Other Resources My Cup of Joe » Small Business Owners - Burnout Rss Feed  
Moderators: k9car363, the bear, DerekL, alicefoeller Reply
2010-01-04 10:38 AM

User image

Champion
7347
5000200010010010025
SRQ, FL
Subject: Small Business Owners - Burnout
For you small business owners... how do you prevent burning out.  I'm to that point where it's more hassle than fun anymore.  When you start a business it's exciting and new.  Everyday is an adventure.  I'm now to the point where dealing with taxes, bills, HR issues, chasing down payments from customers etc... is becoming more of my day than engineering.

I'd love to off load some of this stuff but a) that costs more $ and b) it's not enough of any one specific thing to farm out.

The company is doing well and I consider myself fortunate to have a stable income in this economy.  But I'm bored...and restless.  The final piece of the puzzle is FL.  I'm sick of this state (yeah I know I'm goig to get a lot of "It's 2deg F here" comments) but we are ready for a change.  FL is a scary state to raise children.


Add in the rising costs of insurance, health care etc.. it's just getting to be a drag.  Have any of you SBOs thought about just going back to work for someone else?  Did you.  Was it a wise choice?

(And this is not the "back to work" blues.  I've been having these thoughts for the last 6 months now)


2010-01-04 10:52 AM
in reply to: #2592375

User image

Elite
3290
20001000100100252525
Oliver, BC, "Wine Capital of Canada"
Subject: RE: Small Business Owners - Burnout

The key is to keep the business in a constant state of change or progression. I've been in business since 87 and yes there were times when it started to become a job and not a business. Those were the time when I knew I needed to expand, or change direction slightly.
Don't know what your business is but our business is 60% retail and 40% service so for us it's easy to either offer different products or add in new services.

Trade shows are another great revitalizer as you meet other people related to line of work to share ideas and see industry direction first hand.

Sounds like you need a part timer to take care of the mundane tasks so you can focus more on the business itself.

2010-01-04 11:03 AM
in reply to: #2592375

User image

Pro
4277
20002000100100252525
Parker, CO
Subject: RE: Small Business Owners - Burnout

I owned my own business from 1995 to 1998.  I had a lot of the same issues you are having.  Not so much burn-out...I loved owning my small business and all the different responsibilites.  But it seemed the more the business grew the more bad accounts I had.  Really would pizz me off that a guy I worked my arse off for would screw me out of money!  I had other struggles as well.  What really made me realize it wasn't for me anymore was when we decided that we would have kids.  we wanted my wife to be home for the kids as much as possible.  The cost of health and disabilty insurance were just sucking up too much of my income.  I finally sold the business and went back to working for a company.  I've worked for 4 different companies since getting back to the corporate world.  So obviously I have not found exactly what I am looking for...but I have been steadily employed.

Was it a wise choice?  I like to think so.  We now have 2-kids and my wife works part-time and is home with the kids.  It's been that way since my daughter was about 18-months (she's 10 now).  Also, I work fewer hours than when i worked for myself so I get good quality time with the kids.  Also, when I owned my business the boss was a really hardarse.  Glad I don't work for that jerk anymore!

Seriously, it's worked out pretty well for me but if everything would have worked the way I wanted it too with my business I would still be doing it.   I often wonder if I would have done a couple things differently if it would have worked out better.  Good luck with your decision I know it's not an easy one to make.



Edited by rayd 2010-01-04 11:05 AM
2010-01-04 11:37 AM
in reply to: #2592375

User image

Veteran
840
50010010010025
Subject: RE: Small Business Owners - Burnout
Would you be happier getting smaller, handling as much as possible and making great money as a small outfit...

or...

Hiring more staff, Grossing more but earning less.

You are at that decision point.  Think carefully then go forward.

