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038 - How to prevent burnout (and what to do if you're already there)

Tackling burnout when you run a vegan business. If you drive a car, do you just keep driving until you completely run out of fuel leaving you stranded at the side of the road, unable to continue your journey? Of course not, so why do we treat ourselves this way?

It’s easy to get stuck in the trap of working longer and longer hours until you get to the point where you feel that you can’t keep going, but you can’t afford to take time off to recharge either. The more burnt-out you become the less productive you are, making the problem even worse.  So what changes can you make in your business to get out of this? How can you reduce the amount of work you actually have to do without your workload suffering? And how can you create the time and space you need to avoid actually hitting burnout in the first place?

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Full episode transcript

Hello and welcome to episode thirty-eight of The Vegan Business Tribe Podcast with myself David Pannell, co-founder of Vegan Business Tribe.  And if you have a vegan business, or are thinking of starting one, then Vegan Business Tribe is here to support and inspire you not just to build a vegan business, but to build a SUCCESSFUL vegan business.

And yes, we do that by putting out this podcast every week but we’re supported by hundreds of Vegan Business Tribe members in our absolutely amazing community of vegan business owners and professionals, over on the website at veganbusinesstribe.com – and if you want to support the work we’re doing, not only in championing vegan business but in helping skill-up vegan businesses worldwide also, then you too can become a member of Vegan Busines Tribe for just £12.99 a month. Now, THAT’s the equivalent of buying just a single cup of coffee a week from your local coffee shop – and in return, you’re not just helping us to grow our mission but you also get access to our full community, you get to come along to all our online networking meet-ups to meet other vegan business owners, you get access to our Community Hub on Slack to talk with the other members, you get access to all our weekly content and videos on the website, you can get a 1-2-1 with myself and Lisa to talk about your vegan business (or even just your business idea) and finally, as if all that wasn’t enough for just £12.99 a month – you also get access to our members-only courses and collections, which includes content like our full 24-module marketing course for how to promote a vegan business and our new mini-series on how to scale up a vegan business – with interviews with Fungtn alcohol-free beer, Better Nature Tempeh and Miami Burger, about how they scaled up to take their vegan businesses nation-wide.  Just go take a look at www.veganbusinesstribe.com and sign-up to join us on our mission and to help us to keep putting out this podcast, creating all our content and doing everything we can to help and link-up vegan businesses around the globe.

And because we get to talk to so many amazing vegan businesses, we also know the problems that vegan businesses face.  And one huge problem is hitting burnout.  Now, we all face this from time to time – we feel we’re on that constant grind, that work is always pilling up, the inbox is never-ending and we’re just drowning trying to keep up with it all.  And we would love to just take some time away, but we can’t.  There’s simply too much to do, and if we were to take today off that just means there would be twice as much to do tomorrow. So we just keep going.  We don’t take the time to recharge and recuperate – and what happens?  We hit burnout.  We get up one day and just can’t face it anymore.  Work no longer becomes the thing we used to get excited by, our productivity drops to near zero and our mental health plummets.

But let me put this example to you.  If you drive, when do you fill your car up with petrol or plug it in to charge?  Do you just keep driving until your car completely runs out of fuel and it comes to a spluttering halt at the side of the road – leaving you completely stuck and unable to continue your journey?  Or do you fill up when you notice the fuel gauge is starting to get low, or at the very least when the fuel warning light begins to flash?  If we ran our vehicles like we run ourselves, then we’d always be sat waiting for the pick-up truck at the side of the road.  And in a way, that is the reality of what does actually happen.

It’s interesting the answers I get when I ask someone ‘what’s the most important thing in your business?’. Some people will say the product they offer.  Other people say their customers – and both are really good answers, but what’s the one thing that would bring your business to a crashing halt if it wasn’t there?  That’s you.  The most important thing in any business are the people in it.  Businesses are not made from bricks and motor and websites and emails, they are made from people.  And that will probably be the case for a long time to come yet.

