Avoiding Small Business Burnout

Running a business can lead to a very demanding lifestyle. There are numerous considerations to think about and that often leads to business owners becoming tired. This is not uncommon. The trouble starts when you’ve become so tired that you burn out.

This can have a major impact upon your business and be disastrous on your long term career prospects.

What Is Small Business Burnout?

A little stress in our lives is good for us and can help us to become innovative. But too much and for too long will make you feel overwhelmed and unable to meet demands. Burnout occurs when you’ve been under excessive stress for a protracted length of time.

The longer that you are suffering from high levels of stress, the less motivated you will feel at doing basic tasks. Research has concluded that those who are under particularly high levels of stress will stop eating. Often, those suffering from burnout will also complain of muscle and joint pain, especially in their lower back and neck.

While at work, your productivity will reduce, quality will deteriorate and you may show signs of being:

  • Helpless
  • Resentful
  • Cynical

This can cause damage to your person life, alienating friends and family.

Considering that 90% of all businesses now fail, you don’t need another potential stumbling block. Therefore, avoiding burnout should be a top priority for anyone who is looking to have a long and successful business career.

Who Is At Risk Of Burnout?

Studies have concluded that there is a group of individuals who are more prone to burnouts. These people include those who:

  1. Are high performers or overachievers.
  2. In the first 10 years of a career.
  3. Are between 20 and 30 years of age.

It is also common that the person suffering from burnout will not recognise the signs until it is too late.

What Impact Can This Have On Your Business?

There are numerous negative effects burnout can have on your business. Firstly, as previously mentioned, productivity can decrease. This means that you are producing, and therefore earning, less.

Secondly, the quality of that work will also be poorer. This will result in a higher rejection rate that will push up costs. This can be a major issue. Without a steady production of high quality goods and services, your business will not retain customers.

Research has demonstrated that price has little to do with customer retention. Customer would rather stick with a supplier that provided them with quality customer service than chance another service provider that might give them poor experiences.

What Can Be Done About Burnout?

One of the major problems with burnout is that the solution is not as simple as clearing the next pile of work until the next project comes along. Those with burnout are often working 14 or 16 hour days without a chance to relax. Not getting away from the business doesn’t allow the mind or body to reset and therefore be creative.

Also solving the problem just by completing the next project does not solve the cause of the burnout, only push aside one symptom. The real cause is that you are taking on too much work.

At the same time, the amount of work your company produces is necessary for its stability, growth and your lifestyle. So rejecting work from clients might not be the best option.

Instead, one of the best solutions is to limit your workload. There are several quick solutions that can offer limited relief. For instance, you could limit the times that emails are sent to your inbox, say no contract between 7pm and 7am. This might help you stop working into the late hours after an email has arrived into your inbox.

Secondly, you can enforce at least one day when you aren’t available at all. The most obvious day for business to business owners is Sunday. However if you are a retailer, this might be your busiest day, but you could take another day off.

Thirdly, you can schedule in work properly. Use scheduling tools to write in when work should be done and how long it should take. For instance, task one is done on Monday between 9 am and 10 am and task two is done between 10 am and 12noon. This structure will make you realise when projects are taking too long to complete and allows you to restructure processes to become more time efficient.

These solutions on their own will not help you in the long term and will only make you feel better in the immediate future. However, there are other activities you can do that can help you achieve a better work-life balance.

Getting Help

One of the biggest causes for small business burnout is that there is too much work for you to do. The simple solution to permanent fix this is to simply remove tasks from your list. But just because you have removed tasks from your list does not mean the task is going to go away – they will still need to be done.

Therefore, you’ll have to find a way for the tasks to be completed. A common solution is to automate tasks. One area that is often automated is social media. There are many programs available that can help you automate your social media accounts. However, there are concerns that just being automated will provide you with a poor return on your investments or could provide you with the wrong content.

Instead, you should look at outsourcing some of the tasks, such as your website management and online marketing. These are particularly good tasks to outsource for several reasons. These reasons include:

Expert Access To Knowledge And Skills

You manage an organisation because you are an expert in your business’ niche. While it is not impossible to be good at social media and website management, you are unlikely to be an expert. Those who provide digital marketing support are experts in their field and therefore can deliver better results for the same budget, if not less.