Another strategy would be to go the growth route with an eye on selling when the economy improves or a buyer is found, then starting all over again.
2010-01-04 11:45 AM
in reply to: #2592375

User image

Buttercup
14321
5000500020002000100100100
Subject: RE: Small Business Owners - Burnout
Do you enjoy being an engineer? Is your dissatisfaction tied to the fact that you aren't being a worker-bee engineer, and not enjoying biz ops and/or biz dev?
 
2010-01-04 12:02 PM
in reply to: #2592375

User image

Champion
7347
5000200010010010025
SRQ, FL
Subject: RE: Small Business Owners - Burnout
First thanks for the input...

Yes, I think my dissatisfaction does come partially from being working on "mundane" stuff.  But I'll be honest, it would take a HUGE amount of effort to train someone else to do these things (but I guess one day it will need to be done).

I also think partially I'm tired of my industry.  It's all I've ever known.  Our industy is a niche market.  You spend a LOT of hours and effort just to get the customer a proposal.  Then 8/10 times they say it's too expensive ("Oh I was thinking like 50% of that") or they have "changed" direction.  It's also an industry where I KNOW they need the machinery, the customer engineer KNOWS they need the machinery, but the accounting depts or management refuse to pay for it.  It's hard watching your customers make mistakes.  (Pure and simple mistakes....NOT buying a machine that has a 6 month ROI is a mistake...

Lots of manufacturers are like farmers.  Make a product, grow the product.  Low margins but stable and not too exciting.  Our market is more akin to hunting.  Kills are few and far between but are very profitable and exciting.  However your tummy grumbles form time to time (then you eat like a king for a while)   <-- I'm sure none of that made sense not knowing our industry




Edited by TriRSquared 2010-01-04 12:08 PM


2010-01-04 1:22 PM
in reply to: #2592636

User image

Champion
4835
2000200050010010010025
Eat Cheese or Die
Subject: RE: Small Business Owners - Burnout
TriRSquared - 2010-01-04 12:02 PM

First thanks for the input...

Yes, I think my dissatisfaction does come partially from being working on "mundane" stuff.  But I'll be honest, it would take a HUGE amount of effort to train someone else to do these things (but I guess one day it will need to be done).

I also think partially I'm tired of my industry.  It's all I've ever known.  Our industy is a niche market.  You spend a LOT of hours and effort just to get the customer a proposal.  Then 8/10 times they say it's too expensive ("Oh I was thinking like 50% of that") or they have "changed" direction.  It's also an industry where I KNOW they need the machinery, the customer engineer KNOWS they need the machinery, but the accounting depts or management refuse to pay for it.  It's hard watching your customers make mistakes.  (Pure and simple mistakes....NOT buying a machine that has a 6 month ROI is a mistake...

Lots of manufacturers are like farmers.  Make a product, grow the product.  Low margins but stable and not too exciting.  Our market is more akin to hunting.  Kills are few and far between but are very profitable and exciting.  However your tummy grumbles form time to time (then you eat like a king for a while)   <-- I'm sure none of that made sense not knowing our industry




That all made sense to me.

I'm not a small business owner. I had aspirations to have my own retail store, but I don't think it is for me for all the reasons you've stated. I want to deal with my product/service, not with the mundane running of the business stuff.

However, you sound like you are in the position where my current employer was a couple years ago. You either need to grow or shrink. Growing means taking on another employee to take over the mundane, and allow you to get back to doing what you like, at least a little bit. Or you have to shrink. The business won't last if it's stagnant and you are unhappy. My boss chose to grow and my job is a result of that. They are making less money, but the company is getting bigger. Eventually it will grow enough that they will be making more then before while doing less mundane work. At least that's the plan.
2010-01-04 1:24 PM
in reply to: #2592636

User image

Master
1795
1000500100100252525
Boynton Beach, FL
Subject: RE: Small Business Owners - Burnout
Florida has its perks business-wise:

1) No state income tax
2) even with recent lift, relatively low property taxes, extremly low if you are Homesteaded and have been here for a while.
3) Low (but growing) insurance rate for workers comp.
4) 1 of top 4 states hit hardest by recession, but will also provide best opportunity for growth. Especially in your field.

