The Burnout Factor
I am tired. Today was a long day, just like every day has been the past couple of years. TV and other media tend to glamorize entrepreneurship, so I grew up thinking that I would see instant success if I started my own business.
But all we see is a facade, rarely delving behind the scenes to witness the literal blood, sweat and tears that happen behind closed doors.
The tireless, sleepless, restless nights tossing and turning hoping that tomorrow is a better day. Realizing that Rome wasn’t built in a day is hard. Success rarely happens overnight, and today’s pay was from the hard work that has compounded over the previous months and years. Often, success takes time and lightning won’t strike. There are a lot of reasons new businesses fail, such as starting on a shoestring budget, poor planning, arrogance, inferior products, and burnout just to touch on a few. The burnout factor is definitely one I have been fighting off regularly.
There are two types of burnout I deal with on a regular basis: physical and emotional. Physically, the food truck is demanding. Being on my feet for 12+ hours a day during the summer is especially difficult, and my running has suffered as a result. I am usually walking around in pain now. Staying healthy is harder than it’s ever been.
When times are busy (great for business), six hours of sleep is a good night. I remember a music festival where I slept no more than 8 hours in 4 days (I wish I was exaggerating). Two of the nights I didn’t even go to sleep and one of the nights I slept for two hours. The grueling efforts like that are what make me look back and ask if it is worth it.
Then there is the emotional burnout. Most people like our food. I believe we have a very good product and I am proud of it. This wasn’t always the case. In a former blog post, I mention how little I knew about cooking at the start. We didn’t have the highest quality of product, and hearing bad reviews drove me crazy. I couldn’t read our reviews on yelp when we first started. I couldn’t stand the fact that people weren’t crazy about something I put my heart and soul into. As the owner of a business, a poor review about you is devastating. It really puts cyber bullying into perspective.
It can also be extremely difficult to handle sensitive employee situations. I’ve unfortunately had to fire employees. I’ve also had great ones move on to new positions, and while I’m thrilled for them, the back of my mind is screaming how will I replace them? The mind moves fast. The worries of tomorrow, next week, and next month keep me up while a long day makes me want to sleep. For businesses, tomorrow is never guaranteed. You learn to live in the moment and never over-celebrate a good day.
More Than Just a Food Truck
Being a small business has meant taking on all the recurring, behind-the-scenes work myself. At times, it is very unsustainable. Without an expansive budget, I don’t have a full staff. I outsource some legal or accounting questions, but do the majority of all the administrative work myself. I keep my own books, run my own social media, book events, so on and so forth. These tasks require time and sacrifice. You won’t find me at a bar wasting money on alcohol. My dating life has been pretty nonexistent. I’ve missed weddings, birthdays, and had less days off in the last year than fingers on hands. Seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, and time keeps ticking. Emotionally and physically, it has been the toughest thing I’ve ever done.
Luke Bryan has a song I really like titled “Most People Are Good.” One of my favorite lines in the song goes as follows:
“I believe youth is spent well on the young
‘Cause wisdom in your teens would be a lot less fun.”
Luckily, at 25 I had no idea what it took to operate a business or I probably would have never started. Here’s to another sleepless, tired year of making the dreams come true.