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CRM Guru, Family Filmmaker, and Host of the Business-First Creatives podcast. I help creative service providers grow and streamline their businesses using Dubsado.
If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you know how easy it is to burn out. In today’s episode, Courtney Porter joins us for our Self Care Series to share how entrepreneurs can recognize and avoid burnout. Listen in as we chat through boundaries, outsourcing, and setting expectations as an entrepreneur to reduce your stress!
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I am The Entrepreneur’s Therapist, located in Memphis, TN, and the owner of Courtney L. Porter & Associates with over 9 years of experience. With clients struggling with stress, anxiety, and depression, I emphasize the importance of self care to improve the quality of life and transform their business and relationships.
Today’s episode is brought to you by my DIY Dubsado Template shop, where you can purchase the exact email, form, and workflow templates that I include inside the CRM Blueprint course. Steal my templates and customize them to match your brand!
Here are the highlights…
[:52] Meet Courtney
[2:07] What is Burnout?
[5:22] Getting Out of Burnout
[8:10] Delegating in Business
[9:55] Boundaries, Prioritization, & Setting Expectations
[12:35] Boundaries with Time
[19:03] Self-Care for Entrepreneurs
[21:24] Simplifying Self-Care Practices
Mentioned in this Episode
Episodes on Outsourcing
Connect with Courtney
Purchase Courtney’s Book or Journals
Review the Transcript:
Colie: Hello, hello and welcome back to the Business First Creatives podcast. Today’s guest is special. I have Courtney Porter, and we are gonna be talking about burnout as entrepreneurs. So, Courtney, good morning and how are you doing? Hi.
morning. I’m doing well this morning and I hope you are too.
Colie: Let me tell you guys a little bit about how I know Courtney. I know Courtney because her husband Marcus is a photographer, and I met both of them for the first time at the photo cookout. Let’s see, that was New Orleans 2019. Yeah,
Colie: so I know I’ve known you for a few years now, Courtney. Isn’t that crazy?
Courtney: I know it is.
Colie: But Courtney, why don’t you tell us
what you do and who you serve?
Because guys, spoiler alert, Courtney is not a photographer. That is not how she makes her money. So tell us all about yourself, Courtney. I.
Courtney: Well, I am a licensed clinical social worker, but my profession is I’m a mental health therapist and I work with, I do two things. I work full-time in an outpatient mental health clinic. Working with, um, in a rural population, but in my private practice, I work with entrepreneurs and helping them focus on self-care to reduce burnout in their relationships
and in their work
Colie: Okay, Courtney, so first, why don’t you paint a picture for me. What does burnout look like for most entrepreneurs that you work with?
Courtney: burnout looks like. Exhaustion, like you tend to be physically exhausted. You tend to sometimes feel like, am I failing at what I’m doing because nothing that I’m doing seems to be working. What’s wrong? You tend to question who you are, what your purpose is. You’re not as passionate as you were when you started.
You know, when you first start something, you just like gung ho, ready to move, but then that energy starts to fade and you don’t know why. You don’t know where it’s coming from. All you know is, I’m tired, I just wanna sleep. I’m just tired, I just wanna rest. And I don’t know where it’s coming from. In many instances, people struggle with sleep.
Maybe in for some people you have a lot on your mind and you don’t know how to put it, put it into play, so it’s hard to fall asleep. But then when you sleep, It’s hard to get up to find the energy to wake up, so you have so much on your mind because with entrepreneurs, the ideas just keep streaming in and streaming in because the dreams are so big.
But the execution just seems like, oh my God, I, I can’t put it in my grasp. I can’t put it in my hands. And so you just really wanna accomplish those dreams. So that’s just a snippet of
what burnout can look like for.
Colie: Yeah, let’s, I mean, one of the thing, I mean, you mentioned many things that we are gonna hit on, but the one thing that I think I wanna start with is when you mentioned the lack of creativity, Because recently I have been struggling with this, and I don’t necessarily think that I’m suffering from burnout per se from my business, but I definitely do see a lack of creativity in myself when it comes to the photography side of my business because I have been going for so hard in like the system side of my business, like.
