In the Trenches: Burning Out

BrettSnyder by Brett Snyder on January 26, 2011

I was on the road last week, and it pushed me to my limits. I can’t imagine I’m the only one who hits a breaking point and seriously ponders throwing everything away to go live on some remote desert island, right? Burnout is a huge threat in a small business, especially one where the founder dominates. And I was starting to feel it.

This air travel assistance business wouldn’t exist were it not for my blog about the airlines. After building up a tremendous following, it made launching the related assistance business an easy transition. Though they fit together well, they sometimes come into conflict. Last week I was traveling with an airline for material for the blog. It was a trip that had been in the planning stages for a long time, and the time had finally come. But being on long flights and in foreign countries makes being on call for the assistance business difficult.

On the 10 hour flight to London, I found myself anxiously thinking about all the issues that could pop up when I wasn’t available to be reached. Once I landed, I breathed a sigh of relief that nothing urgent had occurred, but I still had a ton of work to do and responses to send to incoming emails. The next few days were a blur. I had no downtime planned because of the short nature of the trip, and I was forced to respond to email when I could find a quick break in between sessions or while in transit. It didn’t take long for me to develop a cold as well. When I got home a mere five days after I left, I was run down and just completely exhausted. I was feeling burned out.

Though the idea of retiring to Hawaii sounded perfect, it was nothing more than a short-lived fantasy. But I was burning out. Having worked nonstop on this business for more than a year, it had abruptly become clear that I needed to take some kind of a break to recharge. I realize this sounds funny, but I went right back to work trying to figure out how to best make that happen. Now I’ve got a plan that I hope will prevent me from ripping my hair out. I’ll talk more about it next week.


Brett Snyder is President and Chief Airline Dork of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. Snyder previously worked for several airlines, including America West and United, before leaving to create a travel search site for Snyder did his undergrad at George Washington and earned his MBA from Stanford.