Here are five ways digital solutions can help you avoid a crash.
Explosive business growth is the dream of every entrepreneur—until it turns into a nightmare. When growth happens too quickly, it can outpace sustainability, putting the organization at risk of burnout.
To avoid a crash, calls for radical interventions. Fortunately, today’s digital solutions make that possible. With a few skillful digital tweaks to the way you’re doing things, you can quickly get your growing business back on the track toward healthy, supportable growth.
How to know if your business is in the burnout tunnel
When a person faces burnout, their energy reserves and coping strategies can no longer keep up with the demands on them. On every level of their being—physical, mental, emotional, spiritual—they feel fatigued. As a result, they lose the ability to care about the activities or goals they were once passionate about pursuing. Life feels futile.
You know you’re on the edge of personal burnout when you have an overwhelming feeling of being trapped or thwarted. In their best-selling book, Burnout: The Secret of Unlocking the Stress Cycle, Emily and Amelia Nagoski explain where this sense of paralysis comes from: “Emotional exhaustion happens when we get stuck in an emotion and can’t move through the tunnel.”
In other words, burnout and tunnel vision have a lot in common. In a business, tunnel vision happens when the business loses its energy because the organization is overwhelmed by the non-stop demands growth has created, and all the frustration that goes along with that.
You know you’re at risk of getting sucked into the burnout tunnel when your growth strategy is outperforming your growth capacity. In other words, you’re bringing in lots of business, but your team is struggling to deliver on the promises you’ve made your customers.
Common signs your business could be headed for burnout
How many of these warning signs of business burnout sound familiar to you?
- Your sales team is making new records, but the rest of the company can’t keep up.
- You’re missing delivery deadlines.
- You’ve had to cancel order or project.
- You have trouble prioritizing business opportunities, so you say “yes” to everything, regardless of your capacity to deliver.
- You have plenty of orders pending in accounts receivables, but cash flow is a constant problem.
- You’re not able to provide the same level of quality of customer experience you used to provide.
- Your organization lacks internal structure. People lack clearly defined roles; it’s just “all hands on deck” all the time.
- You keep expanding your team, but that doesn’t seem to save you time or money, and your employee turnover rate is high.
- You live day-by-day, with little time for goal-setting and planning.
Such problems deplete your company’s energy and jeopardize its long-term survival because they put the business under continual pressure. Even though parts of the organization (probably the marketing and sales functions) may seem to be flourishing, the business as a whole is stuck in the tunnel of persistent, exhausting stress.
Sound familiar? If so, your business could probably use some digital support to create breathing space and re-energize you and your employees.
How digital solutions can help
When you’re trapped in the burnout tunnel, the thought of turning to digital solutions for help might be the furthest thing from your mind. When no one has time to pause for lunch or keep up with the most basic customer demands, how can you possibly consider asking your team to take on new technology?
Well, you’ve heard the old proverb attributed to Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
To get your business out of the cycle of ongoing overload, you need to try something different. That something could well be digital.
Here are five ways that digital solutions can help you stop a decline into business burnout:
1. Improve efficiency across the organization. Implementing a digital solution should never start with scrapping your current business processes. A thoughtful digital solution provider will first start by guiding you through the process of examining your existing business processes. As you do that, you’ll likely uncover places where effort is being duplicated, or where communication is slowing things down. Those redundancies and bottlenecks present opportunities for automation.
For example, perhaps your accounting team is entering customer information multiple times into multiple systems. This might be a perfect opportunity to introduce a digital solution that enables one employee to enter the information into a database accessible across the company.
2. Manage tasks more effectively. An ever-increasing range of applications to manage tasks and projects offer opportunities to recapture the focus you’ve lost. Such applications allow you to visually display and sort tasks for individuals and for the team as a whole. Some include features to enable project management, resource planning, and collaboration, and many are customizable.
At the most basic level, you might take a digital approach to task management simply by configuring Outlook to make the most of its My Task feature. At the intermediate level, you might consider a web-based project management tool, such as Asana, Wrike, or Monday. At the advanced, level, you might look into more comprehensive software that incorporates support for financial planning, human resource management, and more. Netsuite, Oracle’s offering for small and medium-sized businesses, fits into this category.
3. Enhance your customer service. If customer service has been suffering, the right digital solution may enable you to deliver once again the premium customer experience you built your reputation on. In fact, you may even exceed your previous level of service.
For example, a digital solution may enable you to reduce wait times on your phone line and to provide instant, personalized follow-up as soon as a customer places an order.
4. Enable data-driven decision-making. Digital solutions can help you manage your growth by collecting, analyzing, and monitoring data from various sources. Rather than making decisions based on hunches, you can move forward with confidence, using key performance indicators (KPIs) and other metrics to guide your steady, sustainable progress.
For instance, rather than ordering inventory based on your best guess about how the coming season will compare with the last season, you can use hard data and predictive analytics to right-size your order.
5. Empower your employees. Any digital solution means change, and not all employees welcome change, especially if it requires them to learn new skills. However, you can use digital solutions to overcome that digital challenge.
For instance, you make training quick and accessible by offering it through self-paced eLearning. You can also encourage employees to support one another by contributing to a library of how-to videos, using a simple screen-capture tool, such as Loom.
Keep in mind these wise words attributed to Richard Branson: “If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” Digital solutions can give you new ways to relieve employee stress, build up confidence, and rekindle enthusiasm.
Prevent burnout by strengthening internal resources
The cure for personal burnout is to stop trying to fight all the external stressors and focus instead on strengthening internal resources. The Nagoski sisters call this “growing mighty.”
The best way to stop business burnout is also to examine and build up your internal operations. Stop, breathe, and get organized. Or rather, get modernized. Slow down long enough to assess the issues that could throw the business into crisis, and then equip yourself with the digital tools you need to grow mighty, at your own pace and on your own terms.