For myself, I feel avoidance, which is not a word that you used, but now that I mentioned it, I’m sure that you would agree. I find myself looking for other things to do other than what I need to be doing to like run my photography business. Like, you know, I need to sit down. I need to either edit a session or send it to my editor.
I need to create a film or set it to my film editor, and sometimes I feel overwhelmed. And not very creative to where I can’t even do the next step that I need to do in order to deliver, you know, my sessions to my clients. So even though you said like lack of time, I mean, I, I feel tired all the time, but for myself, I think that it’s really manifested in like a, an avoidance of doing the things that I know need to be done.
And if I would just sit down and do them. I could do the next step, but like the overwhelming fear of sitting down to do that first step, like I just, I’m not setting the time, I’m not doing those kinds of things. So one of the things that I know that you wanted to talk about today is like priorities. So let’s say that I’m an entrepreneur and I’ve identified.
I am feeling tired. I am avoiding doing things. What, how can my priorities be adjusted in order to bring myself out of the burnout phase?
Courtney: I think one part, that some people struggle with. All of us in whatever profession is under identifying the problem. And I think which we run from because when we identify a problem, we, we feel that something is wrong with us. We tend to personalize that and we feel guilt and we attach shame to, oh my God, if something’s wrong, then that means that I’m wrong.
And what you are describing is really anxiety because anxie, the root of anxiety is feeling like, I have all of this to do, but all of this has to be done at the same time. But that’s really unrealistic because nothing can ever be done all at the same time. We can only do things one task at a time, and that’s how people become overwhelmed because it’s like, oh my God, I have to take the kids to school.
I need to edit these photos. I need to send these edits off. But can I honestly do those things at the same time? No. Prioritizing what’s more important to get done at this moment. So really understanding what’s more important at this time and scheduling things out as such, and that really reduces the overwhelm that comes with it.
Because another thing to keep in mind is that as entrepreneurs, a lot is on your shoulders anyway. And so you feel like you have to do a lot by yourself. So really finding a way to also delegate tasks if that’s possible, to reduce the stress and the overwhelming, pressure and stress that comes with being a business owner.
Now, I think it’s important for entrepreneurs to know every task that’s needed for their business to run, but I don’t think it’s vital that
they do all of those tasks themselves
Colie: Courtney, you just said a word.
Courtney: Because that, that will really lead you to a quick burnout because our body will let us know. Our mind may be running, but our body will let us know, sis girl, sit down somewhere or I’m gonna sit down for you. And we wonder why we don’t have the energy. If you have kids and a family, the kids wanna play, they wanna talk to you, they wanna do things, but you’re just not emotionally available.
You’re physically tired, you just don’t have the energy. And so you’re mentally, you want to be there, but physically it’s not adding up there. The energy isn’t meeting on the same, on the same level. So really understanding even as an entrepreneur that it’s okay to delegate and it’s okay not to do everything
on your own because you’re only one
Colie: I mean, guys, you know, she, she said, I mean, she didn’t say outsource, she said delegate, but you guys know that’s like my second favorite word. I have found myself delegating a lot, and one of the things that I’ve learned that I just, I like to say this in every opportunity that I can on my podcast, is that sometimes it takes more time to delegate than it does for you to do it yourself.
That doesn’t mean that there’s not value in de in delegating it to someone else. So like I, I bring up an example of, you know, I needed to get something done and instead of doing it myself, which probably would’ve taken like 10 minutes, it took me 15 minutes to outline it for my virtual assistant to prioritize the task, to tell her exactly how to do each one.
But that was 15 minutes this time. Now I have that up, that, that s o p, so that the next time that it needs to be done, I don’t need to re-explain it to her again. She already has the steps from the first time. So the very first time that you delegate something to either someone in your business or a professional that you’ve hired, it may take you more time.
But in the long run, it will save you more time. So Courtney, let’s get back to this prioritizing. How do you think that people should prioritize the tasks in their business, and how do people that you work with like split the difference between prioritizing the tasks in their business and then prioritizing the tasks in their personal life?
Because of course, we each only get the 24 hours a day. No matter if you just have a family or if you have a family and business or whatever is going on in your life, like how do you encourage people to set those priorities for themselves and their business?
