The topic today is hitting burnout in your business. I’m not exploring burnout itself, but more accurately some of the causes and stressors in our businesses that lead to burnout. I was walking my dog earlier, thrilled that I can now have light and temperate weather after 5:00, and it got me thinking about seasons and how they affect us. There are seasons and rhythms in everything, even in business, and working with those seasons is what can help us avoid burnout. Explore that with me.

Every business has a different rhythm and flow. The first months of the year are extremely busy for accountants but summer is extremely busy for wedding planners. We all know what times of year our business blossoms and fills out and when we feel more of a lull. That rhythm, if we don’t plan for it, leads to a lot of stress. It’s not the busyness of business that causes burnout, it’s the unpredictability. That’s what I want to focus on: how can we prepare for the busyness ahead of time so we avoid the last-minute stress of the sudden demands?

If we follow the natural seasons and rhythms of our bodies, we sleep better, we function better, we are more productive. It’s the same with businesses. If we prepare for the seasons and rhythms of our business, we can market well ahead of time and get clients set up early for the busy time. And conversely, we can plan holidays for quiet times instead of stressing over that slowdown. How do we manage the unpredictability and make our businesses run more smoothly? How do we avoid busyness burnout? I’m going to talk about that so we can start planning for efficiency now.

Key Moments

01:31 Different industries have different rhythms and seasons

04:40 Why we shouldn’t just “seize the day” and grind early, but work with our personal rhythms.

06:20 What do customers need in each season of our business?

  • We have the power to request change in our work so that we can align our rhythms
  • We need to assess and understand the natural seasons and flow of our business
  • Last-minute demands and rollercoaster emotions, when not accounted for, can cause burnout

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Contact Kari Lotzien | Be the Anchor: 

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Transcript:

Kari Lotzien: [00:00:01] Welcome to Be the Anchor, the podcast. I’m your host, business and leadership coach Kari Lotzien. When the seas of life get stormy, and they always will, it is not up to us to captain anyone else’s ship or to try to calm the waters of the ocean. It’s up to us to set our own destination for what we really want, and to learn how to navigate those waves of life together while finding that place of security and stability with others. I call this being an anchor. 

Kari Lotzien: [00:00:37] Hello my friends. I’m so glad you’re here. I just got back from taking my dog for a walk, and I got to tell you, it was so nice to be able to get outside and not have to put on my winter coat and boots and mitt and toque to try and stay warm as I bear down in winter weather to take the dog outside. We are coming into spring. I feel like it’s breathing new life into me, that I could take my dog out and enjoy the sun on my face. I am enjoying the longer days when we have daylight past 5:00 at night. It just feels amazing. And this got me to thinking about how we think about seasons and rhythms in business. And more specifically, today, I want to talk about how we can utilize seasons and rhythms to really help avoid burnout. Now I work with clients from all different industries, and what I notice is that every single industry has a rhythm and a season to it on an annual basis. So if you’re in the tourism or the hospitality industry, you might find that your busy season is in the summertime when people are planning vacations and they’re out and about. 

Kari Lotzien: [00:01:54] Or maybe you are selling recreational vehicles or boats, and that’s something that people are really looking to use in the summertime. Or a lot of my business professionals are in year-end accounting, financial planning, tax preparation, all of those good things. And this is their really busy time of year where they’re putting in long hours and they’re just really nose to the grindstone and getting things done. Construction is another one that tends to operate in the busy times between the spring and the fall, and slows down in the winter. So the first thing that I want to just acknowledge is that every business has a rhythm that generally aligns with seasons. You’ll have busy times and slow times throughout the year. But now what I want you to do is think about how does this align with your personal rhythms? Are you like me that your energy just gets slow in the wintertime? That when the sun sets at 5:00, all you want to do is go to sleep or, you know, eat warm comfort foods, but that your creative energy just isn’t really there? But then maybe in the summertime, you find that that’s when it comes back for you, that that’s when you have more energy to take on new projects, or to come up with new ideas, or to explore new things in your business.

