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What happens in your business when your life is in crisis?

Business in crisis

My husband has had two near death experiences. What was supposed to be fairly straight forward hernia surgery and an overnight stay, turned into major complications with internal bleeding, bottoming out blood pressure, gas bubbles in the chest and a fear of lung collapse, and 4 nights in ICU.

All of this happened right at the end of a very busy BAS period. The world didn’t stop while our family was in crisis, it just kept turning and things still had to get done. And as much as we could plan for the initial surgery, we couldn’t have foreseen the following complications. So what happens in your business when your life is in crisis?

Trust your staff

I’m a bit of a control freak. I generally put too much pressure on myself and work long hours to get things done. Not that I don’t trust the ability of my staff, but it’s my business so the buck stops with me. As soon as I told my staff there were complications and Jason was in the ICU, they stepped up. Don’t get me wrong, my staff are amazing when there is no crisis! But this was a time when I definitely didn’t need to be worrying about whether wages were being paid or BAS’s were being finalised. I had complete faith that my amazing staff were keeping things ticking along without me.

Talk to your clients

As a client, there’s nothing worse than being told something will happen and it doesn’t; there’s no communication and you’re left wondering what’s going on, and questioning the integrity of the person you’re doing business with. There’s nothing wrong with showing your human side to your clients, and letting them know that you’re in crisis. Talk to them! I didn’t broadcast what was going on to all my clients, but the ones I was in contact with, I did tell them what was happening. Their work still got done and they were kept in the loop. They’re all human too and can understand and empathise when your world turns upside down unexpectedly.

Learn more: Documented systems and why they’re important

Life is too short

When I was pregnant with Mr 8, Jason broke his arm. It was a really bad break that left him not working for nearly three months. When baby was two weeks old Jason had a fat embolism from the broken arm cause a heart attack. This was definitely our wake-up call and we learned that you just never know what’s around the corner so live life now – don’t wait! We work really hard to create memories as a family, because you can’t make memories when somebody isn’t around to make them with! Last week was another reminder that life is too short. So please – use the good china; take the holiday; go to the concert; indulge in some luxuries; start the new project; hang out and be silly. Please, please please – don’t wait and make excuses about when would be a better time, because by then it may be too late!

It’s okay to get emotional

As many of us do in stressful times, last week I went into auto pilot mode. I was busy running back and forth to the hospital, making sure the kids were okay, making sure my staff were going okay without me, making sure everything and everybody was okay – except me. It seemed selfish to worry about me when Jason was so gravely ill, and my kids were so obviously struggling. My emotions could definitely wait! But of course they don’t – they just bubble away under the surface until they’re ready to escape. Mine escaped after Jason came home. By that point he was definitely out of the woods and firmly on the road to recovery, so why did I cry for two days? And still feel like I’m holding my breath and as soon as I breathe out I’ll break down again? Because I was so busy being strong for my family. But it’s okay to have your own emotions during a crisis. Call on your friends, family and colleagues and surround yourself with all the love and support that they’ll so willingly give.

Learn more: How to survive being a working parent

Prepare for the future

You have insurance in case of disaster. You have a will in case of death. What do you have in place in your business in case of personal crisis?

Who do you have to keep the business going while you’re dealing with your personal crisis? Trusted staff? Colleagues? Industry association? Think about what would happen if you were taken out of the business for a period of time, even a few days, and how that would look. Will the business run okay without you? Or will it come to a grinding halt and add to your stress levels? What can you do about that?

What sort of relationship do you have with your clients? Will your clients be loyal to your business, offer a helping hand or a listening ear, and be there when you come out the other side? What can you do to nurture the relationship you have with your clients so they’ll be there for you during and beyond times of crisis?

Are you living to work or working to live? I’m very passionate about my business and love what I do. But I also love the freedom and flexibility it gives me to take a 3-day camping weekend once a month; two holidays during the year; time away from my business to go down to the school for something special happening with the kids. Does your business allow you time away for what’s really important??