Courtney: The key word that I use with my clients is boundaries is the B word. Boundaries and boundaries are so important because they’re the limits and restrictions that we put in place because it really teaches. It shows. Us how we wanna be treated, and it’s also teaching other people how we expect them to treat us.
And setting realistic expectations for ourselves and for others when it comes to, executing business responsibilities and realizing that if I have to have my hand and everything in my business, then I’m not the owner, I’m just an employee. I’m just another employee. I don’t, it’s important, like I said at the beginning, it’s important to know how to do and run every facet of your business, but it’s not necessary in the long run to have your hand and everything because there’s only so many fingers you know, on your hand.
And we only have two hands, and you can only. Do so much. So you have to be realistic with yourself and reduce the pressure, and with that comes really having realistic expectations on yourself in regards to knowing, in regards to prioritizing, because like you said a few minutes ago, initially when you outsource, the longest time it takes is the beginning, but in the end you really get that time back because now you don’t have to put.
Or find ways to include that time on your schedule because you’ve outsourced to an editor or you’ve outsourced, to a person to call through your images, or you’ve outsourced, or you’ve even added an additional photographer to help. Let’s just say you do weddings and you don’t have to try to run all over the place, all over the building to be with the bride and with the groom at the same time, but you’re able to ask for help.
And I really do believe that’s important for entrepreneurs to really be okay with knowing that you can ask for help and people will be there for you. A lot of times people are willing to help us, but cause we don’t open our mouths to ask for it, then they’re not gonna say, sure, I can do this for
you. I got you.
But if we want closed mouths, don’t get fed.
Colie: I mean, that was on the tip of my tongue, Courtney, like literally it was sitting there. Okay, Courtney, so I have a question now. Do you think that there is like one boundary that most entrepreneurs struggle to set for themselves, and if so, what is it?
Courtney: I believe it’s the boundary with time. And I would say that because a lot of times we don’t, you don’t realize as an entrepreneur when people are wasting your time or they’re taking up your time when they don’t need to. So time boundary is important when it comes to entrepreneurs and not allowing people to take up time that you could be investing in doing something else.
In so time is what I also see is what one thing that I see and. Emotional boundaries is another thing because your emotions are attached to your business because that’s your baby, right? And you want it, you’re trying to groom it, and you’re trying to shape it, and you want it to look a certain way.
And there are certain people you want. You don’t wanna be around your baby because they’re gonna attain it. They’re gonna distort it, they’re gonna try to recreate it or change the values that you have in place for it. So, really, Having limits in place on how you allow people to affect you emotionally and become too opinionated, projecting their opinions on your business and changing your idea and view of how you auto, of how you initially thought your business to be.
But then they come in and try to change and reshape it into what they think it
should be. So emotional boundaries and
time boundaries tend to come up.
Colie: I mean, I see a couple things mixed into what you just said, so that time boundary is so important because one of the things that I think that we overlook is like rescheduling, so. I think that we all acknowledge, cuz when people ask me what my rescheduling policy is for my, you know, my photography sessions, I’m like, oh no.
Like if a kid is sick, I reschedule If a mom and dad have had a fight the night before, I allow them to reschedule. I. But that is something that I have placed on myself as I wanna make sure that when I come into their space, because I am not one of those photographers that takes you outside and photographs you for 30 minutes and we’re done.
I mean, I’m inside your house. I’m inside that space for two to three hours at a time, and so, If people didn’t get enough sleep, if someone’s not feeling well, if there’s tension in the house because you and your partner got in an argument the next night, like, those don’t help me produce the best images that I can for you.
So while I, I don’t, I don’t advertise that like I have an unlimited reschedule policy, cuz that would just be ridiculous. I mean, I do tell my clients when I’m checking in with them, Hey, is everything good? Are we good for tomorrow? Because the worst thing that you can do is show up. And waste three hours of my time.
And at the end of the session I’m like, I don’t, I don’t think I really captured them. I didn’t get what I need. And then we’re gonna have to redo the session again.
Colie: how do I get clients to respect my boundaries? I mean, I have things in there that talk about a rescheduling fee. How many times you get to reschedule with me before I charge you, before you lose your deposit?