Kari Lotzien: [00:03:17] When we consciously consider how these two forms of energy connect with each other, I think this is the secret to really helping us to avoid burnout long-term, because when we can align our personal energy and set ourselves up so that we have systems in place so that things work well and smoothly with our business rhythms, I think this is how we optimize what I call a flow state, where we feel like things are easy, we don’t feel like we are doing the hardest type of work that requires the most focus, where we’re having to be really social and have a high level of energy when our personal rhythms are in a lower state. We know what that feels like, where it’s like we’re just trying to push through the tough times and where it’s like pushing water uphill, right? We just feel like we’re not getting ahead. When you think about circadian rhythms, daily rhythms, are you the type of person that you’re more of a morning person? You wake up, you’re ready to go, that’s your best focus, that’s where you really get things done. Or maybe you’re more of a night owl. Maybe you’re someone that wants everyone else leaves the office, or when you’ve got time, when it’s just quiet and dark, that’s where you’re really able to focus in and do your best work. I think the big thing is I hear and I read a lot of business books that say, you need to get up at 5 a.m., you need to be awake before everyone else, start your day, do the focus tasks first and get those out of the way. 

Kari Lotzien: [00:04:54] So you’ve heard, you know, eat the frog, do the hard thing, seize the day. I don’t think that’s how it works for a lot of us. I think that when we think about our natural rhythms, there are people that absolutely are early birds that love to do that kind of work in the morning, and there are others that enjoy a slower start. I have shifted. I used to be someone that used to do my best work late, late at night. I would quite often open my laptop at 830 at night and work for 2 or 3 hours well into the late hours, and I would get amazing work done. But it was way harder for me to focus in the mornings. That was a time when I was really distractable. As I’ve gotten older, that’s actually shifted for me. So you might notice that maybe it’s shifted for you too. Maybe you used to be more of a morning person, and now it maybe takes you a little bit longer and you don’t do kind of your best-focused work or socializing or running meetings, maybe until later in the morning. Give yourself permission. And instead of saying, well, this is what I have to do because this is what’s on the schedule and this is how things operate here, just ask yourself, do you have the power to maybe change, or to request that meetings are scheduled at a different time, or maybe even a different day of the week, when you don’t have as many things popping up on your schedule and your energy and your focus is better. 

Kari Lotzien: [00:06:20] The next is think about your clients, your customers, the people who are buying what you need. The next element of this is I want to make your business run more smoothly, and when it runs more smoothly, you have more consistent cash flow, you know kind of what’s coming up, you know what’s expected. So I want you to think of your customers in terms of kind of three different seasons. So I want you to think in your business with your customers, what is their immediate need? What are the things that they’re looking for right now? Where are their pain points right now? What do they really want right now? They want you to solve that problem for them yesterday. These types of purchases tend to be impulse-type buys. They’re things that someone sees exactly what they’re looking for, a quick solution to their problem, and they will make that purchase or get that service immediately. So you want to have some of those things on your schedule where when you’re doing your marketing, when you’re setting up your plans, that you are attracting those, what do people need? What do my customers need right now, and am I set up to provide that?

[00:07:42] Gillian is an incredible entrepreneur who is going through a time of scaling her very successful business. When she offered to record a testimonial about her experience with the Anchored Leadership Academy to go on my podcast, I was so honored. Have a listen to what she had to say. My name is Gillian and I just finished the Anchored Leadership program with Kari Lotzien. I’m a financial planner. I’ve owned a practice for eight years and I’d hit a space of exponential growth. Everything was going great, but I always struggled with the management of team, how to hire, how to fire, how to have those yucky conversations. And that was a huge takeaway from the Anchored Leadership, where I got tools and practice as to how to implement those things into my business so I can continue to grow and continue to thrive. It was an exceptional experience that I would highly recommend to any business owner who is looking to push through their discomfort to that next level of success. In the Anchored Leadership Academy, we combine weekly live sessions for one hour that focus on a key area of leadership, and then participants have the ability to work through all of the content in the modules between sessions. This allows a nice balance between accountability for really busy entrepreneurs to keep moving forward with the program and get it done, while also having the ability to flex their time a little bit and make it work for them. An added bonus, all participants get lifetime access to the videos, the audio, all of the resources in the course so you can keep coming back to it again and again when it applies to that specific time in your business. If this sounds like an interesting thing to you, click the link in the show notes, book an inquiry call, and let’s see if the Anchored Leadership Academy is right for you at this stage of business. Thanks so much. Back to the show.

