Episode Podcast Cover (1).png

How to Identify, Avoid, and Overcome Entrepreneurial Burnout

Transcript 

Kathy (host):  

Hi there, and welcome back to Help! My Business is Growing, a podcast where we explore how to grow and build a business that is healthy and sustainable. I'm your host, Kathy Svetina.

 

Kathy (host):  

Running a business can get really stressful, and it might start small - so small that it will creep up on you. Because it's exhilarating to set goals to overcome hurdles and problems and achieve the results that you set up can be really, really exciting. But as the business grows, the workload can get heavier, the obstacles become more challenging, and you're adding new responsibilities to your already full plate. If you're not careful, you can get stretched thin. And this is where entrepreneur burnout sets in. 

 

Kathy (host):  

So the question here is, how do you recognize that burnout is on your horizon? How do you prevent it? And is there a way to stop it in this track? Also, if you're currently experiencing burnout, how do you manage it and how do you even get away from it? 

 

Kathy (host):  

And just a quick reminder, all of the episodes on this podcast, including this one, come with timestamps for topics that we discussed, and each one has its own blog post as well. You can find the links in the detailed topics in the episode's show notes. 

 

Kathy (host):  

Let's talk about our guests. Our guest today is Priscilla Stephan. She is an Intuitive Business Strategist and creator of the Soulfluent® Leadership Archetypes. She helps soul-driven women entrepreneurs create sustainable, world-changing businesses that support the greater good. Her holistic and pragmatic approach to business and leadership allows her clients to live their dream lifestyle while confidently sharing their soul’s work to make a big impact and increase their profit and growth. She is the author of the international bestselling book "Soulfluent® Leadership Business Guide: Amplify your Message, Visibility, and Profits by Leveraging your Archetype", which supports leaders to stay grounded in their vision and primed to lead themselves and their organizations boldly into the future with confidence, courage, and sustainable growth. Join us.

 

Kathy (host):  

Welcome to the show, Priscilla.

 

Priscilla (guest):  

Thank you for having me.

 

Kathy (host):  

Thanks so much for being here. I work with growing businesses where owners have a lot going on, and the only thing that seems to be a constant for them is that there's constant change. As it sounds fun at the beginning, but to work like this all the time, I see a lot of them being stretched really thin to the point of burnout. I did want to ask you what exactly is this burnout? What are some of the signs that you see when you work with people that are experienced this entrepreneurial burnout? How does that look like for them?

 

Priscilla (guest):  

A deep sense of overwhelming anxiety. It looks also like they're not sleeping properly. They are not taking care of themselves. Their work hours are a stretch, sometimes doubled. Their language starts to change where they're using words like chaos and depressed and they really get lost in the minutiae of the day-to-day. They become highly reactionary, sometimes to the point that the bigger vision is lost, and then not uncommon, right? They can feel pessimistic, lose motivation, autopilot, just got to get through one more fire or five, and a huge sense of extra responsibility on their shoulders that feels magnified. I think it magnified emotions, right? 

 

Priscilla (guest):  

So it's like get tired is like one thing, but then all of a sudden, they feel like massively tired. If they're just overwhelmed. It just feels like "Oh, no, it's not just overwhelmed. Like, the whole, like, the sky is gonna fall down." Things are magnified on the spectrum of pessimism, and negativity. The wheel just is impossible, like they're on the hamster wheel for sure. They can't get out of it. 

 

Priscilla (guest):  

And then eventually, in addition to psychological and emotional things, and it might affect self-confidence, sense of self-worth. 

 

Priscilla (guest):  

And then I would say ultimately, physical ailments- inability to sleep digestive problems, blood clot issues. I've seen really significant physical ailments that start to show up because they have far exceeded the body's capacity to manage the level of stress. And so the body starts to scream, "I need help, you know, this is more than I can tolerate, and often they're way past their level of what they can tolerate." And unfortunately, sometimes something significant where their body just shuts down has to happen in order for there to be a reevaluation, which can be incredibly scary because what everything feels like it's on you, when you are the bottleneck when your sense of identity and self-worth and sense of contribution to the world is deeply wrapped around your vision in what you do every day, it can be very startling and scary to not be in the role where you self identify, right. 

