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Avoiding Burnout While Scaling Your Business as a Woman Owner

Avoiding Burnout While Scaling Your Business as a Woman Owner

Dr. Givona Sandiford is a speech pathologist and CEO of Melospeech, Inc., a tech-enabled mobile speech therapy practice covering 5 regions.

My truth is that I sit in a room now where not many women sit. I am a Black woman who runs a 7-figure business with just under 40 employees, and I scaled to this point in less than 3 years. According to the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, around 90% of women-owned businesses operate without any employees (Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, 2023)​.  

How did I get here without burning myself out? Many will tell you when you first start a business, you wear every hat. The phone rings - you answer that. An email comes in - that's you too. Marketing emails - you. Funding requests - you. Oh, and if you are a service-based business, you will also provide the services. Sustaining a one-person show is next to impossible without burnout, and scaling is even more impossible, yet women are the ones who are doing this. 

The plain truth is, to scale a business, you have to hire. To hire, you have to be able to release. What do I mean by release? You need to be able to release the duties that you have been holding onto and trust others to do those duties for you. Every task that you now do, from answering your own emails and phone calls to scheduling a meeting, needs to be eventually handled by someone else, or you will get tired. It might not happen right away. For some, it takes a few months to burn out; for others, it might be years, but one day you won't be able to handle the load. That's what retirement is for, right? But wait, how will you be able to retire if you haven't passed on your duties to others?  

Eventually, even the service of working with clients 1:1 will need to be passed to others so that you can work on expansion planning. As the brains behind your business, you will need to free up time to do this. The hardest part is the release. I found out the hard way that by trying to hold on to tasks that I wasn't actually loving and certainly wasn't the best at, I was actually bottlenecking things and slowing down processes. Hiring was the last task I released. I wanted to meet everyone in my company. I wanted to choose them personally. But I just couldn't keep up with all of the applications, and we were turning away referrals because we could not hire fast enough. I turned the task over to my personal assistant, who quickly became adept at using the hiring rubric to choose individuals who met the established criteria. The truth is, to sit in that room where mostly men sit - that is, to be a company that scales with a full team and not just a solopreneur - you have to release to others. By relinquishing control over every aspect of your business, you will not only avoid burnout - allowing more time and space for you and your family - but also empower your employees, foster a culture of trust and responsibility, and ensure the sustainability of your business.

Once you have released every aspect of your business to others you shouldn't stop there!  Rachel Rogers in her Hello7 program changed my life with this recommendation.  Releasing everyday duties such as laundry, cleaning, and even childcare as appropriate is an amazing way to find time for that creative place where the best ideas thrive - in that place where you are not tired, stressed, and burned out.  

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