectivity overload. It is important for you to disconnect from them from time to time.

6. Spend time for yourself

Self-introspection can go a long way in preventing burnout. Set aside some time to sit in silence and think about what would make things better. Introspecting can help you get the answers that no other mind tools can. Find time to do things that you enjoy such as playing games, meditating, reading books, taking a long walk, and others. It can help soothe your spirit so that when you return, you can give 100 percent to your business.

7. Catch some sleep

Make sure that you get enough sleep. Lack of REM sleep can cause several physical and mental illnesses. After a hectic day full of meetings and paperwork, your body needs time to repair, restore, and relax. Not getting enough sleep can cause serious medical conditions such as high blood pressure and stroke. Your mind may be willing to work but your body may not.

8. Talk things through  

Instead of keeping stress or frustrations to yourself, why not look for an outlet to vent it all out in a healthy manner? You can talk to someone such as a friend, companion, or a therapist so you can release all those emotions. There is a close connection between your mind and health. If one is not functioning properly, the other could go awry.

9. Take a break

As a startup business, it can be hard for you to take a break. However, taking a temporary respite from your entrepreneurial role can help in the maintenance of work-life balance. Spend some time with your family or have a day doing nothing at all. Stay at home and watch Netflix or go somewhere with your family. Do this once in a while to truly avoid different types of entrepreneurial burnout.


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