Research has found that UK companies have wasted £2 billion in implementing digital marketing campaigns without the proper skills. In America, a lack of digital marketing skills has resulted in employees taking 20% longer to complete tasks than professionally trained individuals would.

An example would be writing content for your site. The average typing speed is 40 words per minute. However, a professional writer can create content at 80-100 words per minute. They will also have the knowledge of what content your target audience is likely to prefer and react to. This all leads to a quicker and more effective delivery of content.

Lower Costs

Many digital marketers have access to software and equipment that is expensive when it is purchased for just one account. When the costs are spread over numerous accounts (clients) the price becomes more affordable and digital marketers pass those cost savings on to you. They’ll also include those costs within their proposal, so you don’t have to worry about paying additionally for them.

Some costs which could be reduced include:

  • Images – these are highly expensive and many small and medium businesses often fall into the trap of using images that are protected under copyright laws. Many digital marketing companies will have accounts with the big image providers and will offer to supply images as part of the package.
  • Automation software – while there are some dangers to automation, it can also be a useful tool in the right hands. However, the best automation software for certain activities like social media can be expensive to buy.
  • Website hosting – Some website companies will be able to offer you web hosting at a cheaper price than if you were to look to deal directly with a hosting company. This is because they bulk buy space on servers to use for their clients. The trouble with this is that sometimes being on a shared server can slow your site down and that can affect your bottom line.


One thing that is certainly going to cause stress is when something goes wrong – for instance, your website going offline for a short period of time. If you hired a professional marketing company to manage all your website and online marketing concerns, they’ll be able to quickly identify the problem and find a solution.

Without an outsource partner, what is likely to happen is that you will spend significant amounts of time trying to find and solve the problem. Every moment there is a problem on your website, you are losing money. This can be a huge concern if you rely on website sales.

It Prevents Trouble

There are digital marketing laws that are often not reported sufficiently to stop small businesses from making mistakes. In some cases, these mistakes can cost the business thousands, if not more. A professional digital marketing organisation will know what the legal responsibility of your company is.

They will also help you to perform white hat marketing. This is a strategy where you are using ethically accepted techniques to grow awareness of your business. Many businesses find themselves removed from Google rankings because they have used black hat (unethical) SEO techniques.

Another example would be content writing. It used to be the practice that content was generated by small businesses by copying content from one site and perhaps changing a few words to make it pass a plagiarism checker.

However, under many terms and conditions on websites, this is not legally or socially acceptable and could end up with the company infringing on the copyright to be sued. Any professional marketing business would not endorse this style of marketing.

They Can Help Other Business Areas

While online marketing and website providers will only provide support for your marketing needs, they are likely to be run by highly experienced business leaders. These individuals will likely be very helpful if you had other questions that were outside of the marketing realm.

For instance, you might want to look for some good accounting software or service provider. A good marketing company might have a couple of relevant clients on their books or they have another recommended provider.

This means you could solve problems in other areas of your business by having a single contact.

They’ll Know Changes In The Industry Before You

A final benefit of outsourcing your online marketing efforts is that you are getting access to someone who will keep up with the latest developments within the industry. This frees up your time from keeping on top of these developments and provides you with reassurance that you will generate a professional and modern profile.

For instance, there are numerous changes to website design best practices every year. A website manager will know when your website needs to be adjusted to keep up with those demands and be more successful in the market.

Another example would be the recent Google update that focused on rewarding companies who had a mobile ready website.


Your business’ success relies on you not being too stressed and burning out. If you do burn out, then your productivity and quality of work will suffer. It can be hard to get out of the downward spiral of stress; however, you can start by being organised and limiting the amount of time you are working on the business.

Another step would be to outsource some of the business functions to external experts. Such functions include your website management and online marketing. This will help you tap into expert knowledge and skills while you benefit from a greater return on investment than you could expect.

Experts will also help you avoid making mistakes that you might not realise break digital marketing laws or are socially unacceptable.

Choosing a digital marketing expert is a tough task. You need a team of experts who are qualified and have a proven track record of delivering results to clients. That is why Heroic should be one of the companies you consider. We have a track record of promoting businesses through our top of the range designed websites and expert content and social media marketing campaigns.

We’ve even partnered up with some of the best providers to deliver other services such as video production.

So contact us today about your digital marketing needs to see how we can help you grow your business online.

