When you run your own business from home, you wear many hats. You are the CEO, CFO, copy writer, and photographer, just to name a few. Well, it turns out you are also your own human resources department. When you have issues with a client, you figure it out. If you need a sick day, you juggle your schedule to accommodate it. But what happens when a true emergency comes up? Suddenly you are not available to do the work that only you know how to do, and your business comes to a standstill.
This very thing happened to me a few years into my freelance writing career. I was pregnant with my second child and making arrangements for taking some time off. I was due on Christmas, so I knew I would not be taking on new projects from January to March. In order to accommodate my maternity leave, I took on a lot (I mean A LOT) of projects at the end of the year.
As fate would have it, many of those projects had to be postponed, as I went into labor a month early the day after Thanksgiving. Not only that, but our son's lungs were underdeveloped, and he had to spend some time in the neonatal intensive care unit. I went from feeling like I was on top of everything in my life to spending my days sitting in his hospital room crying.
However, from this challenge came two amazing outcomes: first, a healthy and beautiful baby boy and second, a much-needed evaluation of my career. Since I was unable to think, let alone craft valuable content, I was forced to take a hard look how I was spending my time and if my actions truly aligned with my vision for my career. I only had time for the absolute essentials, which gave me a lot of clarity on tasks I didn't really need to be doing.
If you find yourself in that same boat and feel like you are drowning in emotions and to-do lists, know that it will get better. Each day you will do your best to care for your family, and the business will always take care of itself. Here are 3 rules to help get you through the hard times.
Rule #1: Plan Ahead
In hindsight, I had not planned very well for my maternity leave, and I certainly did not plan on anything other than a perfect labor and delivery. The time to plan for an emergency is now. Take a look at the vision for business and then at your day-to-day tasks. Is there anything you can cut out altogether? If not, what tasks can be put on hold if you are suddenly unavailable? Is there anyone else who can take over, such as a virtual assistant or friend?
Rule #2: Accept Help
The upside of tragedy is the support you will receive. I was just floored with the number of friends and family members who insisted on bringing us dinner, babysitting our daughter and sending warm thoughts. When you are spending your days in a hospital room, there are only so many things you can accomplish, so accept help in all forms.
Rule #3: Give Yourself Some Grace
The business is not going to run the same way it always has, and that is ok. The day my son was born, I put off work for 2 months, and the outcome? I now have more clients and am making more money than ever before. I suddenly could not keep up with my normal tasks, which caused me to examine everything I did. I realized how much time I wasted on social media or comparing myself to other writers and bloggers. Once I cut out the tasks that no longer served me, I was left with more time and freedom.
Finding yourself in the midst of a loved one's medical emergency is always heart-wrenching, and the last thing on your mind should be work. Know that you can be fully present for your family, and your business will be waiting for you when you are ready.