Your right about social/community issues in the state. Education is poor and I do not see getting better soon. Higher education is the exception. In terms of manufacturing, I see it improving in Southeast FL. Still not heavy, but businesses are holding their own and I lend to these businesses and have been suprised myself at approval rates on these requests. If not state-wide, could be regional issues there on west coast.

Good luck with whatever you decide.


2010-01-04 2:28 PM
in reply to: #2592375

User image

Pro
4909
20002000500100100100100
Hailey, ID
Subject: RE: Small Business Owners - Burnout
http://www.amazon.com/E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-About/dp/08...

Read this book if you haven't yet. It's great. I have been running my own business for almost 8 years now.


2010-01-04 3:25 PM
in reply to: #2592375

User image

Atlanta, Georgia
Subject: RE: Small Business Owners - Burnout
My dad owned a small business for 20 years so this is coming from my perspective and not his.
This year will mark the 5-year anniversary of when he sold his business. The interesting thing is that he worked out a deal where he sold his business to a larger company (based in another state) and agreed to "run" his office as a Senior VP (he was basically guarunteed the position for so many years as part of the deal).

In the past 5 years he's talked a lot about the changes the "new" owners have made, and how hard it is for him to sit back and work for them while he wholeheartedly disagrees with their new business strategy. That would be one thing I'd caution about, if you were to go back to working for someone else - it's pretty hard to not be the one calling the shots anymore, and have to do as you're told.

I feel bad for him. I think he's just riding it out until he can retire but in the meantime he really hates his job now. I'm not sure how old you are or your education or field or anything, but for my Dad he is very short on options as he is not a college graduate and has no other experience except this (very niche) market he started his business in. He can't afford to retire just yet, so is kind of stuck working for someone else in a company he built himself.

Just some things to think about.

2010-01-04 3:56 PM
in reply to: #2592636

User image

Extreme Veteran
446
10010010010025
Barrington, IL
Subject: RE: Small Business Owners - Burnout
TriRSquared - 2010-01-04 12:02 PM First thanks for the input...

Yes, I think my dissatisfaction does come partially from being working on "mundane" stuff.  But I'll be honest, it would take a HUGE amount of effort to train someone else to do these things (but I guess one day it will need to be done).

I also think partially I'm tired of my industry.  It's all I've ever known.  Our industy is a niche market.  You spend a LOT of hours and effort just to get the customer a proposal.  Then 8/10 times they say it's too expensive ("Oh I was thinking like 50% of that") or they have "changed" direction.  It's also an industry where I KNOW they need the machinery, the customer engineer KNOWS they need the machinery, but the accounting depts or management refuse to pay for it.  It's hard watching your customers make mistakes.  (Pure and simple mistakes....NOT buying a machine that has a 6 month ROI is a mistake...

Lots of manufacturers are like farmers.  Make a product, grow the product.  Low margins but stable and not too exciting.  Our market is more akin to hunting.  Kills are few and far between but are very profitable and exciting.  However your tummy grumbles form time to time (then you eat like a king for a while)   <-- I'm sure none of that made sense not knowing our industry




Off topic in regards to business change, however on the sales side of the business:

It sounds like you sales people, or yourself, are not selling to the right people in the organization. If you truly have a 6 month ROI you need to be selling to CXO's at the companies you target. They think big picture and you don't have to worry about low level accounting or mid-level managers killing the deal.

Especially over the last 2 years mid-level management are hesitant to pull the trigger on large purchases regardless of the ROI because they fear a mistake will cost them their job. Getting to THE BOSS takes care of this in the majority of the cases.

Also - it sounds like you need to handle the sales process differently. If cost is a factor and 80% of the time they say it is too expensive you need to handle that up front before the work. For example: "If I could show you a product that costs X that will give you and ROI within 6 months would you like to move forward on working on the project together".

