Let’s Get Real About Capacity & Burnout

I wanted to share some insight into one of the reasons that I started Bookwiz Academy. Over the 22 years I have spent in the industry – working, training, mentoring and advocating, I keep seeing the same thing… 

Strong, intelligent, and capable business owners struggling to keep their head above water, wondering if they’ve bitten off more than they could chew, floundering to find balance between work and in life, and completely lost as to what to do next.

And when I sit down with these people, I recognise a common pattern – that the overwhelm, stress and anxiety tends to stem from the same thing – capacity issues. It is something that I continue to see across online group and forums, at industry events, and in the conversations that I have with my Bookwiz Academy members.

Some don’t realise that a capacity issue is at the root of their problems, and others know, though aren’t sure how to address it.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? 

  • You’re working evenings and weekends to stay on top of things.
  • You don’t have time to work ON your business.
  • Your own books are behind, and you don’t know your own numbers.
  • You start to dread end of quarter, knowing you have a mountain of quarterly work and lodgements to wade through.
  • You have thought about bringing in someone else in to help but feel you don’t have time to recruit and train, OR – you have managed to bring someone on, but are not effectively delegating.
  • You’re lying in bed at night worrying about how you are going to get through it all.
  • You’re finding it difficult to make decisions about your business and the best way forward.
  • Your mental and physical health and well-being is suffering.
  • Your stress levels are affecting how you interact with family and friends, and how you live your life in general.

If you are sitting there nodding your head, I want to make sure that you know one important thing.

You are not alone. You are not a failure. And there is a way out. (Ok – that’s three important things!)

Let me share with you my own personal experience…. 

This actually goes back quite a few years, in my first decade in the industry. I had way too many clients, and whilst I had a great team, I wasn’t using them effectively or delegating properly. I also…

·      Thought ‘bigger was better’ in terms of client numbers, even if they were D-class.

·      Didn’t know how to say ‘no’ or set expectations and boundaries.

·      Kept taking on more and more clients, regardless of their true value.

·      Let clients dictate how I worked with them (say hello to unreasonable requests, expectations, and timelines, and zero boundaries). 

I often found myself working till 1 or 2am, and across the weekends. As soon as the kids went to bed, I was back in front of my computer trying to stay on top of everything. I was on call 24/7. 

I remember sitting in my office in the middle of the night, in the lead up to Christmas, looking at the piles of work around me and just crying because I was completely overwhelmed and exhausted with the workload in front of me (not to mention the Christmas shopping and expectations looming).

I had been working this way for such a long time that I had convinced myself it was normal. I knew I was tired, and I wasn’t feeling well, though I just kept pushing through. 

 I was overriding all the signals my mind and body were giving me for quite a while, until I felt so unwell that I woke up one morning and booked a doctor’s appointment for later that day – I had to visit a client first (again, ignoring the signs).

 I remember sitting at that client’s office and feeling my heart start to race. I felt I couldn’t get air into my lungs, and I was extremely giddy. Still in denial – I pushed it aside thinking it was the flu, until it escalated to the point that left the client and headed straight to the Doctor – earlier than my agreed appointment.  

 By the time I walked into my doctor’s office, I was gasping for air and felt I was going to faint. My heart was racing, and I was covered in huge red welts. The nurse thought that I could have been having a heart attack, so an ambulance was called, they hooked me up to a monitor and called my husband.

 Thankfully it wasn’t a heart attack. It was, however, a massive cry for help from my stressed out, overwhelmed, completely ignored body and mind. My body had had enough, though I hadn’t been listening! I had just kept going on and on, pushing past the fatigue, the stress and overwhelm, until eventually my body physically could not cope, so it made me stop. 

 It was terrifying, though it sure was an effective way to send the message that I needed to make some changes.

Now, I don’t think you will be surprised to know that at this point in time, I was not getting any joy out of my business. In fact, I resented it. And I resented my clients. I was ready to hang up the towel and go back into the workforce.

But, deep down, I knew that I was in this position for a reason. And that I could get myself out of it.

So, this is what I did instead: 

  • I went back to the drawing board and assessed my entire business – my clients, my team, my capacity, and my ‘why’.
  • I put on extra team members.
  • I taught myself to delegate properly and put systems in place to keep me accountable.
  • I said goodbye to D Class clients.
  • I identified the expectations and boundaries that I needed to have in place with my clients and communicated these clearly and consistently (including updating my letters of engagement, communication channels, and workflows).
  • I updated my Ideal Client Profile – setting out exactly who I wanted to work with and started saying NO to anyone who was not a fit.
  • I committed to set hours of work – no more working weekends and nights, and I put systems in place to help me stick to it.
  • I took back control!

It did take a big change in mindset and some time, and there have been occasions where I have felt myself slipping back to my old ways. So, I continue to review and reset as needed. Though these days – I listen to those warning signs!

This month I am sharing with my Bookwiz Academy members the steps they can take to identify and manage capacity and overwhelm within their businesses, including: 

  • Understanding and managing capacity
  • Knowing when to employ and how to delegate (before you are too busy to have the time!)
  • Managing stress and overwhelm
  • Knowing when to say NO (and learning how to say it)
  • Setting and managing expectations and boundaries with your clients

This is such an important topic! I hear so many stories about Bookkeepers and Accountants who are stressed out, time poor, and struggling to enjoy their business.

If this is you, check out Bookwiz Academy  and the resources our members have access to.

I can’t wait to show you to maintain balance, and, how to take back the power so that YOU control your business, rather than it (and your clients) controlling you!

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