Well, I got sick. And getting sick as a business owner is not an option.
The world’s worst head cold set up shop in my sinuses for 9 days. All I wanted to do was breathe, but I couldn’t do that because of the constant sneezing and coughing. Then, I abandoned all hope of breathing and just wanted to sleep. But I couldn’t sleep because of my newly-developed smoker’s cough. It’s was a rough few days.
The sickness started slowly…I ate lunch that day and sneezed a few times. No biggie. Then, as the day progressed, I went through a box of kleenex. Odd, I thought, but maybe it’s just the allergies I refuse to admit I have. Then, it hit me all at once.
By 8pm, I was officially sick.
As I was changing into jammies, I knew I couldn’t take my clients’ calls the following morning. The first thing that happens when I get sick is the loss of cognitive function. Processing information becomes impossible. Remembering details is out of the question.
I HAVE A BUSINESS TO RUN!
I can’t get sick.
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
My body wasn’t giving me any option – I had to admit defeat and rest. And, things got worse. I will spare you the gross details, but being sick for 3 workdays is terrible when you’re a service provider who owes deliverables to their clients each day. Being sick is terrible when you have a team that needs direction from you. Being sick is just awful, but when you’re running your own business, it’s even worse.
Here’s the good news: neither my world nor my business turned into a dumpster fire. Nope, things kept on chugging along. It was a slower pace, but it at least things were still moving forward. I was completely out of it for 3 days and had lingering effects well into the next week, but things still moved forward.
Here are the 3 reasons why my business survived when I got sick as a business owner:
1. Immediate communication
As soon as I knew I wasn’t feeling well and needed to rest, I communicated with my clients. I was honest about what was happening, and gave updates as the week went on. I let them know if I was going make the meeting or be on my computer at all. I did my best to reschedule for a time that worked for them.
And as soon as I was better – not 100%, but better and online consistently – I communicated that too. No one wants to hear that you can’t keep toast down, but they want to stay updated on a surface level.
Don’t forget, your clients care about you. You’re a real person, and you matter. Your clients want you to be healthy and to produce good work for them. Because I communicated from the very beginning, they were compassionate and checked in on me. They understood when I couldn’t be on a call and were happy to reschedule.
2. Working ahead
Call me super Type-A. Call me a non-procrastinator. Call me overly-prepared. Call me whatever you want, but I like to work ahead.
First, I work ahead because that’s just my process. I was never the college student that pulled an all-nighter and turned in a paper. No way! I finished the paper a week ahead of time, so my friend could peer-review it which gave me plenty of time to send my paper to the writing center for one last review. I made final edits, and turned in my paper. This process has carried over to my professional life – for better or for worse.
Second, I work ahead because things come up….like getting sick or grandparents in the hospital or a basement flooding. You can’t predict any of this, but at some point, something will come up that will pull you away. Working ahead makes you feel a little bit more prepared for the unexpected.
- I work ahead by getting newsletters and blog posts pre-written and scheduled.
- I work ahead by planning out social content.
- I work ahead by creating project plans with realistic timelines and milestones.
But honestly, I work ahead so I can say to myself, “Thanks, Past Amber. You made life easier for Future Amber.”
Here’s the best part – if a client really needed something from me when I was sick, I can say, “I’ve started the project and it’s saved in Google Drive. You can see the progress I’ve made and, if it’s necessary to be finished at the moment, you can pick up where I left off.” Clients feel much more prepared too because I’m not waiting until the last minute to start their project.
3. Systems and processes in place
With systems and processes, a lot of things happen automatically – which means my business is moving forward and I don’t have to touch it.
- Invoices get send and paid.
- Potential clients can schedule a time to meet with me.
- Current clients can see what I’m working on with shared Google Drives.
- My VA can move forward with her projects because we have prioritized her work.
I don’t recommend getting sick. Apparently, there are all sorts of things you can do to prevent sickness (like eating right and drinking water and exercise and seeing the sun), but I’m no expert. It happens. Getting a cold happens.
You can get sick and rest well knowing your business will not fall apart in the meantime.
If you wish you had the tools to (1) immediately communicate with your clients, (2) work ahead with confidently, and (3) create systems and process to make things run more smoothly, I can help you.
Let’s schedule some time to chat
In the comments below, tell me if you’re prepared to take a few, unexpected days off from your business. Or are you afraid it would all fall apart?