This time last year I had just taken on a few new clients, was pleased with the way my business was growing and although I was a little nervous of how I was going to juggle the kids as we headed into the summer holidays, I was confident I had enough summer camps, early mornings, late nights and camping planned that the kids would have fun and I could still get my work done.
That all went out of the window on Canada Day when my husband ended up in the hospital for 2 weeks. Family had to come first and the business pretty much got dropped, instantly. Financially, we were OK on my husband’s salary, but more of a concern was the fact that I could have lost valuable clients and affected by credibility as a serious business going forwards. Thankfully, I had some great friends who helped me with some pressing work tasks, great clients who graciously allowed me the time I needed for my family and the chance to learn from the experience to the benefit of my business in the future.
As a solopreneur, here’s what I learned about ensuring your business doesn’t go under the bus whenever there’s a family emergency:
- Have some kind of emergency plan in place. Have at least one other person as an administrator on your social media accounts, make sure that somebody has access to your customer contact info and consider giving somebody authority to access your computer files. At a minimum, somebody should be able to let key clients know that you are away dealing with an emergency.
- Don’t procrastinate. I’m the first to admit that I tend to work to deadlines, but if you do and you have even a relatively minor emergency (2-3 days of a high fever) you will add to your stress by knowing deadlines could be missed. Set yourself up with a system to ensure that deadlines are met, if possible, with one week’s lea-way to avoid this.
- Look for collaborative opportunities. We’re not all in a position to hire a 2nd pair of hands in the business, but that doesn’t mean we can’t forge creative partnerships. I have since teamed up with Kerry Sauriol of SAHMedia and the Broadcast Your Biz collaboration has been a wonderful experience for growing my business. Moreover, there is also a potential advantage that if I had another family emergency, Kerry knows about our current projects, knows exactly where I’m at and could likely keep things ticking over for at least a week or two. Similarly, I can do the same if something came up for her and her family.
- Take the time to build strong, authentic relationships with your clients. It is far easier to test a relationship with a brief interruption in service when you have taken the time to build trust and strength in that relationship.
Family emergencies will always be difficult on a solopreneur, but with a little advance planning, it doesn’t have to create a full business emergency as well.