Business burnout can happen at any level. Whether you need a minute away, a day away, or you’re ready to shut the whole thing down entirely… there are lessons you can learn at every step of the way.
Megan Brame burned out in her business, and she knows exactly what it looks like to run a surface-successful business while burning out behind the scenes. She’ll show us exactly what it looks like to burn out, how you can prevent it, and what steps to take if you’re already there.
Check out Megan's Advanced Instagram Course, GramCrackers, which will help you utilize social media platforms like Instagram and turn it into a money machine.
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Alyson Lex 0:01
burnout in business is a real thing. And it can look like a lot of different things. And it can happen in a lot of different ways. And there's even different levels that it can happen from just burning out for a few days to burning out and fizzling out entirely. And so what we wanted to do was bring Megan Braman, advanced digital marketing strategist on with us because she has experienced this. And she's going to help us kind of navigate it, figure out what it looks like, and also how we can avoid it in our businesses in our lives, and still see success without that burnout. So Megan, thank you so much for being here with us today.
Megan Brame 0:44
I am so excited. Thank you for having me.
Alyson Lex 0:47
We are going to have so much fun, we were chatting before this, this recording, and we're going to have a good time today.
Jennie Wright 0:54
We almost had like a little mini therapy session before we actually started the recording. And that was probably really cool. So yeah,
Megan Brame 1:02
we're pretty much best friends now is just what's happening. It's really what it is.
Jennie Wright 1:07
There was mentioned Not gonna lie about the YouTube coming up to Canada and spending some time up here. And that I would be your you know, I would be your Canadian person and I'm good with that.
Megan Brame 1:19
header like me.
Alyson Lex 1:21
She already is my emotional support Canadian. So it can you get her on a plane with that. I need a letter from a doctor. Um,
Megan Brame 1:32
Jenny, you're getting a vest, congratulations,
Jennie Wright 1:34
I hope is one of one of those events. They're
Megan Brame 1:36
cool, they have pockets. Don't tell Jenny, don't talk to Jenny, just like she is, um, she is working.
Alyson Lex 1:41
So clearly, this is gonna be a super fun episode, even though we're talking about something that's kind of heavy and has affected a lot of business owners, even if we don't talk about it. So we're really just kind of breaking the silence and being really real and raw today. I want to start out by talking about what burnout really is and what it looks like.
Megan Brame 2:06
It's Unfortunately, there's no, there's no Webster's definition of it, really. Because it's different for everyone. It's just about the stress that is inflicted consciously and subconsciously. And it just it to me what burnout looks like. And how we could define it is just when you have a come to Jesus with yourself about the pain that is self inflicted? That is unnecessary, if that makes sense.
Alyson Lex 2:43
It does. Because I think we push ourselves really hard. And for me, I've I've burned out a couple of times, and it's sometimes shows up physically. Yeah, I get sick, I get injured. I get to the point where I'm either sleeping too much or not sleeping enough. And it shows up in increased anxiety and depression that's uncontrolled by medication or anything like that. So I tend to burn out physically. But I think there are other ways you can burn out too, right? I'm a rage monster. Rage monster. I'm,
Megan Brame 3:21
excuse me, I'm
Jennie Wright 3:22
a burn out rage monster. I get burnt out, watch out. Because it's not pleasant at all.
Megan Brame 3:29
I'm a I'm a shut down or I will just say, Nope. Not doing anything. And then just, I don't know, play Animal Crossing or something for hours on end. Because I'm just like, I can't I can't look at this. I can't do this. And
Alyson Lex 3:44
yeah, yeah, that was me last year. It was on Animal Crossing all day. Yeah, we'll be fine. Don't worry.
Megan Brame 3:51
I need your code. Okay.
Alyson Lex 3:55
Oh, it does show up. It can show up physically. It can show up in a lack of motivation. It can show up in an emotional issue. Or, like you said, you can kind of recognize it and have that moment where you're realizing,
Megan Brame 4:09
right, definitely. Yeah, absolutely. And I think that I don't want to say your first burnout and make your listeners think like, Oh, god, this is just gonna be a never ending process. Like you, you do move out of burnout. But like you said, it can happen multiple times and it I see it as sort of this is gonna sound so pretentious, but I see it as like an evolution of the fight or flight response to the way that we live. And I think that it's sort of it's your brains way of protecting you from just doing permanent damage to your mind, your body, your emotions, your relationships, your finances. You know, it's Just like it, burnout, I think is a signal that this is the stop this is you can't go any further because going further, and even, you know, burnout will sometimes feel like there's no coming back from it, there's coming back from it. But to me, burnout is the signal that you can't go, there's just a wall here, and you will not go any further because this is too damaging.
