Avoiding Founder Burnout
Running a business is stressful. That’s a fact, not an opinion or a feeling: the phenomenon of founder burnout is real, and something you need to take into account when you’re making your plans.
There are plenty of factors playing into this phenomenon: there’s the isolation of being in a senior position (especially in a small company, where you might have only a small team behind you and no one to act as a trusted peer), the anxiety of your decisions needing to succeed or facing the consequences – imagine having to tell the people you employ you’re not able to pay them because of a mistake you’ve made.
On top of that you have to deal with sheer unpredictability of the world around you. The best laid plans of mice and CEOs can be disrupted by bad weather, unexpected deals and promotions from your rivals, or the collapse of the American mortgage market: all things you are powerless to affect. Being at the mercy of forces way beyond your control erodes your ability to relax unless you can make your peace with it, so this is something you need to address.
Working with consultancy companies can really help! You need engage your critical faculties and be selective, or it would be extremely easy to spend a lot of money on ‘experts’ who don’t actually contribute anything.
Identifying the areas where some outside expertise would give you a tactical advantage is one of the important decisions that full into your remit, but once you’ve made those decisions a whole new world opens up.
Partnering with a good business lawyer doesn’t just give you sound advice when you’re signing contracts. A lawyer is a highly trained independent expert, and someone who can understand the isolation of your position. They can be that most important of things, a peer for you to talk to honestly about the pressures of running a business. You really cannot understand just how important it is to have someone who understand some of the conditions you’re operating under.
Helping you make better decisions are market research firms. Having the data from interviews, brand trackers and advertising tests takes the burden off your simple judgement – you have numbers and insights from experts to drive your decision making process, and help you make the right choices every time.
Overall, the lesson is don’t be scared to reach out for help, both professional and personal. Create a network of peers that aren’t just there for you but are also talented businesspeople in their own right, for real insight and real understanding.