How I f*cked up by not following my own business advice: a burnout story

One of the most common topics that comes up in coaching and consultant circles is how easy it is to offer advice to people while simultaneously failing to follow it yourself.

At the end of June I hit a wall that I now recognise as burnout, and one of the symptoms was a massive crisis of confidence in my business. I retreated in to myself and started avoiding any perceived risk or potential knock-back, and in doing so I realised I was doing all the things I tell my small business clients not to do.

Most significantly, I was relying way too much on social media.

Instagram is my comfort zone, it’s been my virtual break room over the last few years, where I’ve gone to chat with my new mates in between nappy changes, blog posts, coaching sessions, nursery pickups, client meetings and play dates.

And I’ve slowly realised that when I’m feeling particularly vulnerable, personally or professionally, and I am trying to avoid putting myself out there, I retreat further in to this safe zone and expect to be able to conduct my entire life and business from in there.

But Instagram isn’t, and has never been, where I get most of my clients from. I get a few, but certainly not a majority. So why on earth would I be focusing all of my marketing activity there? Because it was easier, and felt safer.

But that’s rubbish, useless strategy, in fact it’s not strategy, it’s the opposite of strategy. It’s mindlessly putting out content without intention and direction behind it, which wastes money and wastes time, and one of the pillars my small business coaching is to stop that cycle when they could be effectively growing their brand with a more holistic, big-picture approach.

This is a direct quote from my course The Complete Guide to Building an Awesome Brand & Marketing the Sh*t Out Of It:

“Contrary to a lot of businesses’ expectation, social media isn’t necessarily going to lead to direct sales, and that’s fine! Social media should be considered more about brand building; encouraging people to love your brand so that they want to buy from you eventually.”

And yet, I launched this exact course, solely using paid and organic social media marketing and expected it to work. I didn’t combine it with a print campaign, with influencer marketing, with community engagement, events and networking; I just blindly posted on social media and was disappointed when I didn’t hit my targets.

So I took a step back and did what I should’ve done before. I sat down with a notebook and pen and, using the same advice I give my clients, crafted a plan for the next few months to create great content and build a brand and a product that my customers love.

This isn’t a thinly veiled ad for my coaching, this is me letting you know that even me – who earns a living helping business owners get focus and direction – sometimes get completely lost and confused about what to do next, and it doesn’t make you not cut out for this, it doesn’t make you a failure, it just means you’ve got to figure out who or what can help you get back on track.

(Although, if you are interested in my coaching – and I speak from experience now! – it might be just the thing to get you off Instagram and on to building the business you want!)

So with some decent strategy in place, and some intense self-care to recover from the burnout, I’m slowly feeling like I’m moving in the right direction again. I’ve also found real value and community in small business groups on Facebook, so I’ll share my favourites with you here. It can really make a difference to have peers – whether that’s in a Facebook group or in a networking coffee morning local to you – who can support you, inspire you and keep you accountable.


The Brand Un-Muddlers

Doing It For the Kids

Mummy’s Got Clients

Mama’s on a Mission

What’s your experience of burnout? How did it effect your business / work? Any tips to recover or prevent it?