Why Interaction Rate is More Important than Views

One of the biggest mistakes that small businesses make is that they don’t understand that they shouldn’t be focusing on followers, fans or views. These statistics are practically worthless in a world where the majority of web users are quick to abandon web pages and social media content.

Instead there are other statistics and important metrics that need to be considered. These statistics are about interaction rather than simply viewing and these statistics can be so much more powerful.

What Is Interaction?

Interaction is when someone actually looks at your published material and then takes action to engage with it. The interaction could be something like sharing, commenting or accepting an offer. There are different levels of interaction: low, medium and high.

While it is preferable to always have high interactions, low and medium interactions are also important. Here are examples of each level of interaction:

Low: liking a post.

Medium: commenting on a post.

High: clicking on a call to action.

Low and medium interactions are what spread your content to the followers and fans of the engaged member. The call to action does not do this, but it does give you a solid lead. However, a single person can actually interact with your content at all three levels in quick succession. This is the most beneficial but it is very rare.

Why Aren’t Businesses Concentrating On Interaction?

The main reason why most businesses don’t concentrate on interaction is because they are too fixated on the number of followers they have.

This lack of concentration on interaction is because for much of the past, marketing has been about getting messages out to the masses, hoping they retain the information long enough to act. When businesses were solely using advertising mediums such as television, print and radio – there was no way to engage interaction, therefore, their only focus was to reach as large an audience as possible.

However, with the rise of the internet and interactive marketing channels (blogs, social media, PPC and emails) you can now concentrate on the next stage of the cycle – the interaction. Getting the interaction rate high is more important because it leads to a measurable return on your investment. A campaign going viral boosts your businesses profile and often leads to greater website traffic.

At the same time, when people click on a call to action they are either placing an order or signing up to your email newsletter. Every new customer or subscriber increases the value of your business, giving you a real return on your investment.

But Doesn’t More Followers Mean Greater Interaction?

The more followers you have the greater the number of interactions you are likely to accumulate. Yet this is not always the best option for your business. In some cases it can be highly ineffective and expensive. For example, you could have a mailing list of 100,000 people and have 50 people click through to make a purchase.

While this looks positive, there are issues. The first is that sending an email to 100,000 people can be expensive. On MailChimp for example, this would cost about 0.2 cents each. So your campaign costs approximately $200 in total.

If you have a more highly engaged audience, then you can achieve far better results. For example, if you have a list of just 1,000 highly engaged and interested individuals and 50 of these make a purchase; your campaign will have cost nothing. This is because those businesses with less than 2000 subscribers and 12000 emails per month have free accounts.

Between the two campaigns, the return on investment (ROI) is far greater than in the second, smaller, more engaged group of subscribers.

What Interaction Rates Should I Be Looking For?

Many people believe that interaction rates have to be as high as 20 or 30%. Most businesses will struggle to achieve this. Instead you need to look at realistic interactions rates and try to improve them with good quality content.

The interaction rate also depends on the medium and your industry. For instance, email marketing for the hobby industry has a very high open (30%) and click through rate (5%) while those in coupon / daily deals have much lower results (14% and 2% respectively).

Interaction rates are also far lower on some social media channels. For example, Twitter has a very low interaction rate on average (less than 1%) while on LinkedIn you should expect about 5% for Pulse articles.

How Do You Calculate The Interaction Rate?

The interaction rate is calculated by taking the total number of interactions at all levels and dividing it by the number of views the piece of content has. This can be difficult to measure on Twitter as you can never be sure of how many users have actually seen the content – but for other social media channels this is far easier to calculate.

It is important to study what level of interaction you are getting. People who are not reading the full article, but are finding some of the content interesting are likely to share it. Those who have read it but haven’t found a call to action or anything else of interest are likely to comment and those who have clicked through have found your content highly engaging.

By monitoring trends in your audience’s reaction you can ascertain where improvements need to be made. However, one of the best ways to improve interactions (and the quality of them) is to stop talking about your business. Instead you should focus your efforts on:

  • Providing valuable lessons related to your audience.
  • Engaging in conversation with your target audience.
  • Sharing content from other influencers in your industry.

This will demonstrate your expertise and make you more approachable, friendly and trustworthy.


The number of followers, fans and subscribers has little value in the digital marketing age. Instead of paying attention to these vanity metrics, you should be looking at how your audience is reacting to the content you are publishing.

By improving interaction rates with a smaller, focused and highly engaged audience you can improve your ROI and ensure your business is seen as a market leader.

