“I wasn’t afraid to say no”: an entrepreneur’s guide to avoiding burnout

Dan Doromal shares his tips to building a successful business without blowing your mental health.

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In the pursuit of business success, it’s common for many young entrepreneurs to feel like they’re teetering on the edge of an abyss. They understand that success takes a lot of work, and that you need to be prepared to make sacrifices. But they also need to know that burnout is a real risk that can strike at any time, endangering not only their businesses but also their mental health.

As someone who has worked hard to build a business from the ground up, I know this precarious work-life balance all too well. We all want to succeed. But if we’re not careful, the siren song of success can quickly lead us to crash on the rocks of our own ambitions. To avoid that possibility, I hope to share some tips I’ve picked up over the years on how a young entrepreneur can build resilience for the long road ahead. 

Relish the little victories

Building a business takes a lot of time, effort, and dedication. So much so that it’s easy to get stuck in a constant hustle mindset where you just keep pushing yourself until you can’t push anymore. That’s where burnout can take hold and, believe me, it can sneak up on you very quickly.

This is why it’s so important to relish in the little victories, the times when you’ve had a good month, closed a big sales order, or reached a personal goal. Too many young entrepreneurs fail to do this, perhaps because they’re afraid of counting their chickens too early. But I think I can confidently say that success in any business is built on those little victories, so appreciate them when they come, maybe by opening a bottle of wine, going out for dinner, or taking the weekend off. You’ll be glad you did. 

Don’t dwell on your failures

Something I’ve noticed with all successful entrepreneurs is that they don’t berate themselves when they fail or suffer a setback. Let’s say you didn’t accomplish a personal goal to make your first $100k by the end of the year. Instead of being upset with yourself, try to look at things from a more analytical perspective. Look back at the decisions you made in the year to determine what helped, what didn’t, and how you can do better while moving forward. That’s a far more positive way to deal with failures. 

And, speaking from experience, I can tell you that every entrepreneur needs to allow themselves to fail from time to time because that’s how you learn. As the old saying goes, the road to success is paved with failures. The important thing is to embrace and learn from those failures. And, hey, if you’re not failing, you’re not trying, right? So think of each failure as bringing you that much closer to success. 

Prepare for your worst day

Speaking of failures, there will come a time when you have the worst day imaginable. It could be a sudden economic downturn, a key team member resigning, a major client terminating their contract, or a disruptive industry shift that upends your entire business model. That’s a scary thought and if you aren’t ready for those business lows, they can take a severe toll on your emotional wellbeing.

So, take what steps you can to prepare for those moments. Have a financial cushion for emergencies, a backup plan for key personnel, and strategies for diversifying or pivoting your business model when necessary. While it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to plan for every possible scenario, having a process for crisis management planning will provide some sense of control in challenging times. 

Be passionate about what you do

Whatever it is you choose to do, make sure it’s something you actually want to do. I really can’t overstate the importance of this. Too often, beginner entrepreneurs embark on a business venture solely because it appears lucrative or trendy. They see success stories on social media and think they can easily replicate that success. But what they don’t see is the hard work and numerous setbacks that lie behind every successful business venture. Passion is what will drive you through those difficult moments.

Adding to that, passion is not a one-size-fits-all concept. What fascinates and motivates one person might not resonate with another. The key is to identify what truly excites you and drives you toward success. Once you know what that is, commit yourself to being the best at it.  

Don’t be afraid to say “No”

It’s okay to say “No” when you can’t fulfill a sales order. A lot of people forget this, especially when they’re just starting out. They stress about not getting enough business and take on whatever comes their way, regardless of whether they have the bandwidth to fulfill the order.  Then they drive themselves and their teams crazy trying – and failing – to deliver. 

But the reality is that you can control this. You can say “No, not right now,” or “I’m not available,” when you aren’t confident you can meet a customer’s expectations. If your product is worth it and people can see the value behind it, then customers will be prepared to wait.

To give an example of this, my company recently approached a new vending machine manufacturer. We wanted them because they were one of the largest in the world and they told us, “No, we’re not ready for the volume you need just yet.” They essentially said no to a deal that would have made them millions of dollars and I respected them much more for that. The point is, know your limitations. 

Final thoughts

The path to entrepreneurial success is not a straight line, it’s a winding road with twists and turns. Keep that in mind as you grow your business. And, when the pressure does start to build and you feel like you’re about to burn out, remember these tips. They may just keep you on the path to success.

Dan Doromal headshot
Dan Doromal, - Co-Owner and Vice President for Everest Ice and Water Systems,

Dan Doromal has been instrumental in helping his company climb to the top in reputation, earning a number of prestigious awards ranking Everest as one of the fastest-growing and best-performing companies in the country. Under Dan’s leadership, Everest continues to set, meet, and exceed ambitious goals for growth in all arenas - sales, size, performance, and more.

Everest Ice and Water Systems,
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