Last month, the female-first internet dating app Bumble gave all their employees a paid week off to fight what they called ‘collective burnout’.  This wasn’t optional, all 750 staff were instructed to switch off their computers, go home and not think about work for a week.  And because everyone took the break at the same time, there was no pressure to check emails from colleagues or to keep checking their phones.  And this wasn’t the first company to do that to try and insist that their employees took time off to unplug from work. Earlier in the year, LinkedIn gave its 16 thousand full-time employees a similar, fully-paid week off to encourage them to recharge.  Now, you are going to say: that’s OK for these big companies to do things like that, but I’m a small business with a small team – or maybe my business is even just me!  I can’t just take a week off.  Well, I would say back to you: if someone like LinkedIn can give all their staff a break for a week (with how much it will have cost them to do that in terms of lost customers, disruption to support, revenue and pay) are you really telling me that your company, which I am assuming isn’t the size of LinkedIn or Bumble or serves as many people, can’t put things on hold for a few days to allow you to recharge?  In fact, if you are a small business, then you’re probably on first name terms with most of your customers – so they will be far more supportive and it will be far easier to organise.

Successful companies know that to keep their employees productive, they need to make sure those employees keep motivated and don’t burn out.  And depending on the ethics of that company, they have one of two ways of doing that: they either look after their employees, make sure they can take downtime, they install ping-pong tables, gyms and even bars and relaxation rooms on company premises; or they have a revolving door employment policy – where once one employee burns out they simply just hire another to take their place.  You could argue that both work!  And many company boards will argue that the second option is cheaper than the first, but they are always proven wrong.  Because the more run-down that someone gets, the less productive they become.  And the less productive they are, the more it costs a company to produce the same amount of work.

I’ve had roles where I routinely worked 80 hour weeks.  On occasion, I had periods of my life where I’ve found myself working 100 hour weeks.  It’s not pretty, and you get into a vicious circle of diminishing returns.  The work starts piling up so you work more hours, and as you work more hours you become less productive meaning you achieve less per hour you work.  Meaning you have to work even more hours to get through the same amount of work, and before you know it you’re setting an alarm for quarter to five in the morning and then not getting back to bed again until gone midnight the next day.  And – it does become a trap.  You know you need time off, you’re feeling the burnout coming, but you can’t take time off because there’s too much work to do.  Or taking time off actually just makes your situation worse not better, because you know work will pile up whilst you are away, that you will come back to an overflowing inbox – so it’s better just to keep working through.

Does any of that sound familiar?  Well, since you’re listening to a podcast on how to avoid burnout I’m guessing you’ve been there – or perhaps you’re right in the middle of it as we speak.  So, how do we get you out of this, how do you get past it and how do you avoid getting to burnout in the first place.

Well, and you’re probably going to scoff when I say this, but it is actually a choice.  Don’t shout at me here, but let me explain as someone who’s been through it.  Stress happens when you think you are not in control, when you are living your life responding to other people’s needs and agendas instead of your own.  Many people leave their day jobs and start up a business to escape the 9 to 5, when in reality it’s far too easy to escape the 9 to 5 for the 24/7 when you have your own business. All of a sudden you become the IT manager, the salesperson, the head of marketing, the production manager alongside still being a parent, a partner and everything else that takes up your time.

But you ARE more in control than you think, a lot of the pressure we put ourselves under is an illusion.  Let me put this question to you: could you take next Friday off?  Just turn off your phone for 6 hours, and go for a long walk in the woods?  If your answer is “yeah – of course I could” then great and I’ll see you on the next episode!  But if you’re thinking “gosh, I WISH I could but I could never book a day off because I’ve got too much work to do” then let me put this second question to you: what if you had a client session booked in on Friday?  Or what if you were going to meet a potential investor?  Would you find that your week magically accommodated it? Would you find that, somehow, miraculously, the world wouldn’t stop turning just because you were unavailable and doing something else for a day that wasn’t sat at your desk answering emails?  You would make it work just fine if it was a work or business commitment that you had on Friday wouldn’t you?

