My first significant business venture was my home bakery. It was so much fun! I enjoyed spending all my free time in the kitchen, so it felt natural for me to make money doing something I loved! In the beginning, everything was wonderful. I was barely making any profit, but I loved placing my own little stamp on the delivery boxes and running the social media- it felt legit, you know?!
I remember how I struggled as a teenager when I was trying to figure out what to major in once I got to college. My dad would tell me, “Even if you love what you do, work is still work sometimes and it’s not always fun.” It felt cruel of him at the time, but it’s been one of the truest things that I’ve heard. My home bakery business was a blast and I loved getting to do everything, until I didn’t anymore.
That’s when I experienced burnout for the first time.
The definition of burnout is, “physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress”. I am sure that every business owner has experienced that at one point or another, especially if they are the one wearing all the hats. I was taking orders, baking orders, promoting my business on social media, shopping for supplies and doing everything else! While I enjoyed making all the decisions and not having to rely on anyone else for my business, not all of it was my strong suit and it was starting to get very draining.
So, who made me realize that I was feeling burned out? It was Kat (of course). One of the first things that a team member does upon joining Kaizen-Life is take the Clifton Strengths assessment. When I took it and learned my top five strengths, it completely made sense to why I felt burned out by my work!
My strengths are as follows: Competition, Command, Strategic, Deliberative, and Adaptability. Strengths coaches like to talk about how each Clifton Strength theme has both balconies and basements. When you are on the balcony, you are thriving in your strengths. In the basement, your strength is bringing you down. The characteristics of basement living meant constant comparison, never being good enough, and always wanting to be better than others (but in a very unhealthy way). After learning about the vulnerabilities of the competition theme, I realized that I was experiencing burnout because I was living in the basement. My competitive nature was driving me to the ground. My work was never good enough and I needed the gratification of being better than my competitors to feel successful. Let me tell you, that is NOT how to run a successful business.
It was such a wakeup call to see that I was experiencing burnout because of the pressure I put on myself to do it all on my own! Living in the competition basement, I wanted to prove that I could be a “girl boss” and do it all. I COULD, but that doesn’t mean that I was thriving. I started loathing orders and telling clients that I was booked (when I wasn’t) to avoid taking anymore.
There was a lot of change that needed to happen before I felt ready to work like that again.
After doing research for Kaizen-Life and consulting with clients, I realized that I’m NEVER going to work like that again. There’s a reason that we experience burnout when we own a business. Most of the time, that reason is that we are putting too much pressure on ourselves to do everything. Sometimes, there are valid points in the mix (like you can’t afford to hire help) and that makes sense. But one way that you can start to help yourself is to learn your personal strengths and see where YOU best fit in your business. It may come as a shock when you see your results, but it’s so gratifying to see that you bring something unique to the table for your brand. And, with that, there’s a reason that others can bring some relief to the mix: their strengths are the opposite of yours! Collaboration and honesty are the keys to avoiding burnout.
Once you learn that, you’ll never go back!
- Abigail Alano