Jennie Wright 5:28
I had burnout a couple times, and what how it manifested on my side was an incredibly high cortisol level. And it was nonstop. So it was that fight or flight, but it was a fight or flight at like an extreme, continuously long level, like long duration. And it was actually causing problems, not only physiologically like, you know, thyroid problems and this kind of stuff, but it was that manifestation. So I'd love to talk about the fact that burnt up, like I want to talk about how burnout can actually sneak up on you like you don't even know what's happening. And what are kind of some of the warning signs that people can look out for, so that it doesn't catch us off guard and we're not in a holy crap, I'm now playing Animal Crossing for a week straight.
Megan Brame 6:11
There's nothing wrong with playing Animal Crossing for now, so Okay, all right. So let me let me get my own experience with it. And hopefully, people can see the triggers before I did. So I was running a skincare company that was doing very well, it was an industry Darling, I had won five awards, my name was in the New York Times, like everything was just hunky dory from the outside. But on the inside, I was stressed, I would not let people into the business because I was afraid of opening up my books, I was afraid of just having them see the mess of internal structures that I did not have, you know, I was just going at it alone. And it was also hubris of I can do it, I can create the packaging, I can do the shipping, I can do the customer service, I can do the marketing, I don't need to hire people, I I can do this all myself. I can do the sales, I can do like, what, whatever I can do the website, you know, it was just all I can do it because I'm afraid. But I'm also going to say that it's because it'll be easier for me to do it. And another thing that I noticed later on, of course, was that it was an insecurity of people thinking that I wasn't, I had to be busy. I had to look busy. It felt good to me. I thought for people to say like, Oh my god, you did that all? And yeah, that sounds really great in the surface, but looking back or you're just like that all why, to what end, it wasn't for any other reason than insecurity. And my realization of I was burning myself out. And this company that I had built, had turned from a dream into a job I hated to go to every day was my husband said to me one day in our kitchen, you know, we're just talking about the day and how it went. And just talking about what I thought was just normal stuff. And he took a beat. And then he said, You know, it really doesn't sound like you're happy. And this is coming from a person who knows me better than anybody. You know, my husband and I have been together for 11 years now. And he knows. So that was a really big stopping moment for me of why does this person who knows me so well think I'm not happy? Am I not happy? Why am I not happy? And if I am happy? What is it that's making him think I'm not. And so it started to just kind of that thought started to fester in my head of what is it that I'm missing that someone else is seeing and that's when I started to realize I have dug myself into a hole of my own doing and I need to do something drastic to get out of it. And I ended up closing the business and walking away. I could have sold it but I was just like it was like a bad relationship. I just wanted out it didn't want it anymore. I my lease ran out on my my studio space. I like gave away all of my shelves and tables and it like I just wanted it done I wanted and I remember the day that I left my studio for the last time and I felt like I should it was empty, you know and I should like I should take one last look at it. Because that's what you're supposed to do and like that feels very I don't know your Medic. And so I looked back at it. And I was just like, yeah. And this is when I was living in Brooklyn, and we had a very long subway ride home. But I could have skipped to the subway from my studio, I was so happy. And I felt so like, in so I felt this level of closure that I didn't even know I needed. So the long, long answer to your question on how do you recognize and this is happening, sometimes you need somebody to tell you. And sometimes you need to do it. But sometimes you need to allow yourself to be fallible, and to say, I'm not omnipotent. I don't have all the answers, I'm hurting myself. None of this is working. And you have to let yourself have some grace with that. And I think that that's when when you put yourself through the gauntlet, and you come out, or you don't come out, you just keep going through the gauntlet and you just everything is starting to fall apart around you. And I think those are, that's the biggest sign is just no matter how hard you think you can fix this, or how hard you think you can work, things are starting to collapse. And people are telling you, it's collapsing. I think that that those are the biggest signs that you are on a dangerous path. And
Alyson Lex 11:39
I really like what you talked about. I mean, not that I like that story. I mean, you know, that's I'm sorry that that happened, and that you had to deal with that. I'm impressed with the decision that you made. Because I think that that's a really hard decision to make to just kind of blow up something that you've spent all this time building. And I think that's a problem that a lot of people deal with, is it's a pride thing. Well, and it's the sunk cost fallacy, right? Which I've spent so much time building this, I can't walk away now. Right? And I've spent so much money on this, I can't give up now I've wasted all that. And do you think you would have had any kind of similar feeling? Or it would have been as effective for you to take a piece of it away? Or to take to say, you know what, I'm gonna hire a manager to handle this instead? Like, do you think that it would have been as effective for you? And I know that that, you know, it's a very personal and subjective thing, but to not go to the extreme that you did?