So, if you’re feeling you need to take time off to re-charge, or to do something that isn’t work for your customers but will move your business forward, then what is ACTUALLY stopping you from creating that space and taking that time off?  Because it’s not that you don’t actually have the time – as we’ve just proven, if you had a client meeting you would make time for it wouldn’t you?  So is it something else?  Is it guilt?  Bumble didn’t just offer their workforce a paid week off, they insisted that everyone took it.  Because the problem is not finding the time to take a step away to recharge, the problem is giving ourselves permission to.

You have to remember that your inbox isn’t a video game that you can complete.  If you spend an hour in your inbox answering emails, by the end of that hour you’ll have already started getting replies back just filling up your inbox again.  And you might say, well if I take time out then my business simply can’t run, it grinds to a halt.  And if that IS the case – then it is all the more important that you take time out to recharge – because if it’s the case that your business can’t run without you in the middle of it, then if you work yourself to the point that you can’t work any more then that’s the end of your business.  It’s as simple as that.  You cannot keep doing the amazing thing that your business does if you have set it up in a way that is not sustainable.  And if you cannot make the space to be able to take a step back and make the changes you need to make so that the business does not put you in that position, then you are never going to improve things – so this should become the number one priority in your business.  Forget about guilt, avoiding burnout is business-critical.

And if guilt is playing a large part in your burnout – that feeling that you can’t let others down, that you can’t push back that deadline, that you can’t leave an email until after the weekend to reply, that you can’t shut up shop for a day – then that’s really easy to fix.  Because your customers, your family and your employees want you to be on top of your game, and they will 100% empathise with you about hitting burnout and want to make sure you don’t.  Asking a customer if a deadline can be pushed back a week – before you actually get to the deadline – won’t be seen as a sign of poor service.  It will be seen as someone keeping on top of their production schedule and highlighting potential problems before they get to them.  And usually, customers will be really accommodating if you have a good relationship with them.  Replying to an email after a few days without actually starting the email with an apology for taking time to reply, is actually quite liberating.  When you start an email by apologising how long you’ve taken to reply, you are just normalising the fact that they should expect to hear back from you the second they send you a message.  Yes, some emails need jumping on, but most email messages are not business-critical and don’t need a reply the same day they come in. Learn to tell and accept the difference.

So, we know – and to be honest, YOU know this already deep down – that getting to the point where you are hitting burnout is partly down to guilt.  You’ve had lots of opportunities to make an intervention before you got to that point but you haven’t.  You want to always say yes to customers and so you agree to deadlines that don’t need to be as tight, and agree to do work for less than they are willing to actually pay.  Days that you block out in the diary for yourself get overwritten with client meetings and deadlines that are – sometimes-  just arbitrary.  I remember once staying up until three in the morning, nearly killing myself to complete a project for a client’s deadline, only to send it off to them and get an auto-responder saying that they were on holiday for the next week and a half.  I think I just stared at my computer screen for a full three minutes.

So the first thing we need to do is seriously start reducing that guilt.  If you book out time in your calendar for yourself – and you should, either to take time out or to work on your business – then treat that time as if it’s a client meeting that you have booked in.  If you have a customer on the phone asking when you are free, don’t look guiltily at that afternoon you have booked off, simply tell them you are full that week and give them dates for the next.  They’re not going to secretly spot you in the local coffee shop and jump out asking why you said you didn’t have any spare time this week.  Booking time out for yourself and your business IS really important.  Not just for recharging, but for keeping perspective on where the business is at.  When you are planning out how you are going to spend your time, you start by planning-in the most important things first right?  And if YOU are the most important thing in your business, then you need to plan that time in FIRST before everything else.  Take a 45-minute walk every morning before you sit down at your desk if that’s what you find gets your head in the right place to take on your day’s challenges.  Start your day with a 25-minute meditation session, and if you find you don’t have time to do a 25-minute meditation, then do a 45-minute one every day until you do!  And when Lisa and I tell people to do this, the first thing they say is “but I like to get to my desk early to get ahead of the curve with all the emails and get things struck off my to-do list before the day starts” – but you do realise, your to-do list is never completed don’t you? Once you clear it, you just fill it up again.  And you will have a better chance at tackling what’s on that list if you have a clear head and a bit of motivation than approaching it with a sense of stress or maybe even dread?  In fact, if you focus on creating space you will find that half the things on your to-do list never actually get put on there – because YOU start leading the narrative, not other people.  You get in the position where you get other people working to YOUR agenda, instead of spending all your time working to theirs.