I don't know you business but sometimes people who have never had sales experience but are great at what they do struggle in the business development part of it.

Good luck!!!!


2010-01-04 3:59 PM
in reply to: #2592636

User image

Master
2006
2000
Portland, ME
Subject: RE: Small Business Owners - Burnout
TriRSquared - 2010-01-04 12:02 PM First thanks for the input...

Yes, I think my dissatisfaction does come partially from being working on "mundane" stuff.  But I'll be honest, it would take a HUGE amount of effort to train someone else to do these things (but I guess one day it will need to be done).

I also think partially I'm tired of my industry.  It's all I've ever known.  Our industy is a niche market.  You spend a LOT of hours and effort just to get the customer a proposal.  Then 8/10 times they say it's too expensive ("Oh I was thinking like 50% of that") or they have "changed" direction.  It's also an industry where I KNOW they need the machinery, the customer engineer KNOWS they need the machinery, but the accounting depts or management refuse to pay for it.  It's hard watching your customers make mistakes.  (Pure and simple mistakes....NOT buying a machine that has a 6 month ROI is a mistake...

Lots of manufacturers are like farmers.  Make a product, grow the product.  Low margins but stable and not too exciting.  Our market is more akin to hunting.  Kills are few and far between but are very profitable and exciting.  However your tummy grumbles form time to time (then you eat like a king for a while)   <-- I'm sure none of that made sense not knowing our industry




I just had my 10th year anniversary of owning my business and have gone through burnout more than once.

Delegating the mundane stuff helped a ton. I'm just about to the point where all I'm doing is creating more business and doing big picture vision stuff and to me that's fun.

Also, have you ever thought of selling and starting something new? For me personally, I could never work for anyone else. I just don't have it in me to have a boss.
2010-01-04 6:58 PM
in reply to: #2593340

User image

Extreme Veteran
567
5002525
Kingwood, TX
Subject: RE: Small Business Owners - Burnout
Magnum27 - 2010-01-04 3:56 PM
TriRSquared - 2010-01-04 12:02 PM First thanks for the input...

Yes, I think my dissatisfaction does come partially from being working on "mundane" stuff.  But I'll be honest, it would take a HUGE amount of effort to train someone else to do these things (but I guess one day it will need to be done).

I also think partially I'm tired of my industry.  It's all I've ever known.  Our industy is a niche market.  You spend a LOT of hours and effort just to get the customer a proposal.  Then 8/10 times they say it's too expensive ("Oh I was thinking like 50% of that") or they have "changed" direction.  It's also an industry where I KNOW they need the machinery, the customer engineer KNOWS they need the machinery, but the accounting depts or management refuse to pay for it.  It's hard watching your customers make mistakes.  (Pure and simple mistakes....NOT buying a machine that has a 6 month ROI is a mistake...

Lots of manufacturers are like farmers.  Make a product, grow the product.  Low margins but stable and not too exciting.  Our market is more akin to hunting.  Kills are few and far between but are very profitable and exciting.  However your tummy grumbles form time to time (then you eat like a king for a while)   <-- I'm sure none of that made sense not knowing our industry




Off topic in regards to business change, however on the sales side of the business:

It sounds like you sales people, or yourself, are not selling to the right people in the organization. If you truly have a 6 month ROI you need to be selling to CXO's at the companies you target. They think big picture and you don't have to worry about low level accounting or mid-level managers killing the deal.

Especially over the last 2 years mid-level management are hesitant to pull the trigger on large purchases regardless of the ROI because they fear a mistake will cost them their job. Getting to THE BOSS takes care of this in the majority of the cases.

Also - it sounds like you need to handle the sales process differently. If cost is a factor and 80% of the time they say it is too expensive you need to handle that up front before the work. For example: "If I could show you a product that costs X that will give you and ROI within 6 months would you like to move forward on working on the project together".