 

Priscilla (guest):  

So those are some of the examples of what I see, and it's very normal, especially given that the last couple of years, and in general, and to be on the positive side of things. Burnout is actually a beautiful, fertile opportunity for reevaluation, realignment, and a repositioning of your role and the role that you have in the business. And also how you want to show up in the business moving forward so that there is lasting sustainability founded on a really anchored in the foundation of self-care, self-trust, and personal self-leadership.

 

Kathy (host):  

And that's interesting, taking burnout as almost this high alert, red light flashing type of thing where it's like, something's going off, you're off the course, you have to readjust. And I want to talk more a little bit about how does that really look like. Let's say that someone is experiencing, hopefully not all that you've just described. Because it sounds absolutely awful. But most of these things, or at least some of them, what is that telling them in sense of how they're working? And how they should be reevaluating their work? How would that look like?

 

Priscilla (guest):  

Yes, great question. I would say that burnout is ultimately an alignment issue, meaning that you are out of alignment with how you naturally work best. It also means that how you are running your business, how you see your role in your business, and how you see yourself in the world is invited to an upgrade. It really is you have to upgrade how you see yourself. And of course, when you're in the middle of all that, not everyone has the opportunity to step away from the business, which is really what they need is to rest, right? 

 

Priscilla (guest):  

And so the key is really to start to look at. Oftentimes, burnout comes from outdated beliefs, narratives, and stories, and even sometimes trauma responses to survival.  I find that really, we start off the business, sometimes it's us, or it's a small team. And then we just keep operating in that kind of baby/toddler phase of the business, even though the business has grown. And then we are called to upgrade our role, our activities, and how much support we get to call into the business so that we can then be thriving, not just operating sometimes from default patterns or survival that have gotten us to just kind of grin and bear it to push through, to have lacks boundaries, to ignore health conditions, to start to waver on our key values, whether that's time for family, time for well, self-care, time for hobbies, or time for other things that might be beyond the business. 

 

Priscilla (guest):  

And so what I have found is that burnout, is this opportunity to really rethink and reevaluate, "Who am I? What role do I want to play in this business? And who am I? And who do I want to be as a leader, as I show up in the business moving forward?" Because it really is an upgrade in your sense of personal leadership and how you see yourself because as you kind of get into this upgrade of right relationship with yourself, how you see yourself, your values, what matters what you need to sustainably grow, not just push through one more thing, because it can be reactionary. What does it take to be proactive, to create a foundation where you are not the sole person? 

 

Priscilla (guest):  

Oftentimes, what I see is that the survival mode that's gotten people to 100,000, 200,000, half a million, let's say, has been, "It's all on me. I don't trust other people to do a good job like me. I have control issues. I can't let go because nobody will do or understand things as well as I do it when they don't believe that people exist or can support them or they don't even know how to receive the level of support that is valued for them."

 

Priscilla (guest):  

And so really, it takes that place of self-reflection, first of what have I been doing that's been perpetuating the cycle that is causing to greater burnout, both in terms of my patterns - my core routines and how I show up in the business and how much I allow myself to be supported. 

 

Priscilla (guest):  

And then what small tweaks can I make right away to create both mentals, physical and psychological space for me to then even contemplate making some greater shifts in breathing? I'm not drowning most of the time in a cycle that is unsustainable, and really harmful to me and the growth of the business. I know that was a mouthful of what I said. I hope that some of it made some sense because I threw a lot out there.

 

Kathy (host):  

No, it did. And you talked about at the end, you talked about the small tweaks that you can make to right away to get you to that better course. What have you seen with the clients that you work with? The small tweaks that they've made that really made that impact from the beginning?

 

Priscilla (guest):  

Yeah. I think, what is the exciting part, but when you're so overwhelmed, it feels like there's so much on your plate. But sometimes those tactical strategic tweaks really can create some room. And to clarify, the people that I work with are established service-based women entrepreneurs, who probably are within low to mid six figures on average, that there can be some seven-figure business owners, and they own businesses that support the greater good, right? 

 

Priscilla (guest):

Like I have a woman who has a farm. They call it a conscious farm, like she wants to educate kids about the land and all those things, but attorneys and consultants and stuff like that. It's a broad gamut - accountants, bookkeepers, and so they love the work that they do to the point that they throw themselves under the bus. 

 

Kathy (host):

Yep. 