Megan Brame 12:53
That's an excellent question. And one thing I wanted to add is that another thing that I ran into when I talk to other people about this is that they were afraid, what are other people going to think? If I close my business, they're gonna think I failed, and they're gonna think this, and they're gonna make fun of me or whatever. And what I always said was, they're not paying my Amex bill. I don't care. If people in my industry think like, oh, Megan failed, or omega equals your business and more market share for me, I don't care, I have to, I have my husband, I have my American Express card. Those are the things that matter. If you are not affecting either one of those, you don't your opinion, doesn't matter to me. And that was something that I had to, you would think that that would be something really hard. But that was actually one of the easiest parts for me of just like, I had this realization that I had to be pragmatic, and I had to understand that if I wanted a better life, for myself, for my family, for all of my businesses, whatever, I had to put myself first and not care about high school drama stuff, you know. So
I'm glad that it all happened, because I'm here now I get to talk to you guys. And it's like, I have my house I have, you know, all of the things that I have ever wanted to manifest have happened. So I'm on the path that I'm supposed to be on. But, you know, looking back objectively, if I was on Shark Tank or something like that, where I was saying, what could have been better what could have been fixed? Could I have hired a manager to make it better? I wouldn't have because I was afraid to spend the money. I didn't think there was money. So on the surface, probably if I had brought somebody in and gotten over the fear of letting someone see the disasterpiece Theater, that was my business Then, yeah, that probably would have, but I didn't have the heart for it anymore. And looking back at it is such the better decision, and I have no regrets about it. So I hope that answers the question, but it does sort of okay.
Jennie Wright 15:16
No, you do you do I have a supplementary sort of thing I want to ask you about specific to women. And I'm wondering what your thoughts are when it comes to women in this situation? How the difficulty of putting yourself first and having that conversation, a conversation, saying the only thing that matters is my husband and my Amex card like nothing else matters? Do you think that that is more of a struggle? on sort of the side of being a woman in that kind of case? Or no?
Megan Brame 15:45
Oh, absolutely, you are such a symbol, even if you don't realize it, even if you think that you are, no one's paying attention to you, or no one knows about your business, you, as a woman are representative of having it all. And, you know, the Liz lemon struggle is is real, it's very real of the societal pressure to be a good partner, a good relationship partner, and a good business person, and a good housewife, and a good, you know, parents and, you know, there's all of these Venn diagrams that women are supposed to fill. And so when you're an entrepreneur in that, too, you have that other bubble that has to be satisfied for you to have it all or to be fulfilled. And it's not fair. It's not fair. And some women might not feel that way, they might feel like, I want the challenge of having it all, or I want the I want the respect that comes with it or something like that. But what I have learned is that, that respect, never shows up, it's always another boss, you've got to fight in a video game, it's always another level. And what you have to learn, and sometimes this requires therapy is that your space, the space that you occupy, is enough. And it's amazing. It doesn't have to be what other people say it is. Because they don't live your life. They don't pay your MX bill. They don't live your life, they see. They see it through a lens that is unfair, it is a funhouse mirror. That isn't the truth, and isn't the whole picture. And so to put yourself up to unfair standards of as a woman, I have to be this and this and this and I have to be, I have to be a pretty entrepreneur, who has like, you know, the curls in her hair, and looks like an influencer and run it makes six figures every month and things like that. It's unfair, and it's not accurate. And it's, the more you're able to let thoughts like that in of my space, is my space, the more comfortable you are with whatever decision you have to pivot to block that path and start over again, completely to you know, whatever to keep going, the more comfortable you are in that space of I am me. I don't need their approval, I think makes it much more freeing.
