Most business executives have disaster plans for business, contingency plans for travel disruption and backup plans for the carpool schedule. But do you have a contingency plan for yourself? What will happen if you get sick and have to go to the hospital for an extended stay? Or what if a family member is diagnosed with a chronic illness? Your world can turn upside down when you least expect it, and unless you are prepared, it can affect your personal health and professional success as well.
My husband, Gene, and I owned a small business and we experienced such a crisis a few years ago when he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Considering options to manage your career could become a necessity at any time. Your meeting planning skills can help you get things organized to keep you on track even when you do not have control of the entire situation. These tips will save you time and assist you when a crisis hits home, especially if you are an entrepreneur:
- Find flexible ways to conduct business. Often, I took my laptop and cell phone to doctor appointments and the infusion room where Gene received chemotherapy. Sometimes we would be there from an hour to three hours and I could work during the wait.
- Delegate more. Communicate with a designated key person at the office, allowing that trusted individual to take over routine tasks and communications. Cloud-based document sharing can be extremely helpful.
- Maintain strong relationships with your clients. Make business appointments early or late in the day if necessary, but don’t neglect the face time your important clients expect.
- Hire temporary help and consider other stopgap measures for the short term. Don’t refuse offers of support to handle the pressures and challenges personally and inside your business. I accepted the compassionate offer of a competitor in our industry to respond to inquiries and help me with logistics.
- Guard your time. Have a point person who can update your friends about your situation, so you are not spending time repeating information to numerous people. Set up a website or have a friend send out emails when changes occur. Check out websites such as www.caringbridge.org, www.lotsahealinghands.com and www.thepatientpartnerproject.com.
- Keep your mentors close. Learn from others’ experiences. Get support on all levels—business, practical, emotional, and spiritual.
- Use task-management tools and scheduling software to prioritize your work tasks. List five or six things you want to accomplish each week.
- Make decisions in 12-hour increments. Decide what decisions are necessary for the next 12 hours rather than for the entire week, and you will make better decisions.
- Focus on what is most important; give yourself permission to put the business on the back burner. Forget being superwoman or superman.
- Take care of yourself so you can be at the top of your game as an advocate and caregiver. Try to eat healthy, keep up your exercise routine and maintain a positive attitude.
The preparations you do today can pay significant dividends in the event of a crisis and in the overall value of your business should no crisis occur. Take the Boy Scout motto to heart: “Always Be Prepared.”
Betty Garrett has spent more than three decades in the training, travel and hospitality industries. Her company, Garrett Speakers International, is based in Irving, Texas. Reach Garrett at email@example.com. Check out our website at www.garrettspeakers.com.