 

Priscilla (guest):

But the tweaks that I often find is there are a couple of different avenues. One is we get them to come back to and be re-inspired by the vision. Why are you doing this to begin with? What are we looking to change? What paradigms are we changing in the world and get reconnected to that? 

 

Priscilla (guest):

The second piece is that they are always the bottleneck, right? They have more business oftentimes than they can handle and certainly way too much on their plate. A.) Because that's just been how they've done it; B.)  oftentimes, there's a trust issue, where there's a sense of self-worth and self-value issue that's going on where they just pile it on themselves. 

 

Priscilla (guest):

And so the first week is we actually start to look at small hiring positions. And often it can be anywhere from one to three new hires that can be part-time or full-time, which will automatically take a chunk of their time off so that they have more room. Sometimes it's just identify like with the lady that has the farm. Like she is always the stopgap if her staff gets sick if her staff is out of work. She is the one filling in? No, there has to be a built-in sequence of people so that she isn't the person that is always filling in for something going wrong. The fence breaks, the person got COVID or somebody broke their toe like we cannot have her be part of like she's the stopgap No. So usually we look at staffing. 

 

Priscilla (guest):

And we also go to vision. We look at where is your person's true zone of genius, right? Where is their CEO role? How are they the steward of the vision? What do they do best? And how can we get them doing more of that often? 

 

Priscilla (guest):

And then we look at the things that are not within their zone of genius and also the things that are also taking a lot of their time consistently - whether it's filling in for staff, whether it is reviewing P&L stuff for a bookkeeper, whether that means taking on clients for an attorney that pay well, but she really hates or very difficult clients, right? 

 

Priscilla (guest):

And so and then looking "Okay, what activities or types of clients are taking the draining the most out of you right now and putting you into reactive mode?" And then we look at where can that be delegated. Where can we stop offering products and services that are draining or outdated or not profitable? 

 

Priscilla (guest):

And then we look at who can we hire and what really cool comprehensive job descriptions can we put out there right away to alleviate the pain. Sometimes if there's already staff, we can see what more we can put on the current staff so that they can take on more responsibility. But then once we put those jobs, I help them refine the job descriptions and what that really entails. And we put those job descriptions. 

 

Priscilla (guest):

And once those new hires come on board, it is amazing how quickly things begin to shift. Of course, there's a bit of onboarding and there's a bit of tweaking, but the massive shift in terms of unloading of responsibility from the CEO or my client, in the room that it creates, they're like, "Oh my gosh!", but it's also an identity shift that has to happen within them. Because in hiring this person, they bump up against old patterns and beliefs about themselves about hiring people, about "Do I have the money for this?" They always find the money. The money is always there. 

 

Priscilla (guest):

And that's where we look at if they don't feel like you have the money. "Let's look at your programs and your offers here. Where can we add a new offer? Where can we launch something that's been on the back burner for you to launch or you didn't have the time that will clearly and easily pay for itself within your hire?" 

 

Priscilla (guest):

So it's really the vision, a zone of genius? What new hires can we bring in part-time, or full-time to alleviate the activities that are ongoing, recurring, and draining for you, so then you have time to breathe, and start to look at a long-term vision? And then we also look at business model and pricing and streamlining, where the business is offering? And at what times, in which ways? 

 

Priscilla (guest):

So we just reassess everything. And I always ask the client, how do you want to feel in the business day to day, how many hours are you going to be working with? Start with the end and the ideal in mind, and we start to make those tweaks that will really take the pressure off as soon as possible in their mental, physical, and psychological ability, so that they can see more clearly, when you're burned out and you're tired, you cannot see clearly. Your vision is compromised. It's muddy. Your glasses are cloudy, and that's not a good place to make decisions from.

 

Kathy (host):  

And that's a good point is when you are burned out, you are so exhausted, you cannot really see clearly and I see that with with the clients that I'm working out as well, too, is because it's really hard to make those long-term strategic decisions for the business, especially when it comes to hiring. You are bringing on another human, another person that you're going to be responsible for providing a livelihood for. My question here is, would you think that if someone is in the midst of this burnout, they're knowing that they really cannot see things clearly? Would it be more beneficial for them, instead of trying to fix it and solve it right away? To just try to step away from it and maybe take a vacation if they can, what would you think would be the best possible way to fix this? But not it does in such a way that it serves them the best in long term in the future versus just trying to be reactive like let's hire three more people because that's why I needed right now.

