Written by: Tarah Dove, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
As an entrepreneur, you likely started your business because you wanted the freedom to do things your way. Like most business owners, you have a drive for success but also long for freedom and fulfillment. The first two or three years of business are fun and exciting vision planning, dreaming, and paving your way to what success looks like.
You understand what it takes to run a successful, profitable business. However, you may not have been prepared for the challenges of being CEO, human resources, marketing, and sales and juggling your life and family responsibilities on top of it all.
We get it. Being female business owners ourselves, we understand there are many challenges, some that our male counterparts do not encounter. Surprisingly, we find that female entrepreneurs are still trying to conduct business the same way men do business. Therefore, you may feel burnt out and at your breaking point.
Instead of your business supporting your life, your life revolves around your business. You may not take physical work home, but you take it home emotionally and mentally. What was supposed to create freedom and fulfillment is starting to suck the joy out of you and make you question if it is all worth it.
Here are the top 5 reasons female entrepreneurs hit a breaking point and question if it is all worth it.
#1 Believing success must equal sacrifice
As a business owner, there is always some level of sacrifice, but that doesn’t mean you have to surrender your joy, time, health, or fulfillment to create success. We often find that when female entrepreneurs are at their breaking point, it is because they are sacrificing their own needs and desires striving for success. They try to keep up with the way men do things and get stuck in the checkboxes of making sure employees are happy, key performance indicators are being met quarterly, customers are satisfied, bills are being paid, family is taken care of…the list goes on.
They think that taking time for themselves means sacrificing the business or their family when the exact opposite is true. They think once they get the success they desire, then they can take care of themselves, go on vacation, leave work at work, etc. It is simply not true.
As natural servant leaders, women are more likely to sacrifice their own mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual needs to ensure others are happy, which leads to a lack of boundaries.
Having this mindset is why most business owners experience burnout at some point in their entrepreneurial journey. Your business should be supporting your life right from the beginning, not taking away from it.
#2 Keeping business and life as separate entities
Keeping business and life as separate entities is the second reason we see female business owners hit their breaking point. One of our clients summed it up well, “I have a business coach and I have a therapist, but I need someone who can help me merge the gap between business and life.”
Women are naturally servant leaders and therefore are more likely to sacrifice their own happiness for the sake of others. Women are not only the CEOs at work but usually at home as well. Female business owners typically take on more home and family responsibilities than men. They arrange kids' activities, family vacations, meals, house chores, etc. Men typically do one or the other (i.e., run the business or manage the house).
Business coaches teach strategy and tactics for growing the business but do not address how it fits with life and fulfillment. Life coaches give strategies and tactics to help improve overall life and fulfillment but do not know how to make that fit with business goals. Therapists help with baggage and life challenges but are not able to give tools for business. Human Resources agencies can help with employees but are not able to help with any of the above.
#3 Using old-school business methods created by men for men
Men tend to be more logical, whereas women are more emotional. Where men can compartmentalize easier and leave work at work, women take it with them. Men are more likely to take physical work home, whereas women take it home emotionally, mentally, and physically in their bodies. Women are more likely to take on the emotions of their employees, spouse, kids, etc., leaving them feeling drained and unable to take care of themselves well.
The physiological makeup of women is very different from men, which affects everything when it comes to running a business. Where men are on a 24-hour cycle, women are on a 28-day cycle. You may wonder what this has to do with business, and the answer is ‒ everything! Burnout for women happens when they expect themselves to function the same every single day and function the same as men. Women get frustrated with themselves when they cannot keep up or they sacrifice their health to keep up.
Women were not designed to be in peak performance 24/7, 365 days a year. A woman’s cycle is made up of 4 phases (i.e., fall, winter, spring, summer) and each phase will affect creativity, motivation, stress levels, emotions, nutrition needs, physical needs, self-care needs, etc.
If you are a female, you may find yourself wondering why you have a few days where you feel like you can conquer the world and handle anything thrown at you and then turn around a few days later, questioning why you are annoyed with your employees, fighting with your husband, and criticizing your kids.
There are phases of your cycle where you will require more rest and internal time to yourself and others where you are more extroverted and can function on very little rest. If you are ignoring these needs, it makes sense you are at your breaking point.
#4 Not creating intentional rest periods for yourself and your business
Entrepreneurial burnout is very common but can be avoided with this one shift.
Create more rest!
