Indie Business Burnout (And How to Avoid Guilt)

Indie Biz Advice

All around me at the moment, indie business owners are dropping like flies. My Facebook feed is awash with people who are anxious about disappointing their customers, so much so that they have pushed themselves to the point of exhaustion, illness and burnout. It's part and parcel of being a one or two person operation that you don't really get any sick days, and often as a small business owner you need to push on through the kinds of illnesses and situations that would make anyone else take a day off. But when it's just you, that's not always possible.

I took a weekend off to go to a magical board games retreat in Malvern this weekend just gone, and I still ended up answering customer emails and sorting inventory levels while away, using my phone. I didn't entirely switch off although I was mostly not thinking about work and that in itself was fab. Eating copious amounts of biscuits and brownies, drinking tea (and a bit of bubbly) and playing billions of board games in a big fancy house for two days was heaven. One person suggested I set up an out of office reply when I mentioned I was still fielding work emails, to which I smiled politely but inwardly scoffed. If I don't answer emails, I potentially miss sales and heck, we need to eat. But then I realised he was right, even if I didn't want to hear it. It IS good to take time out sometimes, recharging only makes us happier, more effective and generally nicer to be around. And that includes being around ourselves, in our own heads.

Please don't apologise to your customers too much if you need to step away from your business briefly to get well when you are ill, to deal with family stuff or cope with the random things life is throwing at you.
I have seen a few small creative businesses unable to be realistic with themselves and their customers about processing times because their product suddenly got super popular, and they went under and had to close completely which is so sad. It is REALLY hard to juggle the multiple demands of running a small biz, but if you take regular scheduled time out to attend to what needs doing (even when that is simply drinking lemsip and moaning occasionally, like the scene in When Harry Met Sally when Harry gets ill... my fave bit by the way) then that is totally fine. Here I am right now giving you permission to close for as long as you need to get your shit sorted. Wonderful, loyal customers and followers will appreciate your honesty and will still be there when you get back. Even if you lose a few sales or follows, it doesn't matter - it's not worth running yourself into the ground trying to keep up.

Now, go and have a cuppa... :)


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