How to recharge, and fire up again, when you’re feeling startup burnout

- December 31, 2021 3 MIN READ
Photo: AdobeStock
After an enormous year and looking back to take stock of all that you’ve worked towards, it’s common for startup founders to ask themselves if the entrepreneurial journey is even really worth it. 

The last 12 months may have left you feeling flat for a number of reasons, but just like your most important relationships, your startup needs deliberate care, and with the right strategies, you can stoke the fire and rediscover your passion again. 

Here are some big ideas to do exactly that:


Remind yourself of why you started  

The two biggest risks for any entrepreneur working towards something that matters to them is dropping out or burning out before they get there. 

If you are convinced your idea is going to work, but are losing your mojo, remind yourself (over and over and over again if necessary) why you started and what you are working for. Be specific with your answers for these questions. These will be the things that keep you going when you feel like dropping out, and help you manage your decisions better when you are at risk of burning out.

Dig deep and invest time into getting clear on these things. Passion matters, and the answers to the questions ‘why did I start’ and ‘what am I working for’ are the hottest burning fuels known to any entrepreneur.


Play a long-term game, to improve your short-term game

We all love a good ‘overnight success’ story. What’s not to love about getting everything you want as soon as you start?

The reality though is that while overnight success is possible, it is unlikely, and shouldn’t be used as a yardstick for whether you’re going to eventually succeed or not. Just because you haven’t made it yet, don’t think you’re not going to get there eventually.

Phill Nosworthy

The stress, pressure and false expectations for coming up fast will cripple high quality thinking, and in the end will almost certainly rob you of the results you are truly capable of. 

I once had a client, who knowing full well the stress that the rush for short-term results can bring, completely switched up his mindset and mapped out a 100-year plan for his business. Sounds crazy doesn’t it? But his quest was to build one of the world’s next great heritage clothing brands – and he figured that this can’t be rushed anyway.

So, he mapped out what decade one looks like, and then what decade two should be about and so on. He would always say that it was this process that has defined his brand and slowed him down in such a powerful way that it allowed him to run his business with clarity and precision. Thing is – after 7 years in business now, he is already into his sixth decade according to his plans!

The lesson? Move slow to go fast. Nothing is gained by trying to get everything done all at once. 

Rewrite your relationship with work 

We’ve all heard the old maxim, “Find something you love doing, and you’ll never work another day in your life”. But what an absolute load of bollocks that is.

Here’s something I believe to be a little closer to the truth; “Find something that you love, and strap in, because you are about to work harder than you’ve ever worked before”.

Why? Because you love it and because it matters to you and because it is a reflection of who you are. I’ve found that when you really find something that you love, you will give it everything you’ve got. Literally. 

So don’t be fooled – this journey you are on is going to be hard. There are going to be days that really shake and challenge you. Be ready for those and remember that you are up to this challenge. 

Hard work pays off.


Make it about something more than money

Money is not always the most powerful motivator for an entrepreneur. Sure, it is a huge part of why we work, but you’ve got to find reasons for your efforts that go beyond cash.

Soul satisfying and meaningful work – the kind that sets your heart on fire – is always going to be a combination of these three things:

Contributions: When your work is connected to something bigger than you, it will drive and inspire you and your teams to keep going even when times get tough. Ask yourself, who are we giving to? And how does my work contribute to the needs and goals of others? 

Connections: WHO you work with and for, matters just as much, if not more, than WHAT you are working on. Double down on your professional relationships and connections to your tribe to elevate your passion for work. 

Challenges: If you’re losing your spark, you might need a new challenge. Lean into the most challenging parts of your work, and choose to see it as an opportunity to see what you are truly capable of, not just another unwelcome problem. It isn’t ease that you want, it is adventure – and growth and breakthrough come by proactively chasing the hard stuff. 

  • Phill Nosworthy is an executive advisor and keynote speaker. His insights into personal mastery and career acceleration have led him to work with the likes of Microsoft, Universal Music and CBA. His key subject areas are meaning, leadership and high performance.
2024 Startup Daily Best in Tech Awards - nominations open