I’m going to share a very personal story. My sister-in-law (who was a devoted entrepreneur herself) was recently killed in an automobile accident -clearly a tragic event that has changed me forever. As part of the healing process I’d like to share with you some of the valuable lessons I’m learning as both as a business owner and as a human being.
Being self employed, in my case as a micro business owner, can be one of the greatest freedoms imaginable. It’s why many of us start businesses. We determine our own schedules, make rules that suit our lifestyle and passions, generate revenue from our own efforts, and most importantly, are the creators of our own future. That is, until life happens – suddenly, the unimaginable happens and it all comes to a screeching halt and the flip side of being a micro business owner becomes painfully obvious.
If you stop working, no revenue is generated. If you don’t answer email, the pile gets overwhelming fast. Pause your marketing efforts and your pipeline slows to a trickle. But, most of all, your customers rely on you to keep delivering the products and services you are there to deliver.
Paradoxically, it’s a no brainer. Something of this magnitude happens in your life and of course you stop. Everyone understands. There’s plenty of encouragement and support to take the time you need. But it doesn’t mean it’s easy to do, in fact – it often adds more stress to an already tweaked situation.
The blessing in this difficult experience is the powerful reminder that behind every business is a life – your life. It’s so easy to get caught up and forget that the health of your business is only as good as the health of its owner. Just as you need to have proper insurance coverage, if you sustain a loss of your physical property, you need to have proper life coverage to support you as well.
Here’s a few things I’m learning you need in order to have and maintain the proper coverage to manage life as it shows up, as it often does, sometimes in very unexpected ways:
Insure a reserve of personal “energy equity”. This point has to do with self care. Just as you need reserve funds in the bank to cover emergencies, you need to have reserves in your energy bank account to draw on when you need it. If you’re always living on the edge you won’t be able to weather extra stress very well. Even if you can only save the equivalent of $5 a week – save it.
Cut yourself some slack. Give yourself permission to not be perfect. Many entrepreneurs feel they have to give 150% all the time. For example: With everything going on I agonized all week knowing I needed to get a newsletter out by the first of the month. Frankly, I couldn’t imagine where I’d find the energy to write, let alone the inspiration. Never the less, it’s a commitment I’ve made to myself that I wanted to honor.
At the eleventh hour I decided to cut myself some slack and simply reprint an article from my archives. As I stood in the shower feeling the relief of my decision wash over me, the title of this article popped into my mind. I knew in that moment it was OK either way. I had a choice. I could easily reprint an article or pull out the laptop and see what might flow.
Say yes to support. The most amazing part of this experience has been the onslaught of people from all corners of my world showing up and asking if they could do anything to help. In this particular circumstance it’s sometimes hard to know what you need, let alone ask for it. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable teaches you to go with the natural flow of life instead of against it. It actually promotes healing and forward movement and, from what I can see now, provides a blessing for the people doing the supporting.
There are many opportunities in business to ask for and receive help, support or guidance. Begin practicing when the stakes are low, so when the stakes are high, in a time of crisis, you can save yourself some vital energy instead of over stressing yourself out.
In the next few days we fly to Santa Fe for her memorial service. For now, I’m going to take my own advice, cut myself some slack and return to the reality of what’s happening in my life behind my business.
It’s YOUR life …imagine the possibilities!