Starting a business of any kind can be tough. We’re here to help, with our handy guide for how to avoid burnout as a first-time franchisee.
If you feel tired, stressed or frustrated as you set up your franchise unit, you’re not alone. Becoming a franchisee is a complicated and time-consuming process, involving a lot of hard work. It’s likely you’ll be working long hours and spending significant amounts of time away from family and friends – especially in the initial stages. While putting in the hours at the start will eventually bring plenty of worthwhile personal and financial rewards, it can feel tough.
At the same time, you’ll feel a pressure to succeed in your new venture and you may even be working towards goals that seem impossible to achieve to begin with. On top of this, you may be working late nights and losing out on sleep. All these factors can combine to have damaging effect on your mental wellbeing.
What exactly is burnout?
Before we get into how to avoid burnout, we should establish exactly what it is.
Burnout is a reaction to prolonged or chronic job stress and is characterised by three main dimensions: exhaustion, cynicism (less identification with the job), and feelings of reduced professional ability. – verywellmind.com
Unfortunately, burnout is becoming increasingly common. In fact, 23 percent of workers ‘very often’ or ‘always’ feel burnt out, while 13 percent find it hard to unwind in the evenings and at weekends. Worryingly, almost two thirds of adults say work-related stress causes them to engage in unhealthy behaviours.
This level of stress and anxiety can have disastrous consequences, from fatigue and insomnia to heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. It’s also linked to many cases of alcohol and substance abuse.
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Am I suffering from burnout?
It’s hard to find ways to avoid burnout if you don’t know what causes it in the first place. Burnout can stem from an unmanageable workload, high levels of pressure and a lack of recognition. According to psychotherapist Jacky Francis Walker:
Another issue can be that the values of the company are seriously at odds with the person’s own values, which creates a sense of strain and dissonance, because they’re doing something that they don’t believe in.
If you’re suffering from burnout, you may be experiencing some of the following:
- You no longer enjoy your job
- You feel you don’t have enough energy to do your job
- You’re pessimistic and irritable
- You find it hard to concentrate
- You don’t get satisfaction from your achievements
- You’re not getting enough sleep
- You get headaches, stomach or bowel issues, or other unexplained problems
- You’ve become forgetful
- You’ve lost your appetite
This isn’t an exhaustive list, so if you think you’re suffering with burnout, talk to a friend, family member or medical professional.
How to avoid burnout
1. Seek help
When it comes to mental health, it’s always best to talk to someone if you can. If you’re starting to struggle with setting up your franchise, be open and honest about how you’re feeling. Even if you just mention your concerns in passing, you could find your fellow franchisees, friends or loved ones offer advice or a different perspective, helping you in the long run.
Exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle, so you should make time for it if you can. Most people agree it reduces stress and boosts your mood, so it can help prevent burnout. If you struggle to motivate yourself to get out and about regularly, or feel you don’t have time in your busy schedule, try adding it into your weekly routine as a fixed activity. Treat it like a meeting or appointment that can’t be missed.
3. Eat well
By eating healthily, you’re feeding your mind as well as your stomach. Nutritious foods can work wonders for your productivity and mood, so make sure you eat them regularly. Although it’s tempting to go for meals loaded with carbs or snack on sugary treats when you’re feeling stressed, a rounded diet should help protect your mental health.
4. Practise mindfulness
You may have pre-conceived ideas about mindfulness, but increasing numbers of people are using it to improve their wellbeing. Practising meditation, yoga or tai chi, for example, can help focus the mind and improve mental health – which should help avoid burnout. You don’t have to go to a class if you don’t want to; there are plenty of online resources and mobile apps that can guide you, and dedicating as little as 10 minutes a day can have a positive impact.
5. Improve your sleep
Many people find their sleeping habits change when they suffer from burnout. If you’re struggling to get enough sleep, try incorporating mindfulness techniques into your evening routine. Meditating before bed can help calm your thoughts and reduce anxiety, which should allow you to get more sleep.
6. Learn to say ‘no’
If you’re experiencing burnout because you’ve taken on too many responsibilities, you should think about ways to limit your workload. One option is to delegate certain tasks to your employees or considering hiring some. They may be enthusiastic to take on jobs that give them more control over the direction of the franchise. Sometimes, however, you may need to just say ‘no’ – and that’s alright.
Prioritise the most important duties and avoid taking on new commitments when your plate is already full. Ultimately, the franchise will benefit more from having a healthy, happy franchisee than it would if you were exhausted, irritable and rushing through your responsibilities.
7. Take breaks
Take the time to relax between busy periods. It’s often helpful to put some space between you and a project, even if it’s just for five minutes. Make sure you regularly get out of your chair, stretch your legs and drink plenty of water. You may even find you’re more productive after incorporating breaks into your schedule than you were before.
8. Turn off technology
Modern technology is great, but it does mean our work lives sometimes come home with us. Checking emails and being distracted by other notifications can have a detrimental impact not only on your mental health, but on your family life too. For this reason, many people find it useful to turn off their technology when they get home. Setting aside a few hours after working on your franchise to spend time with loved ones and unwind without distractions should help avoid burnout as you set up and run your franchise unit.
9. Recognise small successes
When you’re launching a business, it can be hard to appreciate small victories when you feel you’re not reaching your main targets. But starting a franchise is a learning curve, so take the time to reward yourself for your progress if you don’t reach your goals initially. It could take months or even years to break even, for example, so look at the big picture and let yourself off the hook if you’ve still made good progress.
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How to make sure your employees avoid burnout
Part of being a great franchisee is making sure your employees are happy and healthy. So, here are a few steps you can take to reinforce your wellbeing values in your workforce:
- Offer flexible work arrangements – Today, more and more employers let their staff work remotely and adapt their hours to suit their lifestyle.
- Introduce ongoing personal development opportunities – This could include training programmes or online courses to help employees boost their knowledge and skillset.
- Praise good work – Staff members will have higher levels of job satisfaction if their employer recognises achievements, so take the time to celebrate good work.
- Establish a helpline – Introduce an employee helpline and give staff members the chance to talk in confidence to a professional counsellor.
- Give out gym memberships – Including gym memberships as part of your employee benefit package should encourage staff members to let off some steam at a local health club. If the business can’t afford to finance this, you could offer discounts instead, or establish free ways to get fit, like a work running club.
Great franchises to join to avoid burnout
If you’re wondering how to avoid burnout as a first-time franchisee, you should choose your franchise with your wellbeing in mind. In other words, join a franchise with great benefits, whether it’s flexible work opportunities or the chance to start a part-time business. Take a look at our franchise catalogue to find the right investment opportunity for you. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Remember, many businesses offer part-time franchise agreements, so be on the lookout for these as you narrow down your investment shortlist.
Alice Tuffery, Point Franchise ©