What do I mean by that, because it sounds really good doesn’t it?  One of those things that a rock-star business coach would say, well let me give you an example. For a long time, Lisa and I were led by our online calendars. Meetings with clients and customers would be peppered throughout the week.  I would look at my diary and think: can I finish this project today?  And I would say, well I’ve got a fairly clear day I but we’ve got that meeting at 10.00am, then I’ve got to make that phone call at 1.00pm – and we said we’d be online around 3.00pm in case that client in the states says they want to talk today.  And even though I only had two hours of engagements in a day of 7 hours – I might have well written that day off for doing any work because it was just too broken up.  So now, if you want a meeting with myself and Lisa – that’s great, we do it on Zoom, we do it on a Wednesday, and it’ll be for 30 minutes – here’s the link to book it in.  And if there are no time slots that suit you for a couple of weeks?  Cool, that’s fine because next month is currently really clear to get booked in before they all go.

And what that means is that Wednesdays we do nothing but have back-to-back meetings, but because they are online on Zoom and because they are broken into pre-set blocks we can fit up to 10 meetings into one day.  And that might sound draining, but because most of those sessions are with Vegan Business Tribe Members we’re absolutely BUZZING by the end of the day after all that vegan goodness.  We even take selfies with the people we’re meeting with and upload them to our selfie wall on the website.  But it also means that the rest of the week, in its entirety, is meeting free.  Nothing breaking up our days, we can really concentrate on working on what we want to work on and can be really productive.  We’re working to our agenda, not other people’s and the result is we actually deliver a far better service because of it.

And you can apply this concept to lots of areas in your business.  Take this podcast, I have a day blocked out every week in the diary where I write it, record it, edit it, upload it and distribute it.  Nothing else gets booked in on that day, you can’t get hold of me on podcast day and I don’t go to bed until it’s all done.  This podcast is really important for increasing the visibility of the work we’re doing, for championing the vegan business sector and – for attracting more people to come and be part of our community at Vegan Business Tribe.  So it’s block-booked in the diary until the end of time.

And there are a lot of other things in your business that you can reevaluate to reduce the stress they put you under. Because, stress comes from feeling that everything is building up and you can’t control it.  Like I said earlier: you feel can’t take time off to recharge because that just makes your situation worse.  There will just be MORE emails to answer, more jobs to do when you get back.  So, part of managing burnout is reducing that stress by reducing the amount of work you do every day.  Now, this is actually going to sound really counter-productive, and again I can feel you screaming at me that you can’t do less work – but I’m not talking about actually working less hours, I’m talking about being more efficient with the hours you work.  What do Sir Richard Branson, Mahatma Gandhi, Elon Musk, Malcolm X, and many other people who have achieved great things have in common?  They all have 24 hours in their day.  Just like you.  But, unlike you, they took control of how they used those 24 hours.  Lisa and I are really fortunate because we’ve got each other to help with this, and it can be hard to do this on your own so you might want to rope someone else in your business, or even a family member, to help.  Let me give you a little bit of background: when Lisa and I first started working together, I had a company with, maybe 10 employees, and the first thing Lisa did when she joined us was to rip up all our procedures and ways of working.  She despaired that we still had filing cabinets and passed folders across the desk to each other to track a job through production, but it’s how we’d done things for the last 12 years.  She went through how everyone was spending their time to find the things we were all doing that just ate up our hours: Lisa went through how we ran our admin, how we raised invoices, how we chased payments.  She put a ticketing system in place for clients instead of us using our own inbox, she replaced our spreadsheets with business productivity apps and within a few weeks had, literally, halved the amount of time we all spent on admin.  And what I learned was that however YOU run the admin of your company, I guarantee there are better way to do it.  And probably by using an app that will cost you £10 a month.

