You’ve been going great guns in your business.
Sales are growing, social media numbers are up, you’ve found your flow, and your mojo has never been better.
Something happens that you have no control over. Perhaps you get sick, or you have a family emergency, or your anxiety flares up and you just want to sit on the chair, in your jimjams, watching Netflix.
What do you do?
It’s so hard, because for the majority of small business owners, WE are our business. If we’ve been lucky, or super organised, then perhaps we have contingency plans in place for when this happens, but most of us don’t have a team of people behind us, who can take over the reins when disaster strikes.
Firstly, don’t panic.
Okay, allow yourself 5 minutes of panicking, then stop and take a breath.
Make a list.
Write down all the things you have booked or scheduled for the next 3 days. Then decide which things absolutely must be done – no questions, no arguments.
Then look at that list again. Do those things really have to be done? Will the world come to an end if they are postponed for a few days? Will your clients really leave you?
Once you have decided what you are able to put off, communicate with the people who will be affected by your time away from your business. Re-negotiate timelines with clients or suppliers, set up an automated response on your phone and email, write a post in social media.
Often when we communicate with people, they are more than willing to be flexible with their requirements. If the situation were reversed, wouldn’t you want a supplier to take care of themselves or their family first? We are all human, and we all have lives and relationships outside of our work, and these lives and relationships are usually the reason we go into business in the first place.
I have never been angry with someone who was telling me they needed more time due to illness or an emergency. Quite the opposite in fact, I have felt nothing but compassion and empathy, because I know that these things have happened to me. People generally want to be supportive, it’s human nature. And if they don’t? Well, that says more about their values, than it does yours. Perhaps they’re not the right supplier or client.
Listen to your intuition.
If you are sick, your body is trying to tell you something, and it’s important you listen. Trying to persevere when you are run-down, exhausted and stressed, will just prolong how you are feeling, and may in fact, cause more serious problems. Give yourself time to recover, properly recover. Sleep, hydrate, eat good food (with the occasional treat thrown in for good measure), rest, watch Netflix, whatever healing looks like for you. The more you look after yourself, the quicker you will heal. If necessary, see the doctor, see the physio, see the psychologist. Make the time and get it done.
Support might be in the form of an assistant who can take over some of your day to day work tasks, but it might also be in the form of a family member or friend helping you with non-business tasks. Perhaps taking the kids to school, making dinner, going to the shop and getting you Tim Tams. We get so used to doing it all ourselves, that we are often rubbish at asking for (and accepting) help. Those who care about us, want to help, they just often don’t know what to do. It is up to us to tell them how they can help us, not just get frustrated when they don’t automatically know what to do.
Looking after others.
If your time away is due to the needs of others, there is nothing to feel guilty about. I’ve had to take time out to look after my kids when they’ve been sick, or if they’ve needed emotional support. They have to come before anything else, because their needs simply won’t wait. But it doesn’t matter if it’s our children, our parents, our siblings, our partners, or our friends, these are the people that are the biggest part of our lives. We don’t need to explain to others why we have to re-schedule our work load, we can simply explain that there is a situation we need to deal with.
Review and re-negotiate.
If you find after a few days, that things have not improved, and you need more time, then you need to go back and communicate with your clients and/or suppliers. Most people are highly flexible as long as they know what’s going on.
How many times have you got thoroughly annoyed when chasing a supplier who hasn’t updated you? I know I have. I’d much rather they get in first, and let me know there’s been a problem with a delivery, or a schedule. It feels as though they genuinely care about me and my business.