Alyson Lex 18:44
I really, I mean, I agree with that. 100%. And one of the things that, I think, as women we we really strive for is this idea of balance. And I have to tell you, I have zero idea what that looks like. Because I've never actually I think achieved in my own business and my own life. And so I know that you've since since closing your skincare business, you now have another business and I'm sure you're much more intentional with that balance. So tell us what that looks like. Here's hoping.
Megan Brame 19:20
So I think that what that balance looks like is honestly I'm first coming to the realization that I do need help. And not just helping my business but help with a mindset. And so adding a therapist has been huge of just, you know, having those questions of who I am and what I'm okay with what my strengths are and what my weaknesses are. being okay with those weaknesses. You know, I think that that has been huge in giving myself permission to not be balanced all the time. I think that real balance it doesn't have to be relationship this It doesn't have to be that balanced, it can be whatever it is, that is a duality for you and your life. So if it's kids and business, if it's school and business, if it's job, and kids, you know, like, whatever, whatever these things are that push and pull you. To me, what I have learned is that balance is not having the scale, even the whole time. It's about recognizing that the scale moves, but it will move back. And the challenge that you have to recognize is that no one moves at scale, but you so you can be all about the business for a certain amount of time, like if you're in a launch, if you're in a startup is, you know, whatever. But you have to make a conscious effort to say, Okay, we have to tip the scale back now. And so what I like to do is have boundaries, I have boundaries. Now I have, you know, the door when the door shut in my office, my husband and I both work from home, like the door shut my office, I can't hang out, when I'm on a call, like the cats in the bathroom right now, because she wants to be here. See, there is I have to make the business a priority. But when I make let me let me rephrase that I have to make the business a priority. But I also make my relationship a priority. So the weekends are off limits, Friday nights, Saturday nights, I hang out with Steve. That's it. Like there's no I don't check my email, my phone is my phone's in the room, I'm not going to pretend I'm perfect about that. But the work email is off of my phone, like I cannot access anything. I focus on my marriage. And I focus on hanging out with my husband, and now that we have HBO max watching old movies. And you know, like, and that's it, that's enough. It doesn't have to be, you know, like, I'm terrible at dusting, I'm terrible at housekeeping. I'm like, and I'm okay with that. It doesn't have to be part of the balance. The two most important things to me, are my marriage and my business. When those balance, they're not 50%. But they swing back and forth. And that's what balance looks like to me.
Alyson Lex 22:36
So what are some steps that I can take to find that? I mean, obviously setting boundaries? I've got that, you know, but how can I get that balance going? How can I start?
Megan Brame 22:50
I think that you have to recognize what is important to you, and not what is important to others? What should be important, no, don't don't think what should be important. Think about what is actually important to you in your life in your space. Maybe it's not your relationship. And then that's a whole other conversation. But it like it, the more real you are about what it is you want to put effort towards, the more you're able to do it, you can't i can't make myself want to be a bookkeeper, I can't do it. I hate bookkeeping. I hate math, I hate all of that stuff. And so I can't say learning to be a bookkeeper is a priority for me, it's not and it's not going to take any I'm not going to let it take the time away from the two things that are most important to me. So I think that to start, you have to just break down the things that are priority in this most simple terms, the simplest terms, so your relationship, your business, not your relationship, your Instagram page, your YouTube channel, your podcast, your know, your relationship, your business, those are the two simplest ways to break down the priorities. From there. You can start establishing, I guess, like one a and one B in the priority list of like, okay, so it's my business, and my business is a blog. So my priority right now is marketing that and I am going to market it. That's what I'm going to do and I'm going to market it by ABCDE not by my business is a blog. And that's great. Like No, you the more laid out of a plan you have for your time to establish to work on your goals, the less opportunity you have for you know what project manager is called scope creep. You know, of just like I want to market it. But what's Tick Tock like these days, or I want to market my business, but I want to make a new product to or like the more, you're able to just keep it simple. And say, I have two priorities, two high level priorities, their personal and their business. In the business, I have this one priority I'm working on. I know there's 64,000 other priorities in the business. But that's when you start delegating. And that's when you start automating and eliminating it. That's, you know, we'll talk about that later. But just the more you understand that, you have to keep the process simple, the less opportunity there is to overwhelm yourself and end up burning out.
