The Best Way to Avoid Burnout

Eric Gilbert-Williams did little other than work for seven years straight. How he got his life back on track and rediscovered his love for business

Written by Sissi Wang

There came a point when Eric Gilbert-Williams was working 109 hours a week. There was little time for sleep, a social life, or caring for his health—all the Calgary entrepreneur did was work.

It’s a state of being Gilbert-Williams says is all too typical for early-stage business owners. “The concept of time doesn’t really exist for business owners at the early stages, ” he explains. “Entrepreneurs have this attitude of €˜I can do anything,’ and “I’m gonna do it no matter how long it takes.'” While this mentality helps get things done, Gilbert-Williams admits it’s also what leads to burn outs and failures.

Gilbert-Williams is CEO of The Roof Hospital, which provides roofing inspection and repair services to residential houses. Founded in 2006, The Roof Hospital nabbed the #20 spot on the 2015 PROFIT 500 Ranking of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies.

For the first seven years of his business, Gilbert-Williams worked 70€“90 hours a week, doing everything from knocking on doors in search of leads, preparing marketing materials, putting shingles on roofs, and talking to governments. But in early 2012, something changed.

MORE EXTREME SCHEDULES: Try the Zero-Hour Work Week »

“It was a sense of not caring about my business anymore,” he recalls. “I stopped caring about the company, my employees and contracts€¦ The whole business would’ve disappeared if I didn’t bring in somebody to replace me.”

Recognizing the danger that his indifference posed to the business, Gilbert-Williams crafted an operations manual for a new general manager position.  The new hire, he hoped, would essentially replace him. Gilbert-Williams was able to find someone to fill his shoes, and worked beside beside the new general manager for seven months to ease the transition.

MORE OPERATIONAL ASSISTANCE: What a General Manager Could Do For You »

It worked. “I took a giant step away and started rebuilding my social life that I’d been neglecting for so long,” he says. “I got into hobbies that I enjoyed, which gave me excitement in life and motivation to keep on doing more business.”

Hiring the right person to work under him freed Gilbert-Williams up to recover his health and do the things he enjoys. Here’s how you can find a number two to delegate to.

Do your research

Gilbert-Williams recommends seeking the advice of a mentor, consultant, business coach, or business book before making a big hiring decision. “Work towards the move over a period of time instead of rushing into it,” he says. “Prepare as much as you can with the time you have.”

Trust your intuition

“Nothing is more valuable than your own gut instinct for business owners,” Gilbert-Williams emphasizes. “This is a critical thing for business owners to understand and to trust their own feelings. Ultimately, an expert you hire isn’t liable when your company folds because you made a poor decision by not trusting your gut.”

Craft a proper operations manual

“Whenever there’s a key position for hire in a company, business owners need to document what is it exactly this person needs to do and how,” says Gilbert-Williams, who provided his new general manager with training videos, tutorials, binders of checklists and spreadsheets.

An operations manual also serves as the barometer of a new recruit’s success and failure in the company, according to Gilbert-Williams. “It needs to be written 100 percent properly and to be followed properly as well.”


Have you faced burnout? What did you do to get back your passion for your business? Share your experiences using the comments section below.

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com