Be ruthless in how you spend your time.  If something is regularly eating into your time, see if you can get someone to go through it with you to give you an external view of how you are managing a task.  For example, email and keeping on top of messages is a huge time-drain for so many businesses.  The inbox is always sat there and it’s always growing, and if this is a problem for you then put the emotional dread you get from your inbox to one side, and instead approach it as a problem that you need to find a solution for.  If you had a pipe in your bathroom where water was constantly flowing out, would you just become resigned to the fact that you have to get up every morning with a bucket and bail out the bathroom for the rest of your life – or would you do something to fix the pipe?  Your inbox is the same. If spending too long on email, or your messages on Instagram or LinkedIn, is a problem for you right now – then clear your head, take the rose by the thorns and work out how you’re going to fix that.

When you start to look at your inbox objectively, a lot of the emails you have coming in can be dealt with by a frequently asked questions, or an FAQ, section on your website.  Whenever you get a question by email that hasn’t been asked before, then add a new response to your FAQ section.  Then also write a copy and paste email response to that question and save it in a word file or on Evernote or whatever notes system you use, so you don;t have to re-type it next time you are asked.  Because I guarantee you, if you are personally typing out responses to every email you get, or every LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook message – then that is one of your big problems.  Lisa, again being the really organised one out of the two of us, has an entire copy and paste directory for responding to messages.  No matter if we’re out so she’s using her phone, or sitting at her desk, she can clear a page full of messages in minutes by copy and pasting from responses she’s already given in the past.  And these aren’t soulless, impersonal responses, she always writes a quick personal message to open the email, or she tailors part of the messages to be relevant to how the question was asked – but the vast majority of the reply will be a copy and paste and usually link to specific articles or a page on our website with more information.  The same with LinkedIn messages, the same with Instagram.

And once you really decide that you are going to fight-back, that you are going to take these issues on and be ruthless with how you spend your time, then you can do this with any task in your business that you do regularly.  Figure out the things you are doing on a regular basis that eat your time, all those manual processes, all those backwards and forwards conversations, and know that if YOU are having to spend time on them, then other people will be also.  And THAT means that someone will have likely have created a really good solution for it.  Find out how you can automate or semi-automate these tasks, or make them much more time-efficient.  Create templates, research software and online solutions you can use.  Our Wednesday meeting days fill up on their own, and I don’t actually know who we’re speaking to until I go to my calendar, because the email interaction with the person, the calendar booking system, the setting up of the Zoom meeting, sending out the link and then sending out reminders in the run-up to the meeting – all these things are automated.  And it costs us maybe £30 a month in subscriptions to automate them.  It’s like we have a virtual assistant working for us that we never actually remember ever hiring, setting up all our meetings for us and making sure the people turn up to them.

And while we’re on that note, then why not get a virtual assistant to help you out?  If items piling up is the thing causing you stress and is costing you time, then can you delegate them to someone else so you can actually use your time to earn you money?  And before you say: no, an assistant wouldn’t be able to answer these emails or do these tasks – then if that is the case that’s all the more reason you should consider taking one on.  Because the act of taking someone on to do the tasks that, at the moment, only you can do will force you to approach these messages or tasks in a different way.  You will be forced to sit down and write the copy and paste answers to the messages for the assistant to use, it will force you to set up a new web page full or resources and answers that your assistant can direct people to, and if you get a really good virtual assistant they will actually help you automate a great many of these tasks, or lead you through this process of training someone else and coming up with all the information to be able to do that.  It will be a learning curve, you will have to go through some pain points, and it might give you MORE work in the very short term, but it’ll be worth it because then you can concentrate just on the things that actually make you money, meaning you will then be able to afford to create more space within your business.

