Are you working massive hours & headed towards burnout?

Find out the danger signs that indicate you're sprinting rather than pacing yourself to win.


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by Daniel in Time


So often, tradies in business are working so hard they have forgotten that business is a marathon, not a sprint.

I recently worked with a tradie who was making okay profits in his company, but after working hard all day, then working late most nights, was becoming increasingly tired and frustrated, and his business was stealing a lot of time from his relationship.

He was working 65-70 hours per week and knew if he kept up this pace it would not be long before he and his business were in trouble. Already before we started he was finding too much time on the tools for weeks on end, and he would come down with a flu bug or simply had to rest for a day to recover.

Doing these kinds of hours is okay for a while. Let’s face it, when you run a business, sometimes key staff members get sick, or a crisis hits, and we have to put the hours in and get the work done.

But work at this pace for too long, and it’s only a matter of time before something gives.

Trades company owners are hard workers. But they often treat their business as a sprint rather than a marathon. This is getting them into trouble.

Here is why this approach doesn’t work.


Let’s look at a comparison of sprinting vs marathon running. Two similar sports but with completely different approaches from their athletes.

As you can appreciate, a sprinter needs a completely different strategy to a marathon runner.

The current world record for the 100-metre sprint is 9.58 seconds, set by Jamaica’s Usain Bolt in 2009. Every tenth of a second counts – the difference between first and last is usually around 0.4 of a second.

Athletes work on getting every muscle to produce its maximum effort, and the race is explosive and also spectacular. Every muscle is needed to propel the body forward.

Fantastic except for one thing.

This type of effort can only be sustained for a brief amount of time (just a few seconds).

Usain Bolt GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Try to do this pace for a marathon of 26 miles or 42.195 kilometres and the body will just break down in first few minutes, if you can get that far.

Ask Dennis Kimetto of Kenya, the world record holder for the fastest marathon, clocking in at 2:02:57.

I know he will say that he paces himself for the distance.

Go too fast, too early, you simply run out of reserves, and there is nothing left in the tank to finish.

Don’t let this be you in your trades business. Being so busy you don’t do the important things to ensure your business makes good profit. DNF “did not finish” because your body or your relationship just gives up and you collapse before the finish line.

Make no mistake, business is a marathon not a sprint, and must be treated like one. With an appropriate strategy.


The reality is, put enough pressure and tension on something and it will wear out. It’s just about how long it takes.

Even a rock, if you hit it enough times, will break eventually.

Here’s a typical example of Joe Tradie who works around 60+ hours per week.

He leaves at 6am in the morning,
works on the tools all day,
skips lunch because he hasn’t got time.
Gets home at 7pm, argues with the wife about why he is never home to help out with the kids.
After tea, he has to check emails and get organised for tomorrow.
There is a pile of quotes to complete and worries about landing enough jobs to keep the team busy.
The bank keep hassling him because he keeps going past the overdraft limit, suppliers want their money or they are going to put him on stop credit.
His office staff keep hounding him about what to charge out, which is just another thing he doesn’t have time to do, although he knows the invoices need to go out so he can get paid.
He does some paperwork, clears a few emails, goes to bed late and gets to do it all again tomorrow.

Joe thinks to himself, “I know if I just work a few more hours on the weekend I can catch up – maybe”.

How long can he keep this up for before something gives? There is real pressure on his body, his stress levels are through the roof, his marriage and family are not getting what they need.

It is only a matter of time before one or all of these things fall over.

Fail GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

He is the sprinter trying to run a marathon – it’s very unlikely this will end well unless he takes a different approach.

But that’s business, right?  That’s what you have to do.

Nope. There is a better way. If you get it right, you will also make more money and have more fun.


Here are some of the danger signs you are treating your business as a sprint & heading towards burnout:

  • You know you are working too many hours but can’t stop
  • Finding you are waking up tired most mornings
  • Spending more time with your spouse in the office arguing than in the bedroom
  • Feeling run down and have not had a proper holiday in years or know how to even have one, without the business turning to total chaos
  • Dreading work and have lost the dreams you started with
  • No direction – just working job to job
  • Little or no time left for your family and friends, or for hobbies you used to enjoy
  • Feeling like you have to do everything yourself or the place falls apart (everyone wants a piece of you)
  • Too much time on the tools and your body is starting to get worn out
  • Caught in “boom or bust” – racing to get work done when it’s busy, then scrambling to find enough work for your team
  • Spending all day putting out fires, fixing problems and mistakes, wasting time on tasks that are urgent but not important
  • Lying awake at night worried about the business
  • For men, if your wife/partner works in the business too, she is likely to be telling you how overwhelmed she is feeling also

If you can relate to even some of these things then you need to do something about it.


So if you see the signs and want to do something about it, where do you start?

Well the first thing is to take a look at what you really want and what you don’t want.

To get you started here are some typical things my clients often have told me:


  • To reduce hours from 60-70 hours to 40-50 per week (or 4 days a week)
  • To leave work at 5 every day
  • Quality time every week with their partner (want spark back in relationship)
  • To spend time with the kids every weekend
  • Time for regular exercise/better health
  • One month of holidays every year
  • Flexibility in working hours
  • More money (the fair return for their efforts that they deserve!)

Don’t Want

  • Don’t want to work massive hours (want to make a work free zone between 6pm to 9pm for family)
  • Don’t want to spend evenings doing paperwork forever (want to delegate energy zapping jobs including invoicing, bookwork, and phones)
  • Don’t want to be the only one the business depends on 24/7 (want better systems/more staff)
  • Don’t want staff making too many mistakes
  • Don’t want cashflow headaches
  • Don’t want for it all to be for nothing (want to make good money and look after health and family)

Notice this list is not all business, but includes things that are essential to your survival. If you are honest with yourself, the reason you originally went out on your own was not just for the money but the dream of a better lifestyle, affording the time to enjoy your life as well.

Take a few minutes to write both lists for yourself. If you have a significant other and/or a business partner, get them to make the same list. Then pick the top 3 most important wants or don’t wants and make a plan.

Take a good look at how you are doing and decide now to make some changes.

Once you are clear and know what you want, and where to go, you are already half way there.

Now you’ll need to set yourself and your business up for success. Essential ingredients include good systems, good staff and good tools to handle your time properly so you’re focusing on the right things.

At Next Level Tradie, I’ve helped many business owners get work and life balance back. The guy I mentioned earlier is now kicking goals – improving his business – currently making a lot more money – while working less hours. At last count, a more manageable and enjoyable 45-50 hours a week.


  • Business is a marathon, not a sprint, so pace yourself.
  • Watch out for the danger signs.
  • The first step is deciding what you do and don’t want in your business and life.

Want to get ahead without burnout? Tap into knowledge and experience to avoid common pitfalls. Free e-book is yours here 


Get my new guide and find out the 5 simple steps to make your tradie business grow financially and get more cash in the bank. It's all steak, no popcorn.

Get it now