A Small Business Owner’s Guide to Running a Business While Injured or Sick

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When you’re an employee, an injury or illness is simply a minor setback. There are laws in place that protect your job and may even compensate you for lost wages. You also don’t have to worry about the business going under in your absence. There are other people who can step in and cover for you. But when you’re a business owner or sole proprietor, these situations are a bit stickier.

As a business owner, there isn’t always someone who can step in. Without a plan, your business could fall apart in your absence. Then there’s the issue of money. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid. For long-term injuries and illnesses, this is problematic. Knowing what to do in these instances could help you save your business.

6 Steps Business Owners Should Take

Every situation is unique. Depending on the extent of your injury or illness, the size of your business, and the competency of your employees (if you have any), there will be certain decisions you have to make. However, in most cases, the following suggestions are applicable:

1. Seek the Right Medical Treatment

Trying to work through an injury or illness doesn’t win you any awards for courage – it typically only makes things worse. Your primary focus is to get better. This means seeking out the right medical treatment and following your doctors’ orders.

It’s important that you don’t just treat the symptoms of your injury or illness. Doing so may provide temporary relief – possibly even allowing you to return to work – but it’ll lead to further complications in the future. It’s best to deal with the underlying cause now so that you can return at full strength.

2. Hire a Lawyer (if Necessary)

If you’ve been injured as the result of someone else’s negligence – like in a car accident – it’s smart to hire an injury lawyer to help you navigate the complexities of your claim. The right attorney will help ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. (This could mean the difference between returning to your business swiftly and struggling to reach a fully recovery.)

3. Determine What You Can Do

Take the time to determine what (if anything) you can handle while you’re away from the business. For example, if you have a leg injury and are forced to stay in bed, you can almost certainly still field emails and make phone calls. Or if it’s your arm that’s broken, you could possibly be present at meetings or make it a point to visit clients. If, on the other hand, you have a serious illness that requires heavy medication and lots of rest, there probably isn’t much that you need to be doing.

4. Automate and Outsource as Much as Possible

As you recover, focus on automating and outsourcing as much of your work as you can. This can happen via automated solutions, hiring freelancers and contractors, or even retaining the services of another business to handle certain aspects of your company. If you have adequate financial resources, you can make any business problem go away.

5. Put Someone in Charge

In addition to automating and outsourcing, it’s a good idea to put someone in charge of the business in your absence. This individual should be trustworthy, communicative, and experienced with the ins and outs of the business. They should be expected to provide detailed daily reports to keep you abreast of what’s happening.

6. Consider Insurance Options

Finally, consider any insurance options you have available to you. This may include a disability insurance policy and/or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). This is also a good time to plan for the future. While it won’t help you now, securing disability insurance for future injuries or illnesses could make your life a lot easier down the road.

Prepare for Better Days

In the midst of a serious injury or prolonged illness, it’s easy to feel as if everything is caving in. If you aren’t careful, pessimism will get the best of you. By adopting a proactive approach to your business, you can quickly get things under control and focus on recovery. Better days are coming – be patient!

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Anna is the founder and CEO of Johansson Consulting where she works with businesses to create marketing and PR campaigns.