Today I was reminded that I’m not infallible. I woke up on this chilly Monday morning with a splitting headache; one that refused to go away, despite taking a mountain of Advil and slamming coffee like it’s the beer at a frat party (my normal headache fixes).
Normally, a headache like that wouldn’t be a big deal. I work from home—I can just drop what I’m doing, take a nap, and come back stronger the next day, right? Except that doesn’t work this week. This week, I have ten gagillion things on my to-do list. It’s the start of my interns’ rotation for the non-profit I work for, I have endless admin tasks to complete for my business, three clients’ websites in the works, and a personal project launching next week that I have to finalize.
Basically, I had nowhere to turn for relief. My only option was to push through it, do what I had on my schedule, and suffer the consequences. The consequences being a throbbing pain behind my right eyeball and an ache in my jaw from clenching my teeth while I breathed through it. Doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, does it?
Push through it is exactly what I did. I made phone calls, answered emails, designed pieces, wrote content, and put my liver in jeopardy with the number of pills I swallowed. Funnily enough, the headache lingered. Think it was because I didn’t slow down long enough for my body to rest? For my eyes not to be staring at a computer screen? That’s what I think. But I’m stubborn, and in reality, who was going to take care of those things if I didn’t?
I’m not at a point in my business where I have an assistant to handle things when I’m unavailable. I have no one to rely on who can take over the small tasks until I’m back on my feet.
What’s really ironic about the whole situation is that I’m currently working with a client who specializes in teaching other entrepreneurs how to set up their business so it can continue running if they’re unavailable. If they were to be in an accident, have a life event come up that interferes with work, or—on a much smaller scale—wake up with a headache that makes you wish the sun didn’t exist simply to blind you.
I’ve been thinking for weeks, since first talking with this client, that I need to put some systems in place to cover me and my business if I’m suddenly struck down with a case of the plague (or an unexpected surgery, if you aren’t as dramatic as I am).
So that’s what today’s post is all about. Setting yourself up for the unexpected. I’m going to walk you through a couple really easy ways to prepare for an emergency that derails your schedule. Because while I was able to work through my headache today, that might not be the case next time, and I’m determined to be ready for that eventuality.
How To: Keep Your Business Running when Faced with a Personal Emergency
While what I’m about to walk you through are some great little tips and tricks to get you started, they’re just the beginning. You really should invest some time and effort into getting your business prepared for the unexpected.
Tip 1: Set up an email autoresponder
When you aren’t feeling well, your email should be set to auto-respond to client questions, letting them know that you’re out of the office and will respond to them as soon as you’re available.
Tip 2: Find an emergency buddy
For times when you end up in a situation that’ll take more than a day or two to solve, you should have a reliable friend you can turn to to help run things while you’re out. Ideally, pick someone who knows a little bit about what you do, so they can determine easily whether they can help your clients or not.
Give them access to your email account (and any other account they may need), so they can respond to questions, or direct your clients to someone who can. Make sure your buddy knows enough about your work-in-progress that they aren’t flying blind. Set them up to help you succeed.
Tip 3: Be prepared with a list of people you can pass your clients off to
If you’re in an extreme situation where you won’t be available to work for days or weeks, or even months, you need to be ready to hand your clients off to someone who can take over. I know this is a painful thought, but isn’t it better to take care of your clients’ needs and keep them happy, than to drag out their project past deadline and make them angry with you?
Angry clients talk to others, and can quickly trash your reputation in your field. Don’t let that happen! You need to have a business with a good reputation to come back to, so give your clients the respect they deserve by sending them to someone to finish their project while you get back on your feet.
There are tons of other ways to make sure your business stays on track while you’re away. It’s worth the time (or money) to get yourself set up for a disaster. Don’t let this go until it’s too late—prepare yourself now!