Ben Bierman, managing director of Business Partners Limited. File photo.
Ben Bierman, managing director of Business Partners Limited. File photo.

How to manage the risk of burnout

By Opinion Time of article published Apr 25, 2021

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By: Ben Bierman

BEING a business owner can be immensely rewarding but it requires a lot of mental resilience too.

Business owners invariably clock up significant overtime and are usually hard at work long after 5pm.

A Gallup poll recently found that 39 percent of business owners work in excess of 60 hours a week.

Covid-19 has added to the pressured workday.

No person can keep up this high level of output without the risk of burnout. Should burnout occur, the consequences to the business (as well as the owner) can be dire, often resulting in poor decisions being made, compromised personal health and a very negative experience of putting even the most dedicated individual off entrepreneurship for good.

A few pointers on how to navigate the risks.


No one is immune to burnout. It is important to identify the signs and symptoms early on. This might include bouts of anxiety and sadness, apathy, withdrawal from friends and family, addictive behaviour and disruptions in sleeping and eating habits. Take immediate action should any of the symptom be identified.


Take time out. Taking the family on an outing or going for a jog will keep energy levels up for longer. Make sure that employees do the same to avoid errors creeping in.

Wherever possible, consider ways to automate as much of the business’ repetitive workload to free up time to spend valuable energy on higher-level tasks instead.


Avoiding burnout means stepping away from work when needed. Take planned or unplanned time off to ensure that the business can continue to exist without too much support. Ensure that key staff are adequately trained to take over certain roles temporarily if needed.

While it’s not possible for one person to take over a business owner’s work while taking time out to recover, it is a good idea to spread the most important tasks around and find ways of responsibly putting certain duties on hold.

Take time to work out a contingency plan and train the right people to take over when needed.

The tremendous stress that comes with being a business owner is unavoidable.

But, maintaining a positive mental state through a good work life balance, and approaching burnout just like any other important but manageable business risk, will ultimately pay off in the long run.

Ben Bierman is a managing director at Business Partners Limited.

*The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL or of title sites.


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