This was originally published on AllBusiness.
It’s been a hell of a year, hasn’t it? Between the pandemic and politics—not to mention the day-to-day stressors the average small business has—it’s been challenging to keep our heads above water, let alone think about the future. I think I’m not the only one who’s experienced a bit of burnout this year, am I right?
But as things slow down a bit around this holiday season, I invite you to do three things: rest, reframe, and rejuvenate. Trust me, both you and your business will be better for it.
Rest Your Body and Mind So You Can Get Back to Crushing it
Even if you normally take a vacation, you may not have taken one this year. Where is there to go? The idea of getting on a plane wearing a mask for several hours and wiping every available surface does not appeal to many of us. I try to take at least one international trip a year, and have had three trips canceled because of Covid-19 this year.
And yet, entrepreneurs desperately need that time to disconnect and unwind. Starting and running a business understandably requires more work and causes more stress: 61% of entrepreneurs have higher stress levels than when they started their businesses, and 60% struggle to take time off.
That’s bad for business.
Even if you can’t go on your annual ski vacation this year, find time for rest. That might mean taking a Friday off now and then (a practice I highly recommend!) or spending a long weekend in a cabin in the woods. Heck, it could just be getting a massage or turning off your phone after work hours if that’s the best you can do. But I encourage you not to devalue the importance of being well-rested. A brain that isn’t stressed and overtaxed can come up with innovative ideas.
Reframe How You Do Business
The biggest takeaway from 2020 is that we can’t rely on how we used to conduct our businesses. Whether that’s because the quarantine kept you from serving customers in person or that you had a huge learning curve for using video calls with clients, there is something that has fundamentally shifted.
Don’t take that as a one-time lesson. You may struggle now to attract business the way you used to, either because of the economic climate making consumers gun-shy about spending money or because the market has changed. The worst thing you can do is continue doing “business as usual.” These are not usual times, and even when things level off, we will need to have a permanent plan in place for what our businesses will look like moving forward.
Remember that business plan you drafted all those years ago? Now would be an excellent time to revisit it as more than likely it needs to be updated. Where you find customers, what you sell, and your long-term strategy may have shifted, so put those changes in writing; your business is there to remind you of how you might need to pivot to survive.
I’m always amazed at how resilient small businesses are. I’ve read about a day spa that transitioned to offering at-home facial kits. A magician who, being unable to give in-person performances, now has paid shows on Zoom. Restaurants that have deftly navigated changing rules and added outdoor seating and more takeaway and delivery options. Even if this year has destroyed your business, consider how you can rise out of the ashes like the beautiful phoenix you are.
Rejuvenate Your Love for What You do
I occasionally go through extreme burnout in my business and lose passion for what I do. It can be tough to do the same thing for years. But when I feel like I can’t go on another day, I step back. I rest. I take time away from my business and don’t even think about it for days or weeks. Inevitably, when I return, I feel better.
That might work for you. You might try something else like coming up with a new product or service, or finding different industries to work with. You might learn a new skill. Or hire help to take some of the pressure off of you.
You started this business because you were passionate about it, but just like in a relationship, sometimes you have to reignite that spark. Don’t let your passion die, or running your small business will consume your soul. Burnout is a thing, but it’s easily remedied.
And if these rejuvenation ideas don’t work, consider that it might be time to call it quits. Again, just like in a relationship, sometimes there’s a shelf life for your business, and denying that will only make you unhappy. Find an exit path and make room for something new to light you up.
I wish you the best of holidays this season. Even with such strife, we still have much to be thankful for. And who couldn’t use a little holiday cheer to wrap up what has been an overwhelming and stressful year for all?