 

Priscilla (guest):  

Right? And there are many different reactive things that they can do. Like I've seen invest money on the wrong things, like let's do a rebrand our website. Let's change our branding. Let's do this. And it's like, "Whoa, you don't need all of that. You're just piling more stuff on."

 

Priscilla (guest):

I mean, a vacation would certainly be helpful. But can they go on vacation and actually disconnect from work? First of all, right? Because they're always thinking and worrying, right?  

 

Priscilla (guest):

I just had a client. She's like, "This is the first time that I've had people train staff and Oh, my God, like, I'm stepping away for today. But my entire mind is like, is it okay?" You know, it's like, so great vacation or a massage. But like, sustainable change does not lead to recurring burnout requires a change in thinking and self-identity, and self-leadership, right? The inner ecosystem of the conversation and the beliefs and the trust that you have in yourself and in your staff and in the business structure overall. A vacation is great. 

 

Priscilla (guest):

But what I would recommend, and I know that I am biased, because this is what I do is that the people that have seen the change with me hired support- whether it be a coach, consultant mentor, like me, or whether it be a consultant that can look somebody with fresh eyes. Or maybe there's someone that you trust in the business that knows the business well enough, that can give you a fresh perspective. 

 

Priscilla (guest):

Because I think that part of the issue is that the clients that I've seen that work with me are incredibly resourceful and smart. They can figure it out. But they also have innate biases into that are keeping them the bottleneck, right? They think that they can just keep doing it, or they don't trust someone or they don't think they have the money. And so they start to sometimes fall into these loops and patterns of thinking that actually aren't necessarily the best course of action, and they can't always see it, or if they see it, they just revert back to the comfortable actions that keep them in the loop. 

 

Priscilla (guest):

And so I think that having a fresh perspective, whether that be with staff that you trust, or with hiring someone, even if it's part-time or temporary, could be really helpful, and also noticing where you start to keep adding new projects. And I noticed that when people add new products they instantly think that they're the ones that have to execute and do the research and do the implementation. It's just starting to think about how much of what I'm adding to my plate or doing can I outsource, delegate, or not do all by myself, and I think that's a big part of it as they go through the process. 

 

Priscilla (guest):

And I know at first hiring somebody, or can feel like just small work on a schedule that already feels completely tapped out. But that's where that piercing of the veil of from someone to say, "Look, if you do it this way, and we are really targeted and strategic. This will create this number of hours for you, in the next month to 90 days or six months. And so it really is looking at what is our ROI on the activities that you are actually investing in right now with your energy," right, because if you're just putting out fires, you're gonna keep just putting out fires until you are aware that there's a better option that's not going to take all your time, money and energy. 

 

Priscilla (guest):

And there are other possibilities that maybe you just can't see right now. Because either you're stuck in old ways, you're afraid to let go, or you don't think you can afford it. And you just can't see clearly, and it's not that these people that are listening today, aren't highly capable, but somebody has been highly capable as part of the problem because you just keep piling on. And that thinking of I just can keep piling on has to be changed, because that is perpetuating the cycle of doing way too much. And also not being efficient, right? 

 

Priscilla (guest):

Because this is about optimization. This is about efficiency. This is about sustainability. This is about really being a true steward of the vision of why you got into business in the first place. And the kind of leader that you want to be and benefit also of hiring someone that's outside of you is that they can reflect back to you and you can you know your old patterns and your triggers and call you out on them in the best possible way. So that then you can become aware of what you keep doing. So you make different choices that are upgraded and aligned with who you're being called to be as a leader now of your business and of your vision. And that will support you to be a sustainable leader and a sustainable CEO and have an infrastructure and a business model to your business that really supports where you want to go. 

 

Priscilla (guest):

And it doesn't mean that there won't be some chaos and issues and maybe, you know, some more challenging seasons, you know, depending on the business you have. But it really becomes a choice of what kind of a leader do I want to be what kind of a business job I want to run. And am I willing to have it be better than what it is now, even if I can't fully see it? Or do I think it's going to be too much work? And it isn't. Usually, it isn't.