As a high achiever, it feels counterintuitive to rest, but this one shift will improve team dynamics. When you are expecting yourself and your team to not only perform, but outperform every quarter, it gets exhausting. When people are exhausted, fulfillment, happiness, and performance go down and team conflict goes up. When this happens, it creates more work, stress, and exhaustion for the business owner.
Just like sports teams have on and off seasons to avoid injury, burnout and achieve peak performance, so should your business. When an athlete is training for the Olympic games, their entire year is designed to help them hit mental, emotional, and physical peak performance during their competitions. Within that year, is intentional daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly rest. Rest is more than sleep and vacation. Rest can be active and does not always mean doing nothing. To learn how you can create more rest while improving performance for yourself and your agency, check out the RAMP Method below.
#5 Lacking boundaries and leadership skills necessary for handling employee personalities
Dealing with employees and team members is the number one stressor we hear from female business owners. Many women who start businesses lack the tools and resources for managing and motivating team members and employees. You know you have to hire other people to grow, but nobody taught you how to manage the stress, personalities, and complications that employees can bring.
Given that women are naturally more emotional, the lines can get blurred when dealing with employee personalities. Being a female business owner on top of having female employees adds a whole other layer of emotions, moods, and motivators to the mix. Men are more likely to put their heads down and get their work done, even if it comes with complaining.
Women, on the other hand, are affected by life stress, past experiences, and hormones which can negatively impact how they interact, perform and function at work. Currently, there are very few resources out there for managing these types of team dynamics. That’s why we offer support not only to female entrepreneurs, but also to their entire teams.
If you find yourself at a breaking point, there are likely multiple factors contributing to your lack of fulfillment and joy. To identify the top 3 contributing factors to your breaking point, email email@example.com to request our 15-minute T.E.A.M Assessment.
5 Shifts You Can Make to Move Past Your Breaking Point and Back to Fulfillment
Change your belief that you must sacrifice yourself now for future success.
Create boundaries around your values and priorities, so your business can support your life, not the other way around.
Work with your female physiology instead of against it.
Create a one-year plan for your agency that accounts for rest and peak performance.
Find resources or a coach that can help you bridge the gap between life, business & employee relationships.
The RAMP Method is a proprietary system created by the co-owner of Success Without Sacrifice, LLC, Cheree Sauer. Cheree saw a gap in the marketplace for female business owners. After working with high-performing athletes for 14 years, Cheree became an entrepreneur and experienced burnout. She recognized a need to help female business owners merge the gap between business and life. She brought her knowledge of business, sports psychology, sports training, and team performance into the entrepreneurial world to help female business owners continue their success without sacrificing themselves.
Your body, especially as a female, was not designed to be in peak performance 24/7, 365 days per year. Just like pro-sports teams have training plans designed to avoid burnout, injury and achieve peak performance, the RAMP Method gives agencies a roadmap to structure their day, week, month, and year to fully optimize specific physiologies, so they can be in peak performance at the right time, instead of all the time. The RAMP method reduces burnout and improves team performance and fulfillment.
Rest - includes active rest, meaning work is still being done but not at the same intensity as in the peak phase. It is fun work. You have intentional boundaries. Family and friends are your biggest priorities.
Align - This is where you evaluate, assess, and get your habits and boundaries aligned with your values & priorities. This is your planning and prep phase to create a solid foundation before moving into the next 2 phases.
Master - This is where you will master your mindset and calendar so you can start to ramp up your activity. This is the start of your busy season. Think of this as the pre-launch phase. In this phase, your priority is starting to become more business focused and other priorities will intentionally be removed from your calendar.
Peak - This is your busiest season of the year. For example, if you are a speaker, this would be your travel season. For certain businesses, there may be more than one busy season. Or if you launch, this would be your launch phase. This is the growth phase for your business, so your business will be your #1 priority. Your friends, family, and other priorities might take more of a back seat, but you will still maintain a good balance.
There is no one size fits all, which is why the team at Success Without Sacrifice, LLC works with you in a 1:1 capacity to help you create your own RAMP Method Roadmap that is specific to your business and life goals.
Tarah Dove, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Tarah Dove is Co-Owner of Success Without Sacrifice, LLC with Business Partner Cheree Sauer. As CMO/Marketing Success Coach, Tarah brings over 15 years of Marketing experience to the Partnership. Using the proprietary system, The RAMP Method, created by Co-Owner Cheree, the duo works with Entrepreneurs to merge the gap between business and life. Their mission and The RAMP Method of coaching help reduce burnout and improve team performance and fulfillment for female Insurance Agency Owners.