Life can suck.
It can sucker punch you in the gut when you least expect it. A few years ago, my family experienced heartbreak like no other. My niece passed away unexpectedly and it forced me to see how fragile my business is (not that I cared about my business for a while).
I wrote Keep Moving Forward - How Walt Disney Taught Me to Move Past Tragedy & Heartbreak in an effort to show how life can shatter your personal world and can also cripple your business at the same time. It's one of the reasons I write about preparing your business for any eventuality, including life-altering events. It's always my hope that you never have to experience this pain. But if you're self-employed long enough, something will happen in your personal life and your business will suffer.
That's just how life works.
Life circumstances can impact your health, both mental and physical. You could be tired, depressed, sick, angry, stressed, or unfocused. You could become distant, irrational and irresponsible, which is a recipe for business disaster. I want your business to weather whatever storm you face, not be an unfortunate victim.
Here're a few ways you and your business can handle whatever life throws at you:
Literally no one wants to talk about planning for tragedies. Although my insurance pal shares that two out of every three Americans don't have the cash on hand to pay for a $1,000 emergency. She says this "proves the need for savings and disability or other supplemental medical plans (accident, hospital indemnity). Could you afford a $1,000 outlay for a medical emergency? If not, please consider setting up a savings account."
Each of us has different needs and different situations. Talk to insurance specialists about your options and the best plans for you. I know it's not fun to think about, but it could save your business. We were fortunate enough to have the right insurance during two emergency situations over the past 20 years and it's one of the reasons why we still have a business.
Don't Stop Moving
Your personal situation doesn't have to be a horrific tragedy. There are a million tiny stresses on our lives that can impact our businesses. Maybe it's a health scare, childcare problems, a leaky roof, or you're experiencing a relationship issue. Relationship issues can seep into our thoughts when we least expect it and can make us want to simply go home and cry.
Relationship expert Alexandre Cormont says:
"The best way to quickly bounce back after a breakup is to force yourself to be as active as possible. You literally have to force yourself to get out of bed and to leave your house in order to fulfill goals that you will set for yourself the day or the week before."
This is what kept me sane during the most stressful time in my life. Set a schedule and keep it. I know you don't want to - I've been there. Just get up, stick to a routine and keep moving forward.
Keep Communicating and Networking
Let's say your 10-year-old son just had an emergency appendectomy (been there, done that). You'll be at the hospital worrying over your pride and joy and hopefully, you've created an emergency back-up plan in case of emergencies like this. Most clients will be incredibly understanding in times like this if you offer them a solution or alternative.
But what about clients in your sales pipeline?
Craig Moore advises that "having communications with people will ensure that if needed, you'll be able to reach out to an existing group instead of starting back from square one." If you don't have an assistant or trusted peer to handle your communications, on all your platforms including email and social media, you'll have to do this yourself. You don't want to get through your crisis only to find out you've lost contact with your entire sales pipeline.
It's not always easy to ask for help. Yet, the only way out of a stressful personal situation is to get professional help. Help comes in all forms, including doctors, friends, consultants, books, teachers, spiritual advisors and even online forums. Odds are that the problem you are facing isn't new or unique (although it can feel that way) and others have faced similar issues.
Reaching out for help can be incredibly difficult, but if you know it's the right thing to do.
Surviving the Unsurvivable
No one in business really talks about "feelings". Instead, we talk about business. We pretend because we don't want to show our vulnerability and perceived weaknesses. We don't want to seem like we don't have EVERYTHING under control. We don't want them to know the truth.
But here's the thing. We all have days when we are horribly distracted, completely stressed out, and feel like we are drowning. No one can escape life.
And this is what real life is like.
Instead of hiding under the covers, create a crisis plan for your business. Maybe you're not feeling this way today, but you never know what may happen tomorrow.