When someone is running a small business, he or she is juggling quite a few tasks and is already often working more hours a week than someone with a traditional nine to five job. If a family member develops a long term illness, most entrepreneurs are overwhelmed by all the additional responsibilities. Does this mean that a small business owner with a sick relative should fold the business and start applying for an office job? Not necessarily. In fact, after the first few overwhelming weeks, most small business owners actually are better able to juggle the additional tasks they need to take on than people with traditional jobs.
Caring for seriously ill family members while successfully running a business requires entrepreneurs to stay organized, to prioritize tasks, to delegate projects to others and to be creative.
Use Calendar Software to Keep Track of Appointments
Hopefully, most small business owners already use calendar software to help them remember all the deadlines, appointments and other important events going on. If not, this is the ideal time to start. It can be very easy to forget that a sales rep was coming by for a 10 am appointment when a medical specialist a family member needs to see is only available at the same time. Having a calendar enables even the most overextended entrepreneur to spot potential conflicts and avoid missed appointments.
Google Calendar and Windows Live Calendar are two free options for those business owners who don’t currently use software to keep track of appointments.
Use Time Management Skills – Learn to Delegate
When time is at a premium, dividing tasks into those that the small business owner must do and those that someone else can do is one of the easiest ways to create free time. Even a business owner who doesn’t have employees can delegate tasks. Virtual assistants, temp workers, book keepers, cleaning services, lawn care services and other contractual workers can temporarily take on many tasks that the business owner has been doing. Once the routine tasks have been delegated to other people, the business owner can then concentrate on two essential jobs: tasks that earn money and caring for his or her loved one.
Use Creative Thinking to Find Outside the Box Solutions
When someone is recovering from an illness, it can be hard to leave him or her for a few hours to run a business. The small business owner may feel so guilty and worried that he or she can barely focus on the task at hand. While a nurse may be too expensive or not quite necessary, there are some other options that can reduce the stress and worry.
- Barter with a neighbor. Agreeing to do a small job for free or to provide materials at cost in exchange for having a neighbor look in on the patient a few times a day can give peace of mind without straining an already anemic budget.
- Cut back on hours – While offering clients fewer hours isn’t ideal, it can be a temporary solution. Pinpointing the hours or days when business is slowest will enable the business owner to cut back on hours without unduly inconveniencing customers. If he or she does decide to cut back on hours, making new signage that clearly lists the new opening and closing times is a must. Customers understand a change in operating hours, but coming to a closed building and seeing signage stating that the business is supposed to be open is a frustrating experience.
A serious illness in the family can make running a small business a real challenge. However, by recording all appointments, delegating non-essential tasks and using creative thinking, a small business owner can reduce the stress of juggling care for someone who is ill and the daily operation of a growing business.