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How to Manage Your Small Business When You’re Ill

I completely understand this sounds like a strange topic to discuss.

No one wants to be ill, it’s almost impossible to plan when you’re going to be ill and therefore it seems like trying to ensure your small business continues to be a success when you’re ill is something you simply can’t do.

But the fact is, we’re not discussing how you should prepare for when you’re definitely going to be ill, but instead planning for its eventuality, which is likely to occur at some point in time.

Like I said above, we can’t tell when we’re going to be ill (or how seriously) and therefore as small business owners, you can’t say for definite what you’re going to need to do.

However, this is exactly the same as the complaining customers situation- you never know exactly what a customer is going to say when they complain, but you put the tools and resources in place to ensure you can deal with them in the best way possible when a complaint is made.

So what do you need to do when it comes to planning for time off because of an illness?

With lots of little details to consider, there’s one point that’s always strongly advised to do – and thats to have an understanding with someone. whether that’s a member of staff or a relative, that should the worst happen and you’re completely bedridden, they’ll be able to keep things ticking over.

If you’re an established business and have a number of employees, this is actually likely to be relatively straightforward – at least one member of staff is going to know the vast majority of what goes on, even if they’re not involved directly themselves on a day-to-day basis.  Therefore, by showing them the bits they don’t know, a quick call when you’re ill should be all it takes to put your mind at ease that your business will stay afloat.

But what about if you don’t have any employees? Then what do you do?

In these instances – such as those where you’re a sole trader operating an online store – it’s always a good idea to have someone you can rely on to put an ’emergency plan’ into place.

What this plan can be will vary from business to business, but the most important point is to have someone who can implement it.

For instance, if your business is only in its infancy, you aren’t getting many orders and you think you’re only going to be away for two or three days, all your plan could be is for someone to put a comment on your checkout page saying delivery is going to be delayed by up to five working days.

OK, so someone non-technical might not be able to do this themselves, but they’ll be able to send an e-mail to the person you’ve stated could do it.

If you’re going to be off longer or for an indefinite amount of time, then the plan might be more in-depth.

For example, you may have someone carry out all of the necessities within your business – monitor your orders, have them sent out and reply to e-mails, answering any they’re able to and for the ones they can’t, simply explaining the situation.

It’s going to take a few days of training and shadowing, but if the person needs to be called upon, it’s guaranteed to be time well spent.

No one wants to be ill, but especially not small business owners, as even just a couple of days away from their fledgling business could be devastating.

But that’s only if you don’t plan and prepare in advance.

With plans differing massively depending on your business, generally speaking the most important point is to have someone you can trust make sure things stay afloat, reducing any negative impact on your business’s reputation and growth until you’re well enough to return.

This post was originally featured on March 19, 2013.

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