Automating Social Media

Social media is a powerful marketing tool for increasing the awareness of your brand.

It is not however, one of the best online sales avenues. That is why some businesses don’t place that much effort into their social media updates and instead automate their entire output.

This has caused some problems in the past. Tesco, the UK supermarket giant, had to make an apology and pay for expensive adverts to convey that apology when they inadvertently made a reference to horses on the same day as the horse meat scandal broke in the UK. This was highly embarrassing for the company. Investigations into how this happened found that the majority of Tesco social media campaigns were pre-programmed and these were not checked regularly for necessary changes.

Yet, manually entering in all you social media content can also be a mistake. This article looks at the advantages and disadvantages of automating your social media publishing and best practices.

The Advantages

There are many advantages of automating your social media content. The first advantage is that automation is a huge time saver and prevents you from becoming addicted to social media. When you use social media for too long, it does reduce your businesses productivity and possibly the quality of the work. Therefore, while some level of social media activity has been proven to increase your production levels, without automation you could end up using it too much.

Also, automation allows you to produce a significant amount of social media content output without having to randomly go online and interrupt other work. This can also allow you to ensure that no matter how busy you are, you will always publish content at the optimum times for your target audience while still being able to work efficiently. This should increase the number of interactions and responses you get from any social media update.

Another benefit for you to automate your social media output is that it is the ideal way to create content and then edit it. When content is created by artistic people they tend to get attached to what they create. This can be very good as passion can sell your products. However, passion can also blind content creators into not seeing mistakes that would be obvious to others.

Creating content prior to release and then scheduling it in allows for other members of the marketing or management team to review, edit and approve the content. This can be beneficial in other ways as well. Their input can help develop campaigns which are able to target your business’ ideal customers better.

The Disadvantages

Before we highlighted that social media can be addictive and automation can solve this. That is very true. However, social media automation can also be highly addictive. When you are using automation too much there is no personality or real time content produced.

What will happen is that users will start to see your streams as intrusive and this can damage your online reputation. A damaged online reputation can spiral out of control and cost your business significant amounts of money in public relation improvement programmes. When you are creating your automated content, be sure that you are limiting the amount you are publishing.

In relation to this, too many updates will leave no room for responses to customer queries, complaints or other third party updates that need your response. This can be damaging as a bad update about your brand can reach potentially thousands of eyes and reputation is one of the main purchasing influencers.

So always ensure that you have room in your schedule to check social media channels for direct or indirect references to your brand and space to respond.

As was seen in the Tesco incident mentioned above, automation also encourages you to create content and then leave it to be published. While the majority of the time this will okay, at times it can cause problems, especially if content is too close to recently released news articles.

It isn’t just Tesco that have fallen foul of this. Airlines have published updates about their premium services and timely flights on days when staff are on strike and the National Rifle Association has released updates about gun sales after mass shootings. While in some cases this is amusing, in many the humour is directed at the organisation and can damage reputations or the update is insensitive.

One of the biggest mistakes that can be made when automating social media updates is that they sound robotic. That is because automation is done en-masse and therefore, by the end of the creation process, the creativity you once possessed has gone and you just want to finish the work. This can be avoided by limited the number of updates you schedule in any one period.

Finally, scheduling messages means that you are tempted to create content that is similar for all social media networks. This is a cardinal sin as every network has a complex set of best practices. For instance, short content on Twitter is not often well received on Facebook.

What Is A Good Practice?

Automation can be good for your business; but only if you follow the best practices on the market. These guidelines are not universal as each brand will find their own strategy to reach their unique target audience. However, they are a good starting point from which you can experiment and develop your own successful campaigns.

A good practice would be to limit the scheduling to a weekly task and enter in no more than 20-35 messages at a time. This should allow you to complete the task within 15-20 minutes, not get bored and still be highly productive. It is also a level that when spread out over 7 days is good enough to maintain a presence online while leaving opportunities for real-time updates.

Also, you should maintain a regular review of content for errors and check the content could not embarrass the company should breaking news stories be released by the media.

Following these guidelines should help you reduce the time you are spending on social media and increase the return on investment that you make on social media.

How to Optimise Google+

Google+ is one of the latest and biggest social media channels available on the internet. It has the ability to propel your business up the search engine rankings so that when someone searches for something, it is your brand’s content they see first.