I mean, and those are boundaries that I am clearly communicating in the booking process. In my contract, in the emails that I send. And so how do you encourage people to communicate those boundaries to their clients? Because I also feel like some people struggle, clearly not me, Courtney, but some people struggle with communicating those things to their client because they’re, they’re worried of the pushback that they would get from the clients.
And, you know, it’s like, it’s like they have this policy and when someone questions them, Their gut reaction is, oh, well I should do what the client told me. Right? So how do, how do you talk to people about, you know, getting that confidence in communicating the boundaries to their clients?
Courtney: I think it is important to separate as entrepreneurs, I know the clients, the clients are your customers and the clients are. income. And so your clients tell you how to run your business, but when you get to the point to where you are relying so much on your clients that you’re dismissing your needs and your, realistic abilities of what you can and can’t do, then it still defeats the whole purpose.
One thing that I do encourage people is, and that I’ve learned along the way, even. With, Marcus and the photography business do not overcommit because when you overcommit and you under deliver, that’s just as bad as, as anything else because you can’t say, okay, I can do this. We can do this, and we can do this.
And then it doesn’t end up happening. It’s best to under commit and overdeliver rather than to overcommit and underdeliver because you can say you, in your contract, you can say you’ll only get 50 images, and there’s a certain expectation that your client is expecting just based off the contract. But when you deliver a hundred, they’re just like, oh my gosh.
You know? Even though you know, but it’s best to pull a little back initially. And at the beginning or at the initial meeting with your client, create that expectation and not put so much on yourself to where, to whether you are too exhausted to get the task done. So I would encourage business owners and entrepreneurs to not overcommit, because when you overcommit, you’re putting yourself in the position to disappoint your client.
Courtney: High expectations yield, quick disappointments.
Courtney: So not saying not have any expectations. It’s important to have a standard, but don’t put them up so high to where they’re unrealistic to, to even you and the client, to where the client says, oh my God, you can do all of that. Don’t do that. You’re doing
Colie: And I think that talking about disappointment ties it back to when you were saying protecting your emotional wellbeing. Because when you have disappointed clients, it’s, it’s cyclical. Like their disappointment feeds into you and then you feel, you know, insecure about your business and that will lead to burnout even quicker.
I mean, yeah. let’s talk about what entrepreneurs can do to avoid burnout from the get-go. I know that you advocate for a lot of self-care for entrepreneurs. What does that look like?
Courtney: self-care is knowing when you need to sit down and take a break. You know, the hardest reality and the hardest pill to swallow is to work yourself to death. And I really mean to death and not even enjoy the fruits of the labor that you put into place. You’re working so much that you’re too tired to even enjoy your family.
You’re even too tired to go to Disney, and I know you,
Colie: not happening.
Courtney: you too tired to enjoy the things that you normally do. So when you work so much, but yet you don’t, you can’t enjoy the work that you’ve done. That takes away and it takes the enjoyment and the love out of work you’re doing. So I really do think it’s important to know when it’s necessary to take a break.
No one can run off of unlimited energy forever. All of us need a rest and or if we don’t, if we don’t take the time to rest, then our body. It’s gonna tell us, okay, well if you can’t sit down, I’m gonna sit down for you. So it’s rather for it to be voluntary rather than involuntary, because you never know how long involuntary will have you down, down, and out.
And then that really puts a dent in your business because now you may be sick, you may be physically unable to do th do things, and it creates more complications and problems
in the long run.
So taking breaks is one.
Colie: I mean, voluntary versus
involuntary. I think that a lot of us don’t consider what will happen. I. If you don’t protect your calendar, if you don’t protect your emotional wellbeing, and you end up in a position where you are physically unable to do what needs to be done in your business, what happens?
I mean, you have reschedules, you have cancellations, and then from there it just snowballs. And so whether or not you can recover from that snowball, Separate from trying to do things to avoid that happening in the first place. So, Courtney, what does self-care actually look like? Like realistically, as entrepreneurs, what should we be doing on either a weekly or a monthly basis to make sure that we are practicing self-care?
Courtney: I think simplifying it. Really sticking with the basics and keeping it simple because a lot of times we can overcomplicate self-care, but self-care is really, that includes taking a break. That includes how, how am I treating myself? How am I being healthy? Am I exercising? Am I at least taking a walk, getting some fresh air?
