Top 20 Destroyers of Business Value # 12 – Losing the Eye of the Tiger: Entrepreneurial Burnout

Posted on October 17, 2012 · Posted in Blog

The rewards of starting a business, controlling your destiny, fulfilling a vision and a life-long dream drive most entrepreneurs to work hours on end.  To the entrepreneur, it’s not a job…it’s a passionate adventure.

Entrepreneurs create reality out of a vision and most often the main bridge to this gap is the energy, motivation and passion of the entrepreneur.  But what happens when the bridge is crossed, the company becomes larger and the keys to success change to administration, processes and controls?

In many cases after years of creating, growing and fulfilling a dream, the entrepreneur loses the “Eye of the Tiger.”  In my experience, this is not typically a fast process, but occurs slowly over time.  The joy of working a quiet Saturday morning or evening when the phones stop ringing turns into a burden and obligation.  A long weekend with an extra day off becomes preferred over the excitement of getting in the office early Monday morning.

Creating and building turn into HR issues, IRS deadlines, legal issues and constant administration.  What was once passionate leadership is now the resented management of issues and problems.  The late Harvard Medical School’s Harry Levinson and Founder of the Levinson Institute for Leadership researched this concept extensively.  His findings show how management resentment and burnout impacts the organization, employee performance and ultimately company value.

Unfortunately, we see many entrepreneurs begin the process of exiting their business well after the impacts of their personal emotional state and business value begin to decline.  We recently worked with the owner of a consulting company whose sales had decreased over 20% in the last year.  He confided that he was enjoying his discretionary time out of the office much more than using it to entertain clients, network and build the business.

He lost the “Eye of the Tiger” and there were many manifestations of this in his business including declining employee morale and increased turnover, loss of key customers, shareholder disputes and many other tangible and intangible impacts.

Entrepreneurs must be extremely cognizant and self-aware of this issue as it is often a “Slow Burn” that can have devastating consequences.  It’s ok to acknowledge that the joy and rewards of building the company are not found in administering and managing a company.  The earlier this is recognized and dealt with, the less company and emotional value will be destroyed.

Below are links to articles with Harry Levinson’s views on the topic.  Take some time to understand this before you begin to destroy value that took so much time and energy to build.

http://wweb.uta.edu/management/Dr.Quick/spring2012/When%20executives%20burn%20out.pdf

http://www.leader.co.za/infocentrearticle.aspx?s=5&c=135&a=1407&p=2

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