If you run a small business or even a blog, I’m sure you’ve heard this term many times.
Burnout is a state of mental and/or physical exhaustion from doing something repetitive (or not) over a long period of time. And damn, I’m experiencing it now! I didn’t think I would but here we are.
My small business occupies so much of my brain that I even dream about it sometimes. It is what I think about the moment I wake up, when I’m at work, when I’m in the shower and before I fall asleep. My mind is just always thinking about what I can make next, what colours I can incorporate, whose orders I haven’t shipped out and sometimes even ‘why haven’t I gotten an order in a week?’
There are a lot of times where I wish I didn’t care so much and took things slower and at a more relaxing pace. After all, the reason I set up my small business was only as a side hobby to earn a bit of extra pocket money, not for me to stress about it 24/7.
Feeling the ‘imposter syndrome’.
I didn’t really know what an imposter syndrome was until I saw many of my fellow creatives posting about it. The imposter syndrome is simply ‘psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents, or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.
I’m not saying I’m a fraud. Everything I put out is honest and from the heart. But people visit my instagram page and see over 2,000 followers, and immediately start to assume I’ve got a good sales flow. The truth is, I haven’t. I’m gonna be real with everyone.
I’m lucky to even get a sale a day. Once, I went without a single order for 8 days.
Yes, it is very demoralising. Do people not like my products? Are they bored? Is my content too predictable? Do people not use soap anymore?
As someone who intends on making this a full-time job one day, it hurt me really bad.
I have to occasionally stop myself and remind little old me that this isn’t as deep as I make it out to be. Maybe my customers haven’t finished what they previously bought yet. Maybe they’re taking a break. Maybe they forgot about my company for a bit – which is fine! I also have to remind myself that this happens to people all the time.
Putting pressure on myself on making new things all the time.
I used to release a new item every week. How crazy is that?! My brain was on fire and the serotonin I got from posting that new Instagram post showing everyone my latest creation was unreal. I still really want to do that now but my levels of creativity aren’t as high as they were before.
I still am thinking about ideas but executing them is tough. My full time work schedule really hinders my progress with anything to do with my small business as I only come home at 10.30pm every night and I have about 2 hours to make everything I want before I have to go to bed to get my 8 hours to be prepared for work again the next day.
I get so tired a lot of the time and I barely have any proper ‘days off’.
Even though I have a phobia of people getting bored of seeing the ‘same old’ products, I need to tell myself that it’s okay to not release new things all the time. So many companies have one set of products that they have for months and continue to sell, so why do I feel the pressure to keep creating new things?
Never wanting to take a break in fear of ‘losing out’ on sales.
Whenever I see fellow small biz owners ‘take a break’, I sometimes wish I could do that too. But I can’t bring myself to do it – in fear of ‘losing out’.
What if, it just so happens, that when I take my ‘break’, an influx of people all around the world suddenly really want to buy my stuff? They will proceed to visit my website, see that it is password protected and move on to the next maker to purchase something from. I’ve then lost a customer and a potential sale!
In June 2021, this tweet of mine went viral with over 1 million views. It was a picture I tweeted of my Animal Crossing fossil soap. It happened overnight and I had so many orders, more than I had ever had before and I was happy but also so stressed! I only had 1 mould that needed to set for 12 hours at minimum. How was I going to fulfil those 20 orders?!
I ordered 4 more moulds from the maker who was in the US, and spent $70 on those. They were expensive! But I knew they weren’t going to get to Singapore in time as the last time I ordered it took more than 5 weeks to get to me. I had too many orders already!
For the sake of my mental health (as I was really stressing over it 24/7), I put a stop to all sales for that item, and then proceeded to change it to a pre-order. Even though I felt slightly better after doing that, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had lost so many potential customers. My tweet had over 1 million impressions, for god’s sake! I could’ve gotten so many new customers! Did I miss out?!
The FOMO was real. It was my first and probably last time going viral.
Do any of you fellow creators experience burnout? How do you recover from it without feeling the guilt of not doing anything or potentially missing out?
I see people taking breaks from things all the time and as much as I would like to do that too, I feel like I wouldn’t get the rest I would need and I would still think about my small business all the time. Do you have any tips?
My Halloween drop is planned for mid-September and I am stressing out – but I do hope to get your support! Visit my website here!
13 responses to “Experiencing Creativity Burnout With My Small Business”
I experience this LITERALLY EVERY SINGLE DAY OF MY LIFE FOR THE LAST IDK 20-ISH YEARS?! I love creating and I love when my “next best writing” comes along. And now that I’ve opened my own Etsy shop I’m trying to remind myself that I’m creating FOR ME. If something resonates or helps someone while they’re scrolling through Etsy, awesome! If not, cool too. But then I started getting orders and now I’m like… oh, I have to fill those huh?
We also have to remember; we’re still in a pandemic. People who can afford to spend extra money are over the stir crazy of “being home” since some places are opening back up — and those who are still struggling from losing jobs and things, are still struggling.
It’s not that “no one wants our stuff”, it’s just the world has a different kind of “normal” now. Keep doing what you’re doing, take breaks when you need (today is my “shop break day”). You’re doing great! 🙂
OMG – girl you need a break, so do I! 😛
I need to spend more time outdoors! I have a trip planned soon and I am counting down! lol
Burnout is so real. This is interesting and shows that even when you take a break, the business is still there.
I always get scared people will find other companies while I’m ‘gone’ 😔
There’s definitely a lot of pressure to contend with! I don’t have a business (which clearly has its own set of unique stressors) and can only imagine how impactful burnout can be. I had to take many months off from blogging which I didn’t really mind as what I needed to 100% focus on was much more important but even then there was a bit of guilt. I think ultimately we can only do our best, and sometimes resting is how we get there (but totally get that’s easier said than done). Sending you positive thoughts and love!
I do think I’ll need to take a month off my small business especially after the Christmas period. Thank you for sending good vibes my way!
Thank you for this honest post. I can relate in terms of setting up a new blog. It’s 1am & I’m reading blogs, haha! Don’t be too hard on yourself, it’s easier said than done though & just means you care ❤️
It’s always like this when you fall in love with something new and like you said, it means I care which isn’t bad 😛
Very well written. I can relate to this. You are right- afterall this was meant to be side hustle and not something that makes us worry 24/7. That’s my takeaway from this article.
Thank you! 😊
I totally feel you, I am constantly wanting to do more of everything! x
Ugh, it’s a very annoying creative process!