And this brings us to the final, and perhaps the most important part of avoiding burnout, because actually freeing up some time by automating and delegating, by getting people onto your agenda instead of always working on their’s – all this is only half of the solution.  The second part is what you DO with that space you have created.  And this is important, it’s really important.  Because let me put this to you: how relaxed and recharged do you feel after binging an entire two seasons of a show on Netflix in a single day?  You’ve been sitting in the dark all day just watching episode after episode.  If you’re anything like me, not really.  Because that isn’t recharging, that is hiding.  Compare that with a day spent out in nature, or going for a day out with your family, or doing something that you really love but never get the chance to do anymore – or even spent sat in your favourite vegan cafe with your notebook planning the future. Once you have freed up time, do something really worthwhile with that time that is going to boost your mood, that lifts you up and takes you out of your usual surroundings.  If your business relied on a single machine, you would make sure you had that machine regularly serviced and looked after.  If your business relied on a single vehicle always being in good working order, you wouldn’t run that vehicle into the ground, leave it to rust and never check the oil.  And that’s why YOU need to build self-care into your routine.  It has to become a habit, and the success of your business might rely on it.

Maybe you can also use that time to do something to remind you why you set up a vegan business in the first place.  Can you get involved with some campaigning?  Can you spend some time with the animals that you are dedicated to helping and saving?  Some animal sanctuaries also have accommodation and welcome people staying with them to help out with looking after the animals while you are there. Doing things like this will really help you put things in perspective, it helps beat down those things you are stressed about back to their normal proportions.  So an email doesn’t get responded to for a couple of days, how does that compare in importance to the life of these rescued pigs that you are taking time out to help feed?  A walk in the woods or a paddle in a stream soon brings back what is actually really important and valuable in life.

You should also use this new time to help move you forward. As we’ve said, the stress that leads to burnout comes about because you feel trapped.  You are working to everyone else’s agendas and not moving your own forwards.  Every week, Lisa and I have Friday afternoon blocked out in our diary and we use it to head over to our own local vegan cafe, the Peppercorn in Huddersfield.  We go for a late lunch and to talk about Vegan Business Tribe, to plan for the future, and sometimes just to catch up with each other.  Which sounds weird, because Lisa and I pretty much spend every waking and sleeping hour together – but setting that time aside to take stock each week makes sure that we’re not stressing each other out by having work conversations when we’re getting ready for bed and that we’re actually putting time aside to move us forward.

And you have to keep moving yourself forward.  There’s a great quote that classic motivational business speaker Zig Ziglar used to say: “When there is hope in the future, there is power in the present”.  And it remains true today.  If you feel you are moving forwards, if you can see that all the stress and work you are going through now is actually moving you closer to where you want to be then it’s not quite as stressful, you endure it better. IF you are working until late at night, but that work is actually ACHIEVING something for you, then all of a sudden it doesn’t feel quite as much like work.  If it’s your goal to grow a business, then the time where you work ON your business instead of IN your business should be the time that gets booked into the diary first. Use that time to make a plan, use it to do the vegan marketing course on the Vegan Business Tribe website, use it to book on some seminars, use it to research how to automate a process.  Use it to set some goals and come up with the steps to actually make those goals happen – and again, just to give Lisa’s monthly Make It Happen workshop a plug as a place to spend an hour working on your goals with a group of your fellow vegan business owners.

Because it is actually your duty to fight against hitting burnout.  No matter how strong you are, there’s no award for who managed to go the longest before burning out.  It’s your duty to not just suffer it, but do something about it.  You are not a pot plant.  You haven’t just been put into a dark corner and have no way to move yourself out of it.  If you set up your vegan businesses as a way to help the vegan cause, then if you hit burnout you can’t keep doing the amazing work you do.  You can’t help us move towards this vegan world that we are all working towards.  If you are hitting burnout then you have to decide that you are going to take this problem on and do something to make your situation better.  If you feel you are facing fight or flight, choose fight.

OK, so let’s go back over what we’ve just talked about and pick out the key points as a round-up of how to prevent burnout when you’re running a vegan business:

  1. Would you keep driving a car until it completely runs out of fuel and it comes to a spluttering halt, or do you fill-up or recharge it when you notice the fuel gauge is starting to get low?  If we ran our vehicles like we run ourselves, then we’d always be sat waiting for the pick-up truck at the side of the road.
  2. Successful companies know that the more productive their staff, the less they have to pay in the long-term.  That’s why we are seeing high-profile businesses giving their entire workforce a paid week off to recharge.  And you can learn a lot from how important productivity is to a business from that. Because the less productive you are, the more it costs your company to produce the same amount of work.
  3. A lot of the pressure we put ourselves under is an illusion, you ARE in more control than you think but feel guilty about prioritising time for yourself.  The problem with burnout is not usually with having the time, it’s about combatting the guilt and giving yourself permission to prioritise that time for yourself.
  4. Avoiding burnout is business-critical, so put that guilt to one side.  Block out the time for yourself first.  Take a 45-minute walk every morning to clear your head before you sit down at your desk, and have that time blocked out in your calendar as if it was a daily client meeting. Meditate for 25 minutes every morning before you start work – and if you say you don’t have time for a 25-minute meditation, then do a 45-minute meditation every day until you do!
  5. YOU need to start leading the narrative, not other people.  You need to get other people working to YOUR agenda instead of spending all your time working to theirs.  Take control of your time and your priorities, because if you do, you will actually find that you provide a far more valuable service to your customers also.
  6. Work through your business and be ruthless with how you spend your time.  Look to half the amount of admin you have to do, and reduce the time it takes to respond to emails and messages with templates, FAQs and copy and paste responses.  If you have something in your business eating your time, then I guarantee other people will have had the same problem and come up with a great solution that might cost you a £10 a month subscription and be entirely worth it.
  7. Deligating to other people (and that deligation might be to a virtual assistant) may give you more work in the very short term but will force you to write those templates, to change how you communicate so someone else can take it on, or even how you deliver your service in a more efficient way.  And if you want to find some vegan virtual assistants, then come join us at Vegan Business Tribe where we have a couple as members!
  8. The success of your business relies on your self-care so it needs to become a habit, it needs to be regular and it needs to be worked into your business schedule. If your business relied on a single machine, you would make sure you had that machine regularly serviced and looked after, wouldn’t you?  It’s the same with yourself.
  9. It’s also important to keep connected with why you have a vegan business in the first place. Take time out to reconnect with the cause, get involved with campaigning or go help out at your local shelter to put things back into perspective.

And that’s it. So, I know the topic of burnout can be hard to talk through.  Sometimes things happen in our lives, and I mean REALLY big things that we never invited in, but we always have more control than we think.  And the reason I can talk about all this so optimistically is I have been through it myself.  Those 80 to 100 work weeks I dropped in as a passing comment, I’ve lived and worked through those.  And they are not sustainable.  You might think they are when you’re in the middle of them, you will see yourself as superhuman, but at some point you find out there was actually no reason to put yourself through that.  You will realise that you could have just charged more and people would have paid it because you delivered such good value, you could have set more realistic deadlines with your customers and they would have been fine with that, you could have just gone out and found a different way to work that didn’t rely on you pretending to be superhuman, or that you could have just gone out and asked others for help and support and it would have gladly been there.

And if you do need that help and support, then, seriously, do come and get involved with the community at Vegan Business Tribe.  We’ve had countless members who have come to us in a place where they regularly faced burnout, and just with some support and external clarity, they have found they had more power and control than they ever realised to change their position for the better.  Sometimes in a really short period of time.  So, if this is you – then do come join us and I guarantee it will be the best £12.99 a month you have ever spent – far better for both you and your business than buying that TV box set to try and hide away from your issues with!

And one last point before we finish, in fact it’s one last favour.  If you have found this episode useful, if you think that actually some of this will make a difference to you, then I would love if you can do two things for me.  The first is can you subscribe to this podcast, and if your platform allows you – so if you’re listening on iTunes especially – can you also leave us a 5-star review.  Because this really helps us start to get noticed by the algorithms and to get the platforms to start recommending us to more people.

And second, if you can share this episode then I will be forever in your debt.  So if you belong to a vegan business group on Facebook or LinkedIn, or your own secret WhatsApp group, and you think other people will be helped by this podcast – then please do help us share the message.  Because the more vegan businesses we can help, the quicker we are all going to get to a vegan world.  Because Lisa and I, we don’t think that a ‘vegan’ business should be the one with a label.  It should be the ones that are not vegan that have to come with a health warning.

So, thank you for your time, I always appreciate you giving up your time to listen, it really means a lot to us, and I will see you on the next one!

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