Feeling stressed and burned out? Maybe it’s time to slow down and ask for help.

Q I’m overwhelmed. Where do I turn for help?

A  It took a strong ego to start your business. It also takes a strong ego to ask for help. So many restaurant operators bear the entire operation on their shoulders and eventually can’t handle the workload. It takes a toll on their health, family life and business.

I recently sat down with an operator of a multiunit company, not at his famous restaurant but at his hospital bed after he’d suffered a heart attack while filling in for a sick chef. As soon as our eyes met, he said, “I know, I know! Don’t tell me again that I need to slow down and ask for help!” For years he has chased his dream of owning several restaurants, perhaps a chain, all around his home state. All the while I’ve encouraged him to create a system that someone else could manage, but there never seemed to be enough time. Well, now there was time.

I interviewed this person every day in the hospital, wrote down his thoughts and noted all the tasks he performed during a typical day in the restaurant. I created a database of suppliers, vendors, customers, and anyone he could think of that would want his concept to succeed, and, when we reached out to them, you wouldn’t believe the outpouring of help he received! From the waitstaff and managers to vendors and third parties, everyone rallied to support him. They all wanted to help this chain continue and expand beyond my friend’s wildest dreams.

I taught him how to monitor his restaurant’s results via a laptop that retrieved information from every store and helped him understand data analytics, which he had never worked with before. He learned that his instructions could be passed on to team members from his bedside and saw, to his amazement, that his absence from the store allowed his team to step up and perform better.

The moral of this story: Don’t let a health emergency force you to discover how many people want you to succeed and will gladly work harder for you. Doing everything yourself might land you in a hospital bed. Ask for help before this happens to you!