 

Kathy (host):  

And I see this, we were talking about the businesses though they're smaller. But I see this with the businesses that are growing, the businesses that I've worked with are between the million and 10 already in revenue. There already are having some oomf in their cash and the revenue, and they're growing faster. But this is still an issue even for them. Because there's always this, "Can I afford more hiring? Who do I trust to do this type of work? Can I have people do it, and people still have a hard time delegating?" Because I think fundamentally, it becomes a problem of leadership. They're not they have not been trained and leadership styles. Like how do you effectively manage people. 

 

Kathy (host): 

And if you listening to this, if you go back into all the episodes that are recorded up so far, you see a lot of the stuff that we focus on this podcast, it's about leadership, it's about people, because that is so, so, so important in the business. And something that I see people struggle with. 

 

Kathy (host):

I actually had a conversation with another coach just this week, and she was talking about how people think about businesses and lemonade stands when you first started. It's just you, you just have some lemons and you have some water and a little pretty lemonade stand. But if you really want to grow it into a bigger business, you're going to have to now instead of having a basket of lemons, you're going to have to figure out how do I get a truckload of them. You're gonna have to work with vendors. You're gonna have to work with other people. Now, you're going to have to have people unload that truck. You're gonna have to go and have people, mend the stands a lot more than you're just doing it for a couple of hours. 

 

Kathy (host):

So meaning your operation is going to increase the people that you have in the business are going to increase you're going to need a lot more structure, a lot more processes, a lot more systems, and a lot more support. And if you're trying to do this all on your own, you're just going to completely burn out.

 

Priscilla (guest):  

Yes, for the people that I work with that are usually up to a million usually they're not at the level or the infrastructure. As long as they don't want as big of a business and kind of a little monster, in my case, and we're mostly service-based professionals. They need to feel safe in whatever kind of business infrastructure they are creating, that they can handle it that it's not going to off, crumble on their head for them to do. They need to feel safe, that they're not as they grow that they're not going to compromise the reputation and the quality of service that they have already. They need to work through the level of added responsibility that they feel that is on their shoulders, and if they want to carry that burden, or how to reframe responsibility so that they can, it's not a burden on them. And so those, this is a lot of the inner workings of leadership and identity, to really ask those tough questions. 

 

Priscilla (guest):

I just wrote an Instagram post yesterday about this. In order to build a sustainable business, this is a bit of a simplification, but I think it comes to a bit of these things. It takes the courage to keep asking the difficult questions of yourself, like, "Is this really how I want to be running my business? Do I really want a big business? Do I make holding myself back," because I'm keeping myself small for my partner or someone else, that I really want to be in a partnership. 

 

Priscilla (guest):

I had an attorney who was just like, "I don't want to be with my business. I want to go off on my own," like, these are important things too. You have to tell the truth. Ultimately, the second is discernment, where are you really best suited in your leadership and in your capacities to lead? And where is your focus and your energy gonna go? Who do you really need? Do you need a lot of people really? Or is it can we have a small and mighty team, which tends to remind people to have, usually anywhere from one to five people, unless it's like a farm that has 100 acres, then you need more. 

 

Priscilla (guest):

And then so courage, discernment, and then self-love- loving yourself enough to know that you will not throw your wellbeing, your sanity, under the bus for your business because I have burned out twice. And it's really, I would equate it to probably like long COVID that people have, like, you can't just muscle or push your way through to getting well. If you're really genuinely burned out, you need some time to recuperate. 

 

Priscilla (guest):

And so I think it's just really important for people to remember to just really be honest with how willing am I to keep throwing myself in the bus, no matter how great the good, you know, despite I know that people have payroll, and sometimes tons of employees that they're responsible for, vendors, and can there be win-wins here? Can we make sure that you as the golden goose, as the steward of the vision, as the CEO of the company, or if even if you have a really important managerial role, we need you to be well and active and in good capacities, so that you show up and lead the best possible way and give your best level of quality of contribution to the business? And that you're a happy and clear human being more often than not and so courage, discernment and self-love, which really leads to your own sense of self-leadership. 

