Friday, November 6, 2020 | November 2020
Complete burnout. If you haven’t been there, you’ve seen a friend in the industry get there. And worst case, you may have seen this state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion be the demise of a business or a career. Aaron Stokes, founder of Shop Fix Academy, sat down with MWACA Magazine to discuss how being burnt out can affect your business, and how to pull yourself out of the negative headspace.
Why do you think it's so common for shop owners to feel like they're always on the verge of getting burnt out?
I believe that’s because of exhaustion— mentally, not so much physically. But physi - cally exhausting yourself leads to the mental exhaustion. Because when you physically push yourself so hard, when you're done with work you just want to veg out on the couch. You don't actually allow yourself to process. You need that downtime to dream, to think, and to journal. Without that, you're always going to be physically pushing your - self because you're never able to find a way to do something better. You never give your - self time to think. Most owners avoid think - ing sometimes, and would rather just work more hours. We all need to slow down and do more thinking.
How does a burnt out owner affect their team and their business?
The employees stop caring because they can tell you don't care, and a lot of owners confuse attendance with caring. Just because you're around all the time doesn't mean you care. It's very important that you're always showing that you're trying to get things going in the right direction. Just by focusing on making adjustments, giving feedback to employees, and critiquing systems to make them better, is all going to come through like you want it to. If you just avoid these types of conver - sations, and you hide in your office, your employees are going to feel like you don't care. And when they feel like you don't care, they start to not care, and systems start getting dropped. This all results in customers not getting taken care of properly.
What are some signs pointing to an oncoming burnout?
When you can't remember the last time you did one of your hobbies. When you are finding yourself always stressed with a faster heart rate. When you are smoking or drinking or eating more to calm yourself down. When you're snapping at your children, or your spouse, or your employees. When you have no creativity in your business and you're not coming up with new ideas anymore.
What are some different things that owners can do to avoid getting to this place?
You have to keep your vision in front of you. If your vision is in front of you, you always know your “why,” so you're willing to push through hard times. And when you get done with something, you know that you're one step closer to your “why.” When there's no vision, you get through some hard periods of time and you don't remember why you're doing it. So what happens is, you work through an entire weekend, and all you think is that you’re just going to keep working every weekend. But when your vision is in mind, you see that you just did 15 percent more sales during the month, and you’re that much closer to being able to afford to hire somebody to work those weekends. You see it as an encouragement, even though you needed to work on those hours, it was the win.
You mentioned hobbies and self-care, can you explain how that helps to avoid burnout?
Sometimes you just need to get away from the business and not think about it at all. And then all of a sudden that idea will pop into your head and it will be a solution to some problem at the job site. You need to allow yourself to wander, and to be totally consumed by a hobby. I like to ride motorcycles because it totally takes up all my concentration. I'm distracted easily, so it forces me to focus. So when I come back, I feel refreshed. Many of our decisions are based on feeling, so shouldn't I keep myself top of mind?
Do you have any words of encouragement for owners that may be feeling really exhausted right now, or on the verge of burnout?
Now is the time to be thankful for this reset that COVID-19 brought you, because if you're in a tough spot, so is your competition. You're on an equal playing field. This is an incredible time to be in this industry. Be thankful you were not a restaurant or a gym. There's so much to be thankful for. And if you focus on thankfulness, you will get creative and you will think of new ideas. When you think of new ideas, you'll come up with new profit centers and you'll find new success. Just keep thinking positively, but you have to take positive action along with it.