I don't know you business but sometimes people who have never had sales experience but are great at what they do struggle in the business development part of it.

Good luck!!!!


x2 on what Magnum27 said!  First, I have been a small business owner and I come from a sales background.  As I was reading your posts I thought, "He needs to re-evaluate how sales are being conducted and set expectations with the customers before the presentations are prepared."  Then Magnum27's post hit it spot on!

I am willing to bet that the feelings you are experincing right now would subside substantially and become more manageable when the tummy isn't grumbling!  Breath some fresh air into your sales techniques and you may rediscover the fun that got you into the business in the first place.

Good luck with your decision!
2010-01-04 8:52 PM
in reply to: #2593734

User image

Champion
7347
5000200010010010025
SRQ, FL
Subject: RE: Small Business Owners - Burnout
JeffIrvin - 2010-01-04 7:58 PM
Magnum27 - 2010-01-04 3:56 PM
TriRSquared - 2010-01-04 12:02 PM First thanks for the input...

Yes, I think my dissatisfaction does come partially from being working on "mundane" stuff.  But I'll be honest, it would take a HUGE amount of effort to train someone else to do these things (but I guess one day it will need to be done).

I also think partially I'm tired of my industry.  It's all I've ever known.  Our industy is a niche market.  You spend a LOT of hours and effort just to get the customer a proposal.  Then 8/10 times they say it's too expensive ("Oh I was thinking like 50% of that") or they have "changed" direction.  It's also an industry where I KNOW they need the machinery, the customer engineer KNOWS they need the machinery, but the accounting depts or management refuse to pay for it.  It's hard watching your customers make mistakes.  (Pure and simple mistakes....NOT buying a machine that has a 6 month ROI is a mistake...

Lots of manufacturers are like farmers.  Make a product, grow the product.  Low margins but stable and not too exciting.  Our market is more akin to hunting.  Kills are few and far between but are very profitable and exciting.  However your tummy grumbles form time to time (then you eat like a king for a while)   <-- I'm sure none of that made sense not knowing our industry




Off topic in regards to business change, however on the sales side of the business:

It sounds like you sales people, or yourself, are not selling to the right people in the organization. If you truly have a 6 month ROI you need to be selling to CXO's at the companies you target. They think big picture and you don't have to worry about low level accounting or mid-level managers killing the deal.

Especially over the last 2 years mid-level management are hesitant to pull the trigger on large purchases regardless of the ROI because they fear a mistake will cost them their job. Getting to THE BOSS takes care of this in the majority of the cases.

Also - it sounds like you need to handle the sales process differently. If cost is a factor and 80% of the time they say it is too expensive you need to handle that up front before the work. For example: "If I could show you a product that costs X that will give you and ROI within 6 months would you like to move forward on working on the project together".

I don't know you business but sometimes people who have never had sales experience but are great at what they do struggle in the business development part of it.

Good luck!!!!


x2 on what Magnum27 said!  First, I have been a small business owner and I come from a sales background.  As I was reading your posts I thought, "He needs to re-evaluate how sales are being conducted and set expectations with the customers before the presentations are prepared."  Then Magnum27's post hit it spot on!

I am willing to bet that the feelings you are experincing right now would subside substantially and become more manageable when the tummy isn't grumbling!  Breath some fresh air into your sales techniques and you may rediscover the fun that got you into the business in the first place.

Good luck with your decision!


I respect your and Magnum's input but this is a very unique industry.  At companies like Coke & Pepsi or J&J it's not the manager or directors who are in charge.  It's the accountants.  You have to sell to them as well as the engineers.

We do set expectations.  However until you get into the nuts and bolts the best you can do is say "maybe $xxx,000 to $yyy,000".  When it comes in at $yyyk they want it to be $xxxK.

Things are going well right now.  I'm not grumbling due to lack of sales.  We are one of the largest type of companies in our industry in the south.  We are doing something right.  I'm just not sure I want to be doing IT anymore.

