Overwhelmed and Exhausted… That’s No Way to Grow Your Business!

You’re probably seeing a lot of headlines these days about how overwhelmed people are feeling. There’s a lot of burnout, stress, anxiety and just plain overwork going around – and it’s impacting everyone.

But if you’re a business owner or a leader, it’s a pretty safe bet that you’re experiencing a lot of those same challenges but with higher stakes. Your bad day impacts a whole team of people, not just you (or your family).

But what can you do about it?

Short Term View

Realistically you need to think about this in two time horizons. The short term view is what you need to do now in order to keep moving, finish out the day or the week strong, or maybe just how to find a way to get out of bed.

If you’re in the thick of things and it’s a bad day – here are some ideas that will help. I previously wrote about 6 Things to do When Everything is Crashing Down On You. A quick summary if you don’t want to read the whole article:

  1. De-stress yourself – quick hits so you can breathe and react
  2. Know what you want – take a minute to get clear
  3. Have a plan – even a few bullet point steps can help
  4. Be consistent – spread the effort over time and follow through
  5. Have someone to talk to – a shared burden lightens the load
  6. Take action – start doing something and you’ll immediately feel (a bit) better

I also previously wrote about ideas to help you deal with the situation of just being exhausted and not wanting to get off the couch. Admittedly these are some common sense ideas – but as they say, common sense isn’t all that common these days and I suspect everyone could benefit from stepping back a bit, getting organized and focused and building up momentum with small wins.

Long Term View…

If you get better at dealing with being overwhelmed in the short term, you’ll be much more effective, productive and happy. But… you’ll still be facing a constant uphill climb – especially if your business is growing and the world keeps changing.

To really get out in front of being overwhelmed, you need to fundamentally change your mindset, your organizational structure and how you approach work. Let’s take a quick look at each of those ideas:

Change your Mindset – Be an Entrepreneur

It starts with your mindset – how you think about work… I love Mike Michalowicz’s quote on this idea:

“Entrepreneurs don’t do most of the work.  Entrepreneurs identify the problems, discover the opportunities and then build processes to allow other people and other things to do the work.”

– Mike Michalowicz (author of Profit First, The Pumpkin Plan, Fix This Next and Clockwork

As a business owner (or even a team leader), the bulk of your job needs to be about looking ahead and figuring out WHO is going to do the actual work, now HOW to do it.

This is a pretty big jump for a lot of business owners, but if you can get there, all the sudden it will feel like the world is slowing down (just a bit) because you’re not worried about what needs to happen today, you’re looking at a much bigger timeline.

Build Your Team – Get More Leadership

Of course in order to successfully get other people to do the work, you need to have people on your team who are capable of taking on the responsibility of delivering to your expectations. There’s a huge difference between delegating a task and delegating an outcome.

When you delegate an outcome, you’re asking someone else to figure out how to get something important done on the company’s behalf. Which means they have the freedom and the wherewithal to figure out how to do it and the authority and ability to make sure it gets done. That’s why you need more leadership – without it, every significant decision will come back to you (which will make you feel overwhelmed again…).

Streamline and Simplify

Finally – the best thing you can do to minimize future situations where you (and everyone else around you) feel overwhelmed, is to find ways to streamline and simplify your business.

Growing a business is hard – but it’s exponentially harder when you have to succeed at hundreds of things because of the complexity in the business. Consider the situation where you are approached by a new client who wants something that you don’t currently offer. Because you’re an entrepreneur, you’ll most likely say ‘Yes we can do that for you’, and then scramble to figure out how to do it.

Now multiply that situation by 20… or 100 because you’ve been doing this for several years. You deliver a lot of great things, but the way you deliver each of them is different – and someone has to keep track of all of that and manage it.

Streamlining and Simplifying is all about figuring out how to make things repeatable and scalable. That probably means that you need to cut some of your difficult clients and services (or products). You need to look for automation, set expectations appropriately (under promise and over deliver) and generally think about how to make things easier on you and your team. It’s a long road, but even just a few steps down it will enable you to see a lot of benefits – including a lot lower probability of being overwhelmed.

What do you think? Have you been feeling more overwhelmed lately? What could you do about it? We’d love to hear your story (leave us a comment) or talk to you about fixing it (contact us). In any event, I hope you found some ideas that can help you – thanks for reading.

Shawn Kinkade Kansas City Business Coach