What does burnout as an entrepreneur look like?

The short answer? It looks like a list of chargebacks and refunds.

It looks like avoiding your inbox because you just can’t mentally face how much you’ve let down those people who trusted you.

It looks like not paying your bills or dipping into savings so you can send all of those refunds.

It looks like feeling frozen and defeated and ashamed.

It looks like failure, and in a way, it is. You’ve failed. You’ve failed your clients and yourself.

But it can also look a lot like success.

Or the beginnings of it at least.

For me, that success didn’t come in the form of some great business revival or a flood of clients. Instead, it came in the form of a great realization.

The realization that I am not an entrepreneur.

I mean, technically I am, of course, but I realized that I’m actually an INTRApreneur.

An intrapreneur is someone who has the spirit of an entrepreneur but prefers to work independently within another’s business. They aren’t the ones who want to be the visionary CEO steering the ship. Instead, they want to be a trusted, autonomous leader working within the vision cast by the CEO.

My journey had begun in much that way… only when it came time to scale, I did what I thought was the only logical thing.

I grew an accidental agency.

In doing so, I grew my income and my team and my skillset, but I also lost the intimacy of working one on one with an amazing client. I gave away the pieces of my work that I loved doing in exchange for the business tasks I didn’t really enjoy.

So when the pressure of running a successful business starts to build, and you’re not doing things that fill you up on the day to day, there isn’t enough positives to tip the scale, and the whole thing topples over under the weight of all the negative.

For me, that meant burnout.

But out of the ashes came that realization.

So I changed direction, leaned into my strengths, and started doing more of what I was passionate about. I did continue to work with my small team of virtual assistants for things like scheduling and payroll and tracking time and invoicing, but I intentionally structured my business to avoid another accidental agency.

I also rebranded my podcast to focus on intrapreneurs like me, and I officially launched the Social Intrapreneur Mentorship where I can mentor up-and-coming social media managers who want to raise their prices, sign more clients, and keep them coming back for more—without having to buy another course filled with empty promises to learn how!

This entire shift was brought on by one of the lowest points in my professional life.

But it took that hard fall to finally wake me up to the fact that I was creating the entrepreneurial life that everyone else said I should be creating. I was building and scaling the way they said I should, but it was not necessarily the way I wanted to.

And when in my life have I ever been happy by doing things the way other people have said I should?!

It’s so not on brand.

All this to say, burnout as an entrepreneur can look like a lot of things. It can look like exhaustion or stress. It can look like depression or anxiety.

For me, though, it looked like failure at the start of it, but in the end, there was success in that failure.