I'm honestly not trying to be snippy.  I have been in this business for 12+ years (owned the company for 5).  If we were not doing it right we'd have gone out of business a long time ago. 

Again, thanks for the input...

(and yeah I wonder if I could tolerate being the one not calling the shots.  That's probably the single scariest part of the decision)
2010-01-04 9:41 PM
in reply to: #2592375

User image

Pro
4339
2000200010010010025
Husker Nation
Subject: RE: Small Business Owners - Burnout
So far so good for our SBO. Wife handles the books, I bring in the buckets of money, everyone's happy. We don't have any collection issues because our clients are very good about paying. We give you one shot to dink us around on a payment before we no longer work for you. Just not worth it to us - there are plenty of fish out there for us to catch rather than have you sucking the life out of us for a few hundred bucks. I didn't read any of the other comments in this thread, but I hope you got some sage advice and can turn things around pretty quick!
2010-01-05 6:39 AM
in reply to: #2593063

User image

Champion
7347
5000200010010010025
SRQ, FL
Subject: RE: Small Business Owners - Burnout
bradword - 2010-01-04 3:28 PM http://www.amazon.com/E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-About/dp/08... Read this book if you haven't yet. It's great. I have been running my own business for almost 8 years now.


I'll have a look... thanks...


2010-01-05 10:27 AM
in reply to: #2592375

User image

Master
2474
20001001001001002525
Oceanside, California
Subject: RE: Small Business Owners - Burnout
Great timing guys, I was thinking about trying to launch our LLP with my wife this month.

Luckily, we are in the type of industry where we can run part-time on the side to test the waters.


to answer the OP, have you considered getting an intern or college student?
It will cost less, AND they would be more motivated to be trained. (You could even sell some free labor for independent study credit if you are willing to mentor.

You could go business student for office operations or sales.
Or you could go engineering student who has an entrepreneurial itch.

Who knows, you may even find a diamond in the rough?

The mentorship of a young buck may also revitalize some of your burnout.
2010-01-05 12:29 PM
in reply to: #2594953

User image

Champion
7347
5000200010010010025
SRQ, FL
Subject: RE: Small Business Owners - Burnout
Unfortunately an intern cannot do the taxes, meet with the lawyers, negotiate leases etc..  I'd need to hire a professional for things like this.  I'm just not sure we have quite enough work to keep someone busy (but too much for me to do).
2010-01-05 7:20 PM
in reply to: #2592375

User image

Extreme Veteran
429
10010010010025
Subject: RE: Small Business Owners - Burnout
Disclosure - I used to work for this company (quit only because I moved too far away to commute, otherwise I would possibly still be working there!). My brother does currently work for this company.

There is a company called Applied Underwriters (you can google it) that processes your payroll, files all your payroll taxes, and also handles work comp, risk reduction, and disclosures that are required to be posted by law, etc. They charge their fees as a % of payroll; and work comp is paid on a by-paycheck basis rather than making an estimate at the beginning of the year and having to pay a set amount throughout the year regardless of what your payroll is.

I am Bripod's wife, and our business is so small (as far as number of employees) that we don't need work comp and I can handle all our taxes and payroll. However, something like this might be a good solution for you.

Another idea is to use a service like Paychex or another payroll service, which would also handle all of your employment taxes (941, 940, state unemployment insurance). I believe this is fairly cheap, and if you make as much money as I think you probably do then you would be money ahead to let someone else do it for you. Then let an accountant deal with your company income taxes. That doesn't solve all of your problems, but it would at least take some of the administrative burden off of you without having to hire or train anyone new, leaving you free to do the work you actually enjoy.

I can't give any advice on any of the other things, but from where I'm sitting, working for yourself is a pretty sweet deal. I hope that we never have to go back to working for somebody else.

Good luck with whatever you decide!
New Thread
Other Resources My Cup of Joe » Small Business Owners - Burnout Rss Feed