Even if it’s just the walk down the block, nothing. You don’t have to do body pump or, I can’t think of the, the other strenuous, workout that people do, but you don’t have to do anything strenuous. Just a nice walk outside is healing in and of itself. How you, how you eat your exercise, your sleep, sleep is so vital and important.
Because if your mind isn’t rested, you won’t have the creativity and the creative aptitude to even produce for your clients, and to continue to come out with these great ideas of how to make your business even better and how to create an even better product for your client, just how you can be better overall for your client because when you’re better, then it’s gonna create a great experience for your client.
Self-love, self-care. Self acceptance. They all start with self, and none of those things can be found in anyone else. So we have to start, we have to begin with ourself, and if I’m not taking care of myself, then I can’t do anything for my client, for
my family, or anyone if I don’t focus on.
Colie: I mean, it’s funny when people ask me what I do for self-care, I say, my monthly trips to Disney didn’t, you know,
Courtney: Right. Like you.
Colie: I mean, but what I have figured out in
Like the last few months, and it wasn’t like this in the beginning, but what I have come to realize is even though I get a lot of joy from going to Disney, it is a lot of work.
I mean, I’m in the park. I’m taking like 20,000 steps a day. We’re usually there at Rope Drop. It’s a time difference. I mean, there’s all of these things going on and so I cannot snap back like I did even a year ago, cuz like a year ago I would go to Disney on like Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and then on Thursday I’d have a full day of calls.
I would have like a v I P day set up. I would have a photo session on Friday. And what I have learned.
Is that not only do I need to do what I love, which is going to Disney, I then have to give myself a day of rest so that I can recover so that I am not doing all of my calls from my bed. Which I mean, I can do that, but if I do that too many times, it is going to eventually lead to like a loss of joy for Disney.
And who wants that? Like you have to make sure that you’re, not only are you making time, For the things that you love, but that you’re not overdoing it so that you can continue to enjoy, um, you know, whatever brings you joy, whatever you practice as self-care. And so, I feel like I was guilty cuz in this week, particular Courtney, I mean we’re recording in April of 2023, just got back from Disney on Wednesday and I made the mistake of not giving myself yesterday off.
And so first two calls of the day I was in the bed with the laptop apologizing to people like, you know, I’m just, I’m in the bed today, take it as you will. I mean, and today I only have two calls, so I mean, it was a much lighter schedule today, but, I need to get in a better practice of when I’m going to Disney.
Definitely marking off at least one to two days after. But so if someone finds themselves in that period of burnout, like it’s easy for us to say, you should practice self-care. You should delegate. But what if it’s actually already gone too far? Like what if you find yourself with.
10 schedule, 10 sessions scheduled in the next two weeks, and you’re behind on your edits and you’re not getting enough sleep because you’re doing too much.
Like what’s the first step of like breaking the cycle of burnout and making a plan to come out on the other end?
Courtney: I will go back to. Knowing when you need help. In some instances it may be to seek a therapist or to seek counsel, because a lot of times everything starts mentally and once you’re tapped out, mentally that rolls over and it dominoes into every other facet of your life. So a lot of times maybe you just need to get everything off of your mind and talk to a professional, to get that release.
Because you don’t realize how much you’re caring until you start talking and letting it all out. And you feel so much relief and so free, free afterward as you get released, that burden, that mental burden off. So knowing how to ask for help or seek help. Also even a mentor, some people call them, I think you said earlier you had a business, a business mentor.
Um, a lot of times we can, we don’t have to go through breakdowns ourself. We can learn lessons from other people’s experience to get us back, to snap us out of this whole hustle and grind type of mentality. Because even the definition of grind, if I’m grinding something, that means I’m breaking it all the way down and I’m bearing it down to the rawness.
No one wants to be grounded. I know I don’t, so, You know, we get, we get caught up into the rigmarole of society’s idea of what entrepreneurship is. Not saying that it doesn’t require hustle, but social media would have you think, oh, I’m hustling and grinding all of the time. I’m doing this, I’m doing that.
That’s not every day. You have to know, and that goes with your time management. You have to know I’m designating time to. Um, to put into gathering information for this and executing how I’m gonna get it done. So it’s really not about hustling grind, because that’s gonna lead you also to a quick and soon burnout.
