Before I started my own small business, I fully believed no one should come to work if there was a chance they’d infect other employees in the office. In a larger business, there always seemed to be more time to get things done or someone else to take over temporarily if someone wasn’t able to come to work.
But when you’re the only one and a client is waiting for you to finish a project, priorities change and you feel the need to keep going no matter how you’re feeling.
So far, I haven’t missed any deadlines because of an illness and neither have my partners (knock on wood). But I also think the way we set up our company in the beginning allows us to keep it together even when one of us is under the weather.
Here are a few things we’ve learned over our years of business ownership:
- You need to communicate. No one is an island in business and everyone knows everyone’s business. It has to be that way for a small business to survive. We all know what the others are working on and can jump in if need be. We do this by constant communication, either by email, text, or phone conversations, and by keeping documents in the cloud for easy reference.
- Build a buffer. We’ve learned leaving things until the last minute is a big mistake. If a deadline is Wednesday, we have it done by Monday. (One of my partners even has it done the week before.) That way, if one of us is overwhelmed or gets sick, we’ve built in some time to still meet our deadlines.
- Make health a priority. No one does their best work if they’re not feeling well, so we have found it’s better to first take care of the sickness and then take care of the business. If you don’t take some time to rest and recuperate, the illness will just linger. We also discuss health topics and share health tips. We all try to eat right and exercise – and we’ve learned it pays to talk about it because that helps each of us stay on track. We’ve learned that to keep our business healthy, we need to keep ourselves healthy so neither suffers.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website SmallBizDaily.com to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.