Kari Lotzien: [00:09:44] So those immediate needs tend to be last-minute bookings. They tend to be those quick phone calls of things that people just need right away. So do you have those products and services available? Do you have inventory in stock so that you can provide that service quickly and efficiently? Do you have space? Do you allow space in your schedule so that you know that certain days of the week, maybe those are the times where people are consistently calling and they want that last-minute appointment, or they’re wondering if they can just get squeezed in.

Kari Lotzien: [00:10:16] Do you allot for that in your schedule? Because you want to get raving fans, and one of the ways we get raving fans is by being able to satisfy the need of the customer right away. But I don’t want you to feel like you have that stressor that you want to provide what your customer or client wants, but you’ve already overbooked your day and you haven’t allowed space for that impulse buy or that quick purchase. To allow this to work with your rhythms and to prevent that burnout and that feeling of overwhelm, you want to allow space in your schedule for that. The next thing is I want you to think one season out. So if you’re listening to this podcast episode at the beginning of April, I want you to start thinking about July. I want you to think about your client, your customer right now. What might they be doing, what might they be looking for in July? And I want you to gently start to talk to those clients who come in on that last-minute appointment about what’s happening in July. And what you want to do is you’re kind of gently guiding them towards another opportunity to do business with you or to come back. So, for example, maybe you have someone who right now in their business is trying to do their financial planning, they’re doing their tax preparation, they’re trying to do their year-end, and things feel really chaotic. 

Kari Lotzien: [00:11:49] And you know that in the summertime, well, that’s when they really want to take a break and they want to get away on holidays and they just want to kind of get away from it all. You might plan that before they go on holidays, maybe you’re going to do a quick review meeting with them so that you can go through their tax planning early so that it doesn’t feel as overwhelming for you when they’re coming into their next tax season. So you might just think about, you know, doing their quarterly appointments. Are they set up for, you know, their corporate tax preparation in that next quarter? So you’re just trying to kind of get ahead of it a little bit. And again, you’re planting those seeds with your customers. You’re maybe asking them if they want to make an appointment ahead of time. You know, so things like maybe you’re in the event industry and right now maybe isn’t the time that your clients are, you know, really thinking about booking their holidays or getting ahead of it. But you know that when July hits and things are really, really busy, then maybe that’s when things start to really be pushed. If you already have an existing relationship with that customer, you can be calling them ahead of time and see if you can kind of get them ahead of the curve so that your busyness becomes more predictable. If you know it’s coming, are there some clients that you can maybe book in a little bit earlier or get ahead with? So now again, it starts to become more predictable. 

Kari Lotzien: [00:13:17] The last thing is one of the things that we’re seeing in business right now, I don’t necessarily know why, if it’s that as we’ve come out of these last few years post-pandemic, I feel like there’s more and more people who are more cautious with their spending right now. And I am seeing this with my clients amongst almost every industry where they’re saying, you know what, things are just a little bit slower this year, where we’re just not seeing the spending that we were maybe in years past. What we know is that more of your clients, more of your customers are going to need to feel nurtured. So I want you to also be thinking six months out, which might seem like you’re getting really ahead of yourself. But the reason why I want you to do this, if you are selling a high-ticket item or someone really has to spend significant money on your product or service, then you need to be thinking at least six months out before they’re making that purchase. And I want you to think in terms of your marketing and your systems and your procedures. How are you guiding that customer from where they are right now to making that big purchase with you six months from now, especially if you have a high-ticket item? So what this does for you as well is now you are not relying on those impulse customers who are last minute, who need something yesterday. In that type of a relationship, those people who are making the impulse buys, it tends to be more tension, more high-stress.

