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Busy or Burnout? 6 Signs of Business Owner Burnout

Business owners today face numerous challenges. Uncertainty. Changing customer or client needs. Changing needs of employees. New technologies.

With so many challenges today, it’s no surprise that burnout rates are on the rise and impacting business owners across industries. Are you one of them?

What is burnout?

Burnout is a workplace phenomenon resulting in mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. If left unchecked, burnout can result in serious medical issues, including chronic fatigue, depression, and anxiety. Below are the three main components of burnout:

  • exhaustion (fatigue, inability to focus, low creativity, etc.)

  • cynicism (feeling inadequate, negative, and powerless, etc.)

  • feelings of poor performance (missing deadlines, procrastination, second-guessing decisions, etc.)

Don’t stress and fatigue come with the territory?

Feeling stressed or tired from time to time is reasonable. Feeling chaotic and exhausted over months or years is a path to severe burnout.

Many business owners experiencing burnout don’t see how close they are to severe burnout. It can be easy to view the role of business owner as one that is inherently stressful and overwhelming. So, days of back-to-back meetings with no lunch break and waking up often in the middle of the night thinking about the business can seem like they come with the role. Sleep deprivation may seem like a badge of honor, but don't be fooled.

What are signs of business owner burnout?

Burnout assessments often focus on technical medical language. For driven, high achievers, these may not resonate. (We think we can handle anything!) In my work with business owners and executives, I’ve found that statements that more practically reflect the burnout experience are more insightful.

Below is a burnout inventory of 30 business owner statements across 6 areas. As you read, take note of how many statements resonate with you in each area. This will give you a sense of your burnout experience and where you can start to get support and make changes. The more statements you agree with, the more likely you are to be experiencing burnout.

1. You no longer enjoy your business.

We start our businesses with an aspirational reason: to create time or location freedom, to leave a legacy for our family, or to make an impact in our community or industry. Growing burnout can cloud the passion for our businesses.

Reflect on your passion for your business. Which of these resonate with you?

  • I lost track of why I started this business in the first place.

  • I’ve realized I no longer enjoy my business.

  • I no longer believe we’re doing something important.

  • I wish I could just hand over my business to someone else.

  • I started my business to have more freedom and leave a legacy, but it feels like a burden.

2. You’re losing yourself in the business.

Think about what you bring to the business as the leader and owner. Which of these statements have been on your mind?

  • I don’t feel really good at anything.

  • I don’t feel like a “real” CEO/president.

  • I’ve lost my self-confidence.

  • I don’t feel motivated to motivate my team.

  • I don’t know how to get people excited about the business anymore.

3. There is never enough time.

How we spend our time as business owners directly impacts the business. Reflect on how you spend your time from week to week. Which of the below describe how you feel about time.

  • I’m working more hours a week than I want to.

  • My days never seem to end.

  • I rarely take breaks, especially lunch.

  • I rarely have time to do the big work (strategy, innovation, business development, etc.) that I want.

  • I rarely have enough time for family, friends, or hobbies.

4. You’re often tired or exhausted.

As business owners, we need the energy to be the visionary and see the future of our business. We also need the energy to manage our team and the organization to create that vision. Think about your energy when you’re working and not working. Which of these reflect your energy?

  • I’m tired all the time from not enough, or poor quality, sleep.

  • I often feel drained and exhausted, with little energy for work or hobbies.

  • I’ve lost my creativity and innovation.

  • Decisions feel like a burden, and I’m becoming more of a bottleneck.

  • I am more easily frustrated with my team.

5. Your work days feel busy but not productive.

Business owners often feel the weight of their business. We may have more ideas than we can implement and end up with too much on our to-do lists. Reflect on the activities you’re doing for the business. Which of the below statements describe how you feel about your day-to-day activities?

  • I have too many priorities.

  • Being in the day-to-day of my business is draining.

  • My inboxes are piling up with things to do, and I’m drowning.

  • I’m too busy putting out fires and “in the weeds” to do the things I love in the business.

  • I have ideas but no one to implement them, so everything falls on me.

6. Your doubts or fears are fueling your overwhelm.

How we think reflects how we’ll choose to act. Reflect on your mindset and beliefs that may be holding you back or keeping you in a loop of frustration and stress. Which of these resonate with you?

  • I’m afraid to delegate to others in case they make a mistake I’ll have to clean up.

  • I’ve been putting off hiring a key new role, even though I know it’s needed for growth.

  • I feel more withdrawn from my team and my business.

  • I don’t think it’s possible to turn things around and enjoy my business again.

  • I’ve failed before at making changes, so I don’t want to try again.

So, based on your inventory of the six areas above, are you just busy? Or are you experiencing some level of burnout?

To learn more about how to create a work life and business you love, contact Conni Francini at, visit, and listen to the Maximize Business Value Podcast Burnout episode.


Conni Francini likes to say that she’s been guiding others to see and create a hopeful future since 1979. She created opportunities from limited resources, made the most of what little she had, and did the “right” things. As a high achiever, her intense expectations turned into perfectionism, which spiraled into burnout. Her survival story as an executive burnout has guided the way she runs Clarity Consulting, where her mission is to instill hope and enable success.

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