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How does passion become burnout?

Passion is a big component of entrepreneurial behavior. We start our businesses with an intense positive feeling about our idea or innovation. We go to bed thinking about it and wake up excited for what’s next. We “live for the business.” But at some point, this excitement turns to anguish. Sound familiar?


What we’ve got here is failure to communicate. We’ve failed to set up systems for delegation. We’ve failed to document our processes, train our people effectively, and most importantly, trust them to do the job. It won’t be perfect the first or tenth time, but you need to let your employees learn. It also helps to incentivize them to do better. I’m not quite sure, but I imagine this is somewhat like parenting. Although my husband keeps telling me there is no training program, and we can’t fire the kids. <shrug>



When I first opened my coffeehouse back in 2004, I didn’t think enough about my role as a leader. I was 24 years old when I wrote the business plan, and 26 when we opened our doors. I thought of myself as a marketeer, a business owner, an entrepreneur. But as a leader of people who I needed to depend upon for my livelihood, my business growth, my own sanity? Not so much. For two plus years, I kept recipes close and people far. I refused to rely on people. I can hear myself saying “never mind, I’ll do it myself.” At that very moment, the task may have gotten done faster. But multiply that by 20 and you can see how you run out of hours in the day. I was not focused on developing my systems or my people. That stunted my business growth and had a negative impact on my quality of life.


As a result, I was overworked and underpaid, and that quickly led to burnout. I didn’t have time to focus on the important things, both in and outside the business. I didn’t make it to my cousin’s wedding in the Florida Keys, or my other cousin’s graduation in St Pete. I didn’t prioritize other relationships in my life, let alone the relationships at work. What I wasn’t getting is that the restaurant business is very heavily reliant on people. You can’t possibly do it all yourself. That mindset is not sustainable, and it is a passion killer.


So, the first step in regaining quality of life was admitting that I need other people. (I still struggle to type it. Hahaha.) Swallow your pride, or whatever it is that’s blocking you from loving your business again. By the way, it’s also blocking you from developing significant, lifelong relationships. Not only do you need to learn to rely on your staff, but you also need trusted advisors around you. As small business owners, we sometimes feel like we must figure everything out ourselves. That is not true! Focus on what you love doing and outsource when it makes sense to do so. Think of it another way: we don’t get into business for ourselves to do things we hate doing. You can probably go work for someone else making more money doing things you hate doing. You get to decide where you need help. And entrepreneurs who get help succeed bigger and more often.

The next step was recognizing that my employees were my number one asset. Once you realize that, you’ll start to treat them differently. Suddenly training becomes a priority, and culture is paramount. You make sure each employee feels like a valued member of the team. You invest in their longevity. Setting them up for success is setting YOU up for success. Your focus will turn to setting up systems so that you don’t have to be there all the time. You’ll start to trust your people to do their job. You’ll have a bonus system in place to encourage the behavior that will help your business succeed. You’ll start to get fewer and fewer phone calls from your staff. You’ll start cooking for yourself again. Exercising. Prioritizing time with friends and family.


So how did I get there? I was lucky. A transplant from Indiana walked through the door and asked for a job. He slowly convinced us that we needed a manager in place so that we could focus on the business. Trusting him to manage our first location allowed us to spend time building those systems that set us up for growth. Kelly, if you’re reading, THANK YOU.


How will you get there? Reading this blog is a good start. Once you start to teach, trust, and empower your people, you’ll see that passion reawaken. And you’ll see your business thrive. I’m here when you’re ready for help.

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