Beat burnout: Coach helps entrepreneurs take care of business — and themselves.

Nikole Stanfield operates Intuition Coaching and helps entrepreneurs to identify and resolve problems associated with burnout. In taking care of business, entrepreneurs must also take care of themselves, Stanfield says. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)
Nikole Stanfield operates Intuition Coaching and helps entrepreneurs to identify and resolve problems associated with burnout. In taking care of business, entrepreneurs must also take care of themselves, Stanfield says. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Nikole Stanfield was not only tired, but also tired of feeling tired.

Stanfield took a week off from her digital marketing business in Western Colorado, thinking she could regain some of her energy and motivation. That didn’t help, either.  “At the end of the week, I was more tired than at the beginning,” she says.

Stanfield says she soon realized she suffered from burnout and needed a different approach to help her and her business.

Working with her personal coach, Stanfield says she learned how to set boundaries for herself and her clients, trade destructive habits for nurturing ones and ultimately take better care of herself. In the process, Stanfield says she also discovered she wanted to help other entrepreneurs beat burnout and prosper in their ventures. “This is exciting, and it gives me energy.”

Stanfield trained to become a personal coach and launched a second business in Intuition Coaching. She works with clients individually and in small groups.

She also shares her experiences in presentations and will lead a series of three free presentations at the Business Incubator Center in Grand Junction on beating burnout, making decisions and establishing a self-care routine. The presentations are set for noon to 1:30 p.m. Nov. 30, Jan. 11 and Feb. 1.

The point, Stanfield says, is running a business doesn’t have to be an exhausting experience. “It doesn’t have to look this way. It can look different.”

Burnout differs from physical and mental fatigue, Stanfield says, in that burnout affects not only energy levels, but also motivation and creativity. Entrepreneurs suffering from burnout struggle to find solutions to problems and question whether or not they’re making a difference. Moreover, they don’t want to engage with clients or customers.

Unless entrepreneurs beat burnout, they could decide to walk away from their ventures, she says.

Burnout affects businesses by reducing productivity and the quality of customer service, she says.

The problem, Stanfield says, is the freedom entrepreneurism offers people to run their own businesses and be their own bosses can also lead to burnout. There’s often no help or support available, and entrepreneurs tend to be their own worst bosses.

A vicious cycle also can develop, Stanfield says. Even as entrepreneurs work harder and harder and devote more and more of their time to their ventures with the expectation they’ll make more money and gain more freedom, they could discover they actually have less time and energy for family, relationships and the pursuits they enjoy.

Entrepreneurs often demand too much of themselves, more than they’d demand of an employee, Stanfield says. “There’s nobody to tell you when you’ve done enough.”

Consequently, entrepreneurs work through lunches, weekends and even holidays, she says. They come in early and stay late. And when they take a break, they often feel guilty for doing so.

Coaching can help entrepreneurs change the way they work and beat burnout, she says.

Stanfield says she meets with clients individually and in small groups, usually over the telephone or through video conferences. Her role, she says, is to listen carefully to what her clients tell her, ask questions and help them discover what’s going on. Then it’s a matter of discussing ways to address problems.

It’s essential, she says, for entrepreneurs to not only take care of business, but also take care of themselves.

“One of the most important things you can do is to take a lunch break.”

It’s important, too, she says, for entrepreneurs to maintain realistic expectations for what they need to accomplish, know when enough is enough and stop at the end of a day.

Entrepreneurs who take time for themselves often discover they’re more productive, not less. “When I took down time, I did better in my business,” she says.

Beating burnout also depends on improving communications with customers to set boundaries and manage their expectations, Stanfield says. It’s OK, for example, to tell them you won’t answer emails after hours or on weekends, but will respond in a timely manner at work.

While it’s tempting to take on every new client because of the additional business and revenue they generate, some clients don’t constitute a good fit, she says.

Stanfield also coaches clients struggling to beat burnout to set aside 5 to 10 minutes during the day to meditate — to relax, take a breath and sit calmly. The practice can help entrepreneurs shift from reacting to problems to reflecting on them and dealing with difficulties without anger or other emotions.

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