We’re here to tell you, as a small business ourselves – it’s hard to do more with less people, and trying means everyone works a lot more hours. Trouble is, this leads to burnout, fatigue, poor physical and mental health, poor sleep, poor appetite, and suddenly getting ahead feels impossible.
The answer isn’t spreading everyone out so thin that nobody wants to do the work anymore, it’s knowing when to ask for help.
Our Tips For Knowing “When To Ask For Help”
Knowing is Half the Battle
Recognizing not feeling great can be difficult if there is no time left to consider oneself to begin with. When a person is doing too many tasks, it creates this paradox where it looks like more is being accomplished, but the attention given to any one of those tasks must be fleeting at best, because there are never enough hours in the day.
There are always signs which lead to burnout.
- Fatigue, where a person is constantly tired and has no energy but for no clearly apparent reason
- Tension (stress), where muscle groups remain tensed for such a long period that it begins to become a constant low ache that becomes the new ‘normal’ and eventually tolerated, but puts stress on the body which can cause irritability
- Lack of motivation, when there is no real drive to want to do any task and the energy put forth is lackluster at best
- Insouciance, or the general lack of care for anything happening at all
- Poor attention span, easily bored
- Poor attitude
- Poor sleep
- Sadness/despair from feeling like a failure for not being able to do it all
The Cascade Effect
Any person who has ever worked for a large company will recognize some or all of these in themselves or another they were familiar with at work. There is always someone at some stage of this, for a variety of reasons. (source) Most have to do with not being challenged enough, or overworked without surcease.
The trouble is, these things creep up over time, and it takes real introspection to discover if it’s happening at all, and if so – to what degree. Then comes how to handle it, once the realization occurs that yes, burnout is just around the corner.
Burnout is when people experience some of the worst points of their lives, because it nearly always forces change. It’s for this reason we’re writing this post, because it’s beneficial to know what to look out for, but even better – how to deal with all of it.
Working while near burnout, or at any stage of it, is hugely unproductive, even if it feels at the time that a lot is getting done. Closer analysis reveals the holes, or the lack of care, attention to detail, or focus which could have made something simply okay, into something incredible.
Worse though, is what it does to the body. The list above isn’t complete, but the largest of them are there including poor sleeping patterns, indigestion, and irritability. The body takes a beating from cortisol, the hormone secreted during times of stress – and the effects of cortisol on the body have long been studied, and are known to be harmful long term.
Burnout Can be Avoided
There are answers for small business owners, and tools which can help make everything much easier. It doesn’t have to be a struggle, there are plenty of small business owners who throw in the towel and think they must close their doors because ‘it’s just not working anymore’, but it’s because they tried to do it all themselves, or in-house to a large degree, when expansion was necessary to survival.
Expansion not Outsourcing
Outsourcing has gained a terrible reputation, and even the word carries with it a nascent feeling of disgust. It comes with good cause, because there was a time when businesses everywhere were shipping all kinds of their services once performed locally by local citizens, overseas to other countries – often with major language and time zone barriers. These barriers, when insurmountable could collapse the business it was meant to help. Outsourcing has undergone a great deal of changes due to the clear disregard for the care of the consumer, and has taken on a new word with a new meaning.
Expansion is the new outsourcing, because in a world where everyone is connected, everyone is on the same team. Contracting people to do work for the company that cannot be gotten to within regular working hours by existing staff just makes good sense. These people often work from home, or a small office depending on the business’ scope/need. The best part is, the quality which arose from the failures of times past.
These days, its entirely possible to find a person or people to join the team, who speak the same language, may share the same interests, or have other commonalities which would endear them to the company.
With Skype and other video chat services out there, the ability to video conference remote team members is not only possible, it’s happening in a lot of huge businesses already. Many companies already utilize some form of instant messaging service at work so their employees can share real-time data in a way that isn’t as formal as an email; after all, an instant message by nature, implies the response is just as ‘instant’.
Most people who work remotely realize there are higher standards now than ever before, because when everyone is connected, the competition gets fierce. This means that a company can, and should, thoroughly research every person they intend to hire to ensure that person matches the company’s values, and can deliver on the company’s promise to the clients.
AI – Artificial Intelligence, is everywhere now. It’s actually almost invasive, it so insidiously crept into everyone’s lives. There are watch bands with smart tech that tell a person everything from how they slept to how many steps they took and plenty more. The home versions will play music, jokes, games, answer questions, search the internet, purchase items online and more. This is to say nothing of the kind which are prevalent in business, including things like chatbots, virtual reality, lenses and filters.
AI is great, but sprinkled rather than doused. The trouble out there is that society seems doused in AI rather than allowing it to merely be assistive in nature, and helpful nearly as a last resort to the mind, or a trip outside.
The great kind of AI is the kind which helps a consumer from the moment they interact with it. The first example was a chatbot, which is the easiest form of AI to incorporate, and most companies use it for interactions with their clientele on their company website, or on their company’s social media profile.
Other types are virtual reality, where someone who is shopping for paint colours can take a photo of their room and instantly apply new paint colours to it, to preview how it will look in the home. Beauty products have something similar – many makeup brands use makeup filters in the colours a person has selected to ‘try on’ virtually, so the person can see how they’d look in the new colours. These harm nothing, and are a fun and interactive experience clients will enjoy sharing with others. Lenses and filters are used by apps mostly, and are great shareable content which is easy to place a company logo or branding onto.
AI – What Not to Do
The kind that isn’t great, yet still happens and is costing companies clients as they flee – is the inability to ever reach a human being by message, phone, email, or another form of contact. Companies without contact information are shady, and most people won’t do business with them after figuring out how impossible it is to reach them the first time.
Nearly as bad, is having a gated phone system where one exists, where a person must vault through phone prompts for 20 minutes prior to even having the option to speak to a person. Many don’t even have that option, and will hang up on the caller if they don’t accept the automated options. Having the voice recognition type of gated phone prompter isn’t any more helpful, it’s maddening to the callers to be misunderstood prior to getting any help, and it’s nearly worse than the fully automated numeric-only system.
Worst yet – is keeping the outsourcing as it’s been since the 1980s and sending it to the same people who couldn’t have done it the first time, but are paid less in their currency for the work, so the company at the top doesn’t care and keeps it there anyway. Small wonder people leave these companies. It leaves a bad taste behind.
All in One Place
Coworkers need not all be in the same building to have the same goal and to benefit the same way. “It takes money to make money” everyone’s heard that, but the statement holds for all time because it’s how it works.
A small investment in a remote or contracted employee (or few) could be all the difference it takes for the company to go from small business, to big business.
All those giants out there didn’t start with the ability to do it all in house, and to try is madness!
The only way to get ahead and stay there, is to do whatever is possible solo, and hire out the rest. Just be circumspect about who gets hired, and welcome a newer, larger team!