Illness, death, divorce, natural disasters – these events can turn your world and your business upside down. I know because I recently experienced my own personal tragedy.
Seven weeks ago, I received the unexpected news that I was pregnant. Surprised, to say the least, my husband and I welcomed the news with great excitement. From the start, this pregnancy was different from my first, but from everything I had read and from everything that I had heard this was to be expected.
You see, my first pregnancy was easy. No nausea, no mood swings, no complications, in fact, I was able to work all the way up until my due date. This pregnancy, however, was totally different. I was riddled with nausea, mood swings, and spotting which made me very anxious, to say the least. Being a nurse, sometimes I think I know way too much information for my own good.
At my seven week checkup, I was scared to death that I had miscarried, because of all the bleeding and spotting that was occurring. But to our amazement and joy there it was, a tiny little heartbeat seen on the ultrasound. At this point, I felt more relaxed and secure about the pregnancy, because once you see the heartbeat, your chances of having a miscarriage go down significantly.
It was at this point that I started telling people about our news; I was just too excited to hold it in, I couldn’t wait until the 12-week mark.
My next appointment would be in four weeks, during this time we went on vacation and started talking about names and plans.
We returned from vacation fully relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready to hear out little peanut’s heartbeat at our 11-week checkup. The nurse practitioner tried to find the heartbeat using a Doppler, but she was unable to hear anything.
At this point, I started to worry. The staff moved my husband and me across the hall to perform an ultrasound. Still no heartbeat. It was then and there that we learned that the fetus was no longer viable and that it had stopped growing two weeks prior.
I have had friends and family members that have gone through a miscarriage but never had I experienced one myself. And until you go through it, you will never know how sad and heartbreaking it can be. I couldn’t look or talk to anyone for a couple of days. Reliving the experience right now brings tears to my eyes.
Now, what do you do with your business when tragedy strikes?
Here is what I have learned and I hope it will help you if you ever have the misfortune of having a tragedy, illness, or loss in your life.
1. What is Your Business Structure?
For me I am a solopreneur, I do not have any regular full-time or part-time employees, so when something happens or needs to be taken care of, the sole responsibility rests on my shoulders. However, I do work with some wonderful women that I contract with on a fairly regular basis (web programmer, graphic designer, and a virtual assistant) that can assist me when I need help. I also have some regular blog contributors and guest bloggers that help me with content creation. Whether you’re a small business owner with a handful of employees or a freelancer or solopreneur, you need to know who will take care of business when you’re unable to do so.
2. Know Your Personality Type.
Knowing your personality type can help you create a backup plan for when the unexpected pops up. I am a total Type A personality, I’m responsible, rational, and very time-oriented. While I am sensitive, I tend to bounce back quickly and seek out the positive aspect of situations.
However, if you are more of a sensing and feeling type of person, you may need a longer amount of time to heal and recover. Knowing your personality type will allow you to generate a plan that incorporates how you personally deal with stress, sadness, and distress allowing you to take the amount of time that you need to recover fully.
3. Open Up the Lines of Communication.
Keep the lines of communication open. If you have a project that is due or an order that needs to be fulfilled, directly contact the client and let them know that you are dealing with a personal issue (how much detail you tell them is totally up to you). Many times the client will feel compassion and will work with you to extend the deadline. However if the deadline is unable to be extended, you will need to either suggest another reputable source to complete the project or recruit some help from family, friends, and colleagues to get the task completed. Remember to create an email auto-responder letting clients and potential clients know that you will be taking some time off.
4. Enlist Support.
When tragedy hits, you will need to take time off to heal and mend. This is the time to call in support. Whether it’s calling family and friends for domestic help or business-related help. I am fortunate that my husband, my family, and my friends are all so supportive and offer their help and assistance freely. I’ve also had numerous online friends, colleagues, and people I barely know, offer their assistance to me. Not only does this help alleviate the stress of having to run a business, but it makes me feel loved and supported which all helps in the healing process.
5. Have a Backup Plan.
None of us like to think about death, illness, or loss, but it happens. Creating a backup plan way in advance will alleviate stress and will help you to start the healing process sooner. Make sure you have a master list of tasks you perform, important numbers, email addresses, passwords, user-names, and make sure to have all of your files backed up and stored somewhere secure (fire, flood, and earthquakes can destroy your business files in an instant). By doing a little pre-planning, you can focus your attention on getting back to normal, and your business won’t have to suffer.
So sorry for your loss. Having walked this road twice, I know how difficult it can be. You are right to think about putting your business affairs in order-as well as your personal affairs. None of us knows when tragedy will strike. It’s a sobering reminder to put some assistance in place if we haven’t already.
As for the healing process, it’s takes time. Like the others have said, I can still remember the dates and exactly what happened when I realized that I was miscarrying. You never forget but the pain does soften and in my case, spurned me forward with my current business. So sometimes things aren’t all bad. Those little souls come to us for a reason, even if they are only with us for just a wrinkle in time.
Do let us know if we can help at all! Blessings!
Holly - The Work at Home Woman
Thanks Darline! I’m sorry that you’ve experienced two miscarriages. For me, it has helped tremendously to talk to other women who have gone through the same thing. Thanks for your kind words and support.
I do not know you, but happened by here tonight, thinking I have visited your blog before. I read your story and maybe the best that I can tell you that your sadness and grief are real and normal. I had one miscarriage 42 years ago and one 41 years ago. There was no explanation, it just happened, somehow life went on. Those two babies are never forgotten. Sometimes I will be talking to someone and realize that I am old enough to be their mother. You go for a check-up and the doctors always ask, how many pregnancies, how many live-births. I know you are sad and you have every right to mourn your loss with your family and friends.
As to business, being prepared and having a disaster recovery plan is always good business. But somehow I find that most people who do business with a small business respect and expect that real life emergencies will happen. In the past ten years, we have weathered a lot of health emergencies and somehow our clients understood and stood by us. Take care.
Holly - The Work at Home Woman
Thank you all for your well wishes and kindness, I can’t tell you what it means to me!
Judy – I agree, with small businesses, especially woman-owned businesses they tend to be more understanding.
Carole – Thanks for sharing your article, it looks like some valuable information for small businesses owners! I’ll be checking that out.
Holly- I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your story and for being so brave to tell us how to keep going. I have witnessed two very close friends struggle during tragedy with their business. It is very hard when we are the only ones doing “everything.” This is a reminder that I really need to have a back up plan. No one really understands everything I do, but me.
Take care of you! We all are here if you need us.
So sorry for your loss, Holly and thank you for sharing with us. You are a remarkable woman and the information you have passed on is invaluable.
I’m so sorry you had to go through that, Holly, and thank you for using it as a way to help us in our businesses. I can’t imagine how hard that must have been to write. The women in my family have all had miscarriage trouble (some multiple times) so this piece really struck me.
It’s so encouraging to see that a strong woman can survive even the most personal loss without coming apart at the seams.