As I raise myself weakly onto one elbow, and take my pen within my shaky grasp to write these few words, mustering my frail energies to bring my thoughts to you…I say just this…don’t get sick!
Okay, so there was a tiny bit of exaggeration in that first sentence. I mean, it was only a cold, with a fever and a sore throat. Hardly the end of the world. However, for a solopreneur who depends on her wits, even a few days where those wits cannot be accessed due to an internal fog of headache and dizziness can spell disaster if deadlines are looming. Don’t get sick has a hollow ring as far as advice goes when we all know that illness or accident is usually unpredictable, and always inconvenient.
Unlike our colleagues in salaried positions, we may not have paid sick leave, and, more to the point, may lose valuable clients if we are so ill that we do not turn up on the appointed day. For example, if you are a trainer, facilitator, consultant or coach, your presence is required.
General advice to business owners is to delegate so that you and your business are not one entity. But if you are a sole business operator, what’s the answer? Here are three things to think about.
1. Call for back-up
This doesn’t just mean having all your info ready to go, but also having a colleague who may be familiar with some of your material and methods and who might be able to fill the gap in the short term. This person has to be absolutely reliable and trustworthy, and perhaps you can return the favour by being their back up. Another way is to have an online course or material that you can refer clients to in the meantime. Naturally both these suggestions are highly dependent on the circumstances, but worth consideration.
2. Contract cover
Make sure your agreement with a client has provisions in it for what will happen if you are ill or injured. Clients are taking a risk dealing with a solo operator and they like to know you have thought about the risks of something slowing down or halting the delivery of the service.
If possible, discuss what might occur in regards to the project if you, or even someone on their team, is unable to deliver in the required timeline due to unforeseen events, and include your decisions in the contract.
3. Actual insurance
Worries about covering your overheads while you are not earning could be something that works against you feeling better fast. Income protection and health cover is available for small business owners, but it can sometimes be more expensive than the healthcare itself, especially if you are in the start-up phase.
Do some research and some sums and work out if putting aside a small amount each month in case of unpredictable health issues might be an option that would work for you.
Right, I’m worn out now. Back to tea and tissues.