This is because Google owns the network and it wants to prioritise its own content. It is also because Google+ updates can be highly optimised for search engines and engagement.

Why Should You Use Google+?

While it is not the largest of the social media networks, the audience that regularly use the platform are often the decision makers at home and in the office. According to statistics, 28% of those using Google+ earn more than $60,000 per year. When more than half of American households are earning a combined income of less than $60,000, it demonstrates the main audience on the network are senior position holders. Therefore, you have a good concentration of most target markets and decision makers.

Research has shown that digital marketers have been slow to adopt Google+ with only 40% of all marketers using Google+. This offers your brand opportunity to be seen on a network which isn’t crowded like Twitter and Facebook. The more limelight your brand has, the greater the reward.

Finally, Google+ does have a priority spot on the Google search rankings, much like YouTube does. Therefore, you can have a poor performing website, but Google+ can draw in the crowds to improve results.

To get the most from the platform you must develop a Google+ strategy that will drive traffic to your brand’s site.

What Content Works Best On Google+?

The biggest issue with Google+ is that no-one really understands how they should use it. There hasn’t been much of a move to adopt Google+ and that has meant few have identified the best ways to create updates that convert well.

However, many social media gurus have experimented and found that users are particularly interested in images. The interest in images is even greater than in other networks like Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter but is comparable to Pinterest. Hashtags are also used differently on the social media network.

Formatting is also possible on Google+, so text can be bolded, be in italics and have a strikethrough. This isn’t the case on the majority of other social networks and gives a huge visual appeal to your content.

Above all else, Google+ depends on links. People don’t read content on Google+ and then abandon it; they want to learn more once they’ve consumed the original content. Therefore, think of Google+ as a starting point for a visitor journey rather than the entire journey.

How To Create The Perfect Update On Google+

There are several elements that make up the perfect Google+ update. Each of these steps needs to be implemented to get the most out of the social media network and for your content to reach the larger audiences.

Step One: Headline

On most networks the content you create is a blog title and link to some content. On Google+ it is much more than that. Each piece needs a heading and this can normally be the title of the content the update links to.

For example, the Google+ title for this piece would be: How To Optimise Your Google+ Updates

To make this standout more on the screen, you can bold the title. This is done with an (*) inserted at the beginning and the end of the title. So our title would look like this when we are creating the update:

*How To Optimise Your Google+ Updates*

And look like this when published.

How To Optimise Your Google+ Updates

Step Two: Subheading

Next, you need to create a sentence or two that explains what the content is about. For instance:

Learn how to optimise your Google+ updates to reach a greater audience.

This section should be placed in italics, which can be done using the (_) symbol before the first word and after the last word.

_ Learn how to optimise your Google+ updates to reach a greater audience._

This would be displayed as:

Learn how to optimise your Google+ updates to reach a greater audience.

Step Three: The Main Body

Then you need to create the main body. This is where you write a short abstract of the piece. This section needs to entice the audience to want to know more. This section could be two or three paragraphs, depending on how much you want to write. For example:

“Google+ is still a very young social media network and so few organisations have taken up the chance to use it, despite the obvious advantages. With so many decision makers on the social media network and a clear indication of what content they enjoy, there is an opportunity to claim a segment of your market and convert them into customers for your brand.

This article will give you a step by step guide how you can perfect your Google+ updates, so you can reach a significant proportion of your audience.”

Step Four: The Link

If you are trying to direct your audience to a blog post or page, publish the link with the post. Do this twice, once in the body of the message and another time in the share box contained below the main update creation box. This increases the number of people who click through to your main content.

Step Five: The Hashtags

In many other networks you should include the hashtags throughout the content. This is not the case in Google+. Instead you write two or three of them at the bottom of the update. These hashtags should be the terms you want people to use to find your content. For example: #socialmediamarketing and #socialmedia

Step Six: The Image

Finally, you need to upload a strong image that will illustrate exactly what your content is about. If you are advertising a link, this is normally done for you by automatically taking an image from the page you are advertising. Otherwise, you’ll need to do this yourself.

Now you have created a fully optimised Google+ update.


Google+ is still trying to find its feet on the social media landscape; however, many of those users on Google+ are decision makers looking to consume high quality content. Use this guide to create the best Google+ content and see your audiences’ engagement improve. The more engagement, the more leads you will have and the better ROI from your social media marketing campaigns.