Article in brief: the importance of focusing on your skills and taking time out to unwind to ultimately benefit your business.
Burnout. It’s something we are all susceptible to at one point in our lives or another. Working around the clock without taking the time off to nourish your soul and reassess your surroundings can greatly increase the risk of this, and as a result, you can become lethargic, unexcited, and incapable of performing your tasks.
This is particularly likely to happen in the early stages of a project or business you’re passionately working on, and with me, it happened after four months of daily work on, at, and for Spontiphoria, my owned café and boutique business.
As I’ve mentioned in my previous articles, a small business owner is usually in charge of practically every single aspect of the business. The accounts, marketing, admin work, daily managing, inventory, brand-building, event-planning; it’s all you. It’s impossible to handle all these aspects on your own and give each task its due. However, most of us still find it difficult to relinquish control over certain aspects of our business, either because of our Type A personalities or a lack of resources. In my case, administrative tasks and accounting have never been my strong point, and to this day I find that my skills in this area need significant improvement.
But is that improvement really necessary? Last month, I started an online course on business development and in it, the instructor, Whitney English, talks about the importance of focusing on your strong points and delegating your weaker points. It’s something that really struck a chord and resonated with me. She speaks about how each one of us is gifted with a particular set of talents, and expecting to handle all aspects of your business by yourself is only going to undermine your overall efforts. She iterates the importance of focusing on your sets of talents and skills to grow your business, and encourages business owners to delegate the tasks they’re not that skilled in. This to me sounded a lot like my Intro to Microeconomics course in my freshman year at college. It is the simple concept of comparative advantage used to describe international trade, but it can very well be used to describe business relations.
By delegating my weaker points and focusing on my talents and skills, which revolve around my people-skills and the more creative aspect of event planning, recipe development, and product-curating, I would avoid burnout (for the second time!). The other, more concrete advantage of that would be a more organized business and a fresher outlook to pursue the tasks I am really passionate about.
If you don’t focus on delegating tasks, you run the risk of not performing at your optimal level which will lead to your business suffering. Sometimes it isn’t that feasible in the early stages of a business to hire someone to handle this particular aspect so enlist part-time help from friends or family who are talented in that particular field.
With me, the burnout manifested itself in many ways. I would sleep for perhaps nine hours a night but still not have the energy to get out of bed till almost noon. I would spend hours on tasks that would normally take a third of that time. The idea of working would mentally drain me and I didn’t pursue my goals with the passion and determination I previously had. I was, in essence, stuck in somewhat of a stagnant quicksand if that makes any sense.
Learning about this in detail from my course, and drawing the similarity between this and the economic concept of comparative advantage, helped me focus on my talents and delegate my weaker points, for the wellbeing of myself and my business.
Through experience (and the advice and persuasion of those around me) I also began to understand that although your business may be your life, it is important to take the time out and focus entirely on you. Take a few hours out each week and do what truly refreshes you. Paint, get lost in a book, bake something, or go for a swim. So many of those who have businesses are of the opinion that your business is you and you are your business, so we must extend that opinion to include taking care of ourselves. Feeding your soul and taking the time out to unwind and refresh will ultimately benefit your business.
Sidiqa is 25 years old and is half-Emirati and half-Pakistani. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the American University of Sharjah and a Master’s degree in Conflict Prevention, Sustainable Peace, and Security from the University of Durham in the UK. Sidiqa owns and manages the boutique-café concept store “Spontiphoria” in Wasl Square, Jumeirah.