Alyson Lex 25:47
I really like that, that kind of that step. So like figuring out what's important, like for real put, and that you willing to put effort toward getting specific with your priorities and putting them in as some kind of order. Set, I wrote these notes down, set some goals, plan your time to meet those goals appropriately. And also remember to keep it simple, like those five steps, thinking, figure out what's important, set some goals around it, and make a plan and stick that you can stick to. And I think what that does is that removes this idea, like you said that we have to have that eight figure business and the perfect 2.5 kids that are a genius level, and the Spotless house and the completely satisfied husband all the time. Right, all of these things. That is why and I know that men deal with this too, I don't want to, I don't want to pretend that this is just a woman thing, right? Like men also have a lot of demands, and stressors and social pressure to balance, like to skew the balance actually in another way. Right like so. But it is really important to always come back to what is important to you. Which is how you have a sustainable business because you burned out in your skincare. But now, in your digital marketing business you are being you're thriving, which is good for this podcast, because that's kind of in the name. You said the thing, I said the thing, and you're not burning out and you're but you're still seeing the success that you want to see. Because you're able to come at it with that plan in place.
Megan Brame 27:37
Agreed. And one thing I want to add to is that while you know I am much in a much better place. Now, that doesn't mean that my business isn't stressful. And that doesn't mean that I have it all figured out. You know it, there are still moments of stress. And that's why I said like burnout can happen many times, but it's how you recognize it and how you work to remove the opportunity for burnout to come. That is the big difference, especially in my life.
Alyson Lex 28:15
I really like that.
Jennie Wright 28:17
Yeah, me too, me to somebody who's been at the different levels of having experienced it on and off here and they're self imposed all the time, then yeah, I totally, I totally appreciate that. And everything that you've said today has been incredibly helpful. I know that there's, I know that I'm not the only one who got something of real value from the sun and Alison, too. So I really appreciate that. And that you're, you know, very open and honest about the experience that you had in your previous business, which I think is incredible, sort of owning up to that. I know that I I know that in different times of my business, I've had that sort of a different experience with that burnout and what happened like I if I could have at the time, I would have lit a match on it and walked away. If I could have been you know what I mean? And I didn't feel like I had that choice. But I did have to find a way to reset it and find the joy in it again, it took a while It took about six months to try and find that joy again. But I found it by pivoting right. And that was good enough in the in the sense that I was doing it. So really appreciate you doing this. I know that there's people who are probably clamoring to try and figure out how they can find you where you are, how they can get in touch with you and learn more about what it is that you do because you do a lot more than talking about this. You're an advanced digital marketing strategist. So you've got some pretty awesome chops. Tell them a little bit about where they can find you how they can connect.
Megan Brame 29:41
Absolutely. So all of my social media is stop sucking a business that is on Instagram, Pinterest. My YouTube channel is just my name Megan brain and you can find me at Megan brain calm that is the hub for all of my information how to reach me All of my blog posts helping business owners move from kitchen table to full time and from full time to empires, and all of the tips that I've learned and the strategies and so I hope you will check it out. And I'm always happy to help I can, as you can see, I can talk about this stuff for hours and hours on end.
Alyson Lex 30:20
I also want to mention that you have a podcast called stop sucking at business. And I know this because I was a guest, and that is how we got connected and became very close friends. And if I say besties, then Jenny's gonna get jealous. So besties
Megan Brame 30:36
United States life meets
Alyson Lex 30:37
United States like needs, with our emotional support Canadian over here. Um, so yeah, check out that podcast, we will put all of that information in the show notes on our website. So you can check that out at System to thrive.com and search for Megan's episode.
Megan Brame 30:56
PS, for those who are interested, I have just released a new marketing spreadsheet that is free. And it can help people avoid burnout by setting up their marketing goals. And it's really free. It's on my website. So check it out.
Jennie Wright 31:10
Absolutely. Thanks so much for mentioning it. We'll make sure that that we'll put that in the show notes as well. So thank you so much for doing this with us, Megan, we really appreciate it. I think it's phenomenal what you're talking about the things that you're doing, I'm on all your social already following you all over the place. So thank you so much for doing that. And if you haven't already, please do subscribe to the podcast so you don't miss episodes like this. We get pretty granular in a lot of our episodes, we give you step by steps within there's this cool stuff that we do, where you talk to somebody about the experiences and the life of what it means to be an entrepreneur, and that can have some great impact as well. We also have incredible tips on Mondays with our Monday quick tips, and other great experts that are all lined up just for you to give you more information on your business. Thanks so much for listening. We'll be back again very soon answering another question.