Samantha McDonald

We all get sick sometime. And guess what… so do your clients. They will understand.

The world keeps spinning

I was speaking with a lady this week – let’s call her Jan – who owns a rather successful boutique training company. She does all of her own marketing, all of her own PR, answers her own phones, and does all the training.

She’s very good at what she does, and she has rightfully earned the respect of her clients.

Six months ago, Jan became a mum for the first time. She was lucky enough to have a fabulously breezy pregnancy and has been able to keep her business running smoothly before and after the birth.

That was until this week… Her gorgeous baby son has become ill and has desperately needed his mum with him fulltime. He won’t accept anyone else looking after him, and he’s completely wearing her out with his crying and clinginess.

Now, this presents somewhat of a problem for our Jan. She has only ever missed a training day once since she started her business three years ago, and that was because she herself was very sick. And now she’s been forced to cancel all engagements this week, and it looks like she may have to do the same for next week.

Jan rang me in quite a panic, wondering how on earth to deal with her clients who, she was certain, would never use her again because it’s so unprofessional to cancel a “gig”. I told her to take three deep breaths and then gave her the following advice:

Be honest with your clients – We are all human. They have no doubt been faced with similar issues themselves in the past, and will be again in the future. These things happen. We get sick, our children get sick, and the world keeps on spinning. Tell them the truth, and that you’re very sorry for the inconvenience, and it’s unavoidable that you need to stay at home with your sick little one.

Offer them a little extra – If you feel like your absence may put you on the wrong foot with your client, offer them a little something extra to soften the blow. Perhaps a few free hours of work, or something else that relates to your line of business. You may even send them a couple of movie tickets for the inconvenience.

Get some extra help – It can be extremely stressful looking after a sick child, and it certainly can take your attention away from your business. Consider getting a little extra help in the meantime. You could get someone else to answer the phones (try a virtual assistant), and develop alliances with other people in your line of work who could possibly take over from you for a while. Or maybe you could get some help around the house.

The most important thing is to keep as calm as possible. Remember that you are in a situation that is temporary, and everything will be fine in a week or two. Just remain calm and professional, and you’ll be ready to pick up the baton when you get back in the race.


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Sandy Naidu of writes: Great advice… Especially the “being calm” part. I am a work-at-home mother and my younger child is 11 months old. He is with me 24/7. Quite often my day does not go as planned. If I get worked up about this it only drives me crazy and in the process he gets more cranky. Rather I have learnt to remain calm and rejoice in the fact that eventually he will get tired and fall asleep and then I can get my work done.



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