 

Priscilla (guest):

And I think a lot of when you're really evaluating so many things, I think grounding, a lot comes down to your basic values. Maybe revisiting what are those 5, 10 values that you always come back to? Is it integrity? Is it good customer service? Is that inclusivity? What is that, and I think those will be amazing filters to help you get there. And I always like to tell people when they're already overwhelmed, let's start with small things. Let's not do all the things and understand that things might take some time, some more than others. And sometimes you might feel like after you've made some progress, you take a step back or two, or you feel like you have a meltdown, or there's something that goes off. It's part of the process, right? 

 

Priscilla (guest):

Transformation, gross shifting, isn't linear, it's more like a spiral or a circle, right? If you can take that you can sometimes kind of backtrack a little, that's part of it. It's okay. And it's hard in a world that's always about just kind of like linear, linear growth, but I'm sure you've seen those charts that talk about this is what I thought entrepreneurship was a straight shot up to the moon, and then it's like, “Oh!"

 

Kathy (host):  

Spiralized. Yes.

 

Priscilla (guest):  

Room for grace and for compassion and for personal growth. Because really, at the end of the day, when we're talking about burnout, we're talking about an identity shift, and in my book, The Soulfluent® Leadership Business Guide, I have a chart called the Leadership Ascension Journey, which is really how we navigate this really massive kind of liminal phase of who we've been and who we're becoming and this identity shifts that happen, and that is necessary. 

 

Priscilla (guest):

As we step into a version of ourselves that is sustainable, that joyful, that is operating in our best capacities. And that means really doing what we said, having those honest conversations with ourselves, you know reexamining our beliefs of what's possible and not possible. And really the kind of person that we want to be as a leader in the kind of life that we want to live because life is short. And we've all been reminded of that. And even if we feel like there's no other choice than what we think we're doing, I would challenge you before you claim that there's no other choice and no other better way to talk to someone and see what else is possible here. And to challenge I don't have enough money, I don't have enough time. I don't try can't. Okay, I get it. Those are very valid concerns. And could there still be a way to navigate through them? That's even better than what you could have anticipated.

 

Kathy (host):  

This was such a great conversation, Priscilla. I cannot thank you enough. This is really, really good stuff. And I would encourage, if you're listening to this, to go listen to it again. Maybe a couple of days later, because there were so many things that we touched on that you can there's new and new material. But you know, I always ask this question, every single guest that comes on this podcast, because I also want to be actionable, because we throw a lot of stuff at you here. But I want to make sure that you get the actionable things that you can do in the next week. Priscilla, what if someone is at the verge of burnout, or they know that they're starting to get there, or they're even there already? What is the one small thing that they can do in the next week that will take them off that ledge?

 

Priscilla (guest):  

I think it's to just assess, or maybe again, what are the biggest dreams of their time and their energy right now? And then what do they think is the solution? Could there be a different, maybe even solution that's easier than what they've imagined? But I think just too sometimes we even forget, like what is because we're just like, just like got to fix it to kind of fix it. Well, what is really draining your time and your energy and maybe your resources that could even mean money? And if you could have waved a magic wand? How would you like it to be different? And then what would you need to believe? Or what support would you need to have in order to make that a reality sooner rather than later?

 

Kathy (host):  

Priscilla, where can people find you?

 

Priscilla (guest):  

priscillastephan.com. I also have my book, The Soulfluent® Leadership Business Guide, which shows you which personality type you are in terms of your leadership style. There are five, and you can take a quiz also at my website to identify your innate leadership style and how to apply that leadership style to grow a business that's in deep alignment with your vision, your truth, and your natural talent.

 

Kathy (host):  

Thank you so much for coming to the show.

 

Priscilla (guest):  

Thank you so much for having me.

 

Kathy (host):  

Thanks so much for joining us, and I hope that today's episode has given you some tips on embracing managing or stopping entrepreneurial burnout tracks so that you don't get involved in it in the first place. 

 

Kathy (host):  

Next week, we're going to be talking about franchising. My guest is going to be April Porter and we're going to be chatting about how to turn your business into a successful franchise, and how do you actually do it. So don't miss it! 

 

Kathy (host):  

Also, if you love this episode, you can find all the timestamps, show notes, blog posts, and links on the website, newcastlefinance.us. So be sure to check it out. 

 

Kathy (host):  

And also before we go, as always, I do have a favor to ask. If you're listening to this on Apple podcasts. If you could please go to the show and tap the number of stars that you think the show deserves because it helps other people find it. Thanks so much. Until next time!