So really knowing when is when you should take, um, take a step back. And I also wanted to go back to what you said. About the vacation, because that comes up a lot. What you don’t realize is you don’t realize how tired you are until you go on vacation. The first few days meant sleeping you, you take, you, you’re taking like, I’m just, I just need to sleep from everything that I put out into the world and into my clients.
So I just need to recoup from that so I can have the energy to do. Something else, you know, to have fun. And then I need a break, a vacation from the vacation, which is that cushion. The day, the day after you get back from Disney, the one or two days that you need to make up to rest from the fun. So I think that’s totally okay, and we have to reprogram ourselves to believe that I don’t have to be running all the time gunning and running.
All the time, I can take a break. And because you have those pieces in place and your business is set up so well to where everything is lined up, nothing will be outta order. Everything will still be able to run smoothly once you get back on your feet, and nothing will, um, break down or fall apart because you’ve created those pieces and outsources in place to make sure things run smoothly.
Colie: Yeah. I mean, and guys, I’m gonna put a few episodes in the show notes if you are looking for things to outsource, ways to delegate, I have many episodes on this podcast where we highlight those things, particularly for photographers. But Courtney, it is one of my wish, and I’ve been guilty of this, of like talking about the hustle culture because I feel like in photography in particular, a lot of us have very unrealistic expectations of what it.
What it costs us and what it takes to grow a successful and a sustainable photography business. And while I have always said, I mean, you have to hustle for a while and then once it gets going, you can take time off. I have backed off of saying that because I feel like we are setting the expectation of you have to work in your business 24 7 in order to grow it, which is definitely not the case.
But I think a lot of people think that if they only put in like six hours a week, That you’re gonna pull this business and, you know, make it a six figure photography business. I’m doing air quotes for those of you who can’t see me. Um, but I mean, that is also unrealistic. So it’s like finding that middle ground where you are not hustling yourself into burnout, but you’re also not thinking that it only takes a few hours a week and you’re all of a sudden gonna have, you know, clients booked every week and make your financial goals, whatever they are.
Courtney: And you have to, you, you have to match your actual work ethic to what your dreams are, not what you see. Other entrepreneurs accomplishing because I think we get caught up in other entrepreneurs, glamor or what we see them doing, and we’re trying to catch, catch up with them. But that may not be our dream.
You know, we have, I think it’s great to have people to look up to, but their wants are not our wants. And it’s good to see people succeeding, but their idea of success may not be yours. So you have to know what success looks like for you because you, in your perspective, based off of what you’ve built so far, you could have created your success and you could have been there, but because you’re focused on the wrong goal and the wrong target, you, you’ve checked that box off of what your success looks like, but you’re, you’re redirected onto the wrong person’s success to where you’re not even focusing and. Sitting in your own achievements and accomplishments and all that you’ve got done along this journey and along this way because there are so many, you’re successful, Coley and all that you’ve done. But if you are looking at another photographer and them, you may not think that what you’re doing is enough. And so I have to remind entrepreneurs too, that you are enough. What you’re doing is enough. You are already enough. So comparing your comparison is the thief of joy, and we hear that all the time. So when we are so caught up and comparing, then we lose sight of being grateful and having gratitude for where, where we are, what we have, and where we are right now.
Colie: You know what, Courtney, that’s an excellent place to end this podcast. I could not have said any of that better myself. If the listening audience want to learn more about you and your offers, where can they find you on the internet?
Courtney: On Instagram, I’m Courtney l Porter Therapy. You can find me and my website is courtney l porter com.
Colie: Awesome. And guys, those will be in the show notes. courtney thank you so much for joining me on today’s episode. This was a
Courtney: Thank you.
Colie: this is, this is definitely separate and different than my normal guests and what we talk about, but you know, burnout and all of this. Is in everyone’s life, in everyone’s business.
And I just thought that it was super important to hear about these concepts from the other side, like not from the actual entrepreneur, but from the person that we might actually need to seek help from once we get into that place of burnout. So Courtney, thank you so much for coming on the podcast.
Courtney: Thank you. This has been a joy. Thanks for having me.
Colie: And guys, this is, this is it for this episode. See you next time.