Kari Lotzien: [00:14:58] They will make those last-minute decisions, often on price. So this is where we’re inclined to lower our price to offer a sale, to give a discount. It’s stress-inducing to a business owner and to a business. So you don’t want your business to rely on that, because that’s where that roller coaster of emotions can really come in. And I think that’s what can really contribute to burnout long-term, when we are depending on those last-minute purchases. So I want you to start to think further ahead and really think about what could I be preparing for those customers that I want six months from now? Where am I going to provide education to them in my marketing? How can I be connecting with them or reaching out to them? So when you think about if your busy season or your big purchase item is coming in the fall, I want you to think about how can you be nurturing your clients now to help them develop that trust relationship with you? How can you be educating them so that they get to know you? Can you give them kind of some great advice to help set them up for success? That by the time you launch that big ask or that big release, that they’re feeling really trustworthy and they’re way more likely to make that bigger purchase.

Kari Lotzien: [00:16:16] Though, when you can plan and predict six months out, now all of a sudden you don’t feel at the mercy of your business. You don’t feel like you’re kind of being caught behind all the time. So I want my event planners, my wedding planners, I want them, and I mean, I know that the busy, busy ones, sometimes they’re planning more than a year ahead of time, and they’re doing their trade shows, and a lot of their advertising and marketing is being done far, far in advance. But what works beautifully for them is then when they’re in the busy season, they already know exactly what the schedule looks like a year in advance. They know what staff they need to help manage that. They know what their revenue is going to look like. Now all of a sudden it becomes very predictable. And it’s not the busyness that causes burnout, it’s the unpredictability. So when you can align a) your own personal rhythms, when you can know that, yeah, you know what? Business tends to be slower in the winter or this certain time of year tends to be our kind of slower season. And what you find personally is maybe that’s when your stress kicks in because, oh, things are slow. We don’t have the revenue. Things aren’t coming in. This is when my stress kicks in. But maybe that’s the perfect time where you can pause, take a holiday, get away, maybe brainstorm some new ideas, do some masterminding, take a training, any sorts of thing like that.

Kari Lotzien: [00:17:53] The ideal time to do that is when you are in a slower place in business. So plan for it. Allow yourself to take a holiday. Step away from the office because like I said, when you expect it, when you know it’s coming and you align and plan for it, that this is when you’re going to put your feet up for a little bit and catch your breath, now you’re ready for when it builds up again. If it’s unexpected or you haven’t planned for it, that slowdown can also create tension. And again, this is why I take you back to it is not the busyness that causes burnout, it’s the unpredictability. Some people burn out when things are slow because they’re worrying about where that next client or customer is coming from, and what do they need to do to prepare for it? It’s the unpredictability of should I be letting staff go? Should I be cutting my team back? If you knew to expect it, you can plan for it and away you go. So I hope that that was helpful today as you come into the spring season thinking about what this means for you, where your energy is at, and how can you align that with the rhythms and season in your business? I’m going to be talking more about this because I think that there are rhythms to our day, there’s rhythms to the week, there are human rhythms that we have in our bodies and in our cycles that we can be utilizing more and more, I think, to offset some of that stress response in our bodies.

Kari Lotzien: [00:19:24] So this is a topic that I’m probably going to keep coming back to, and I’d love to hear your questions and your thoughts. Do you already do things like this in your business? What do you find works really well for you? Or is this something you haven’t maybe fully embraced yet and you want to learn more about it? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Let’s connect. Again, if you haven’t liked and subscribed, please do and I would love for you, the best way to stay connected and to find out what’s going on, where I’m going to be, if there are webinars coming up where you can do a deep dive, and we can have conversations together where you can ask your questions, the best place to find out about any and all of that is through my newsletter. So click on the link in the show notes and make sure that you sign up so that you don’t miss anything that’s going on. Thanks so much for being here. We will see you next time.

Kari Lotzien: [00:20:11] Please know that this podcast is meant for entertainment purposes only. It is not a substitution for medical or professional mental health advice. If you require support, please do reach out. Thanks so much.