If you are self-employed and find yourself in a position where you can’t carry out your work, what will happen to your clients?
My visit to A&E
I recently became ill for the first time since becoming self-employed. It started off with mild headaches and by the end of the week, I found it difficult to look at light, my head was constantly pounding and became worse every time I moved my head. I was constantly sweating and by Friday, I added neck stiffness to the ever-growing list. I was still working throughout this but by Friday lunchtime, I sent a message to my client to say that I really wasn’t feeling well and I will be logging off. I’m not sure how I managed it but I completed all the tasks she needed me to do.
After calling NHS Direct, I was advised by the on-call doctor that I should immediately go to A&E. He mentioned meningitis on the phone but it didn’t register with me until I was in the taxi. The waiting time at the hospital was four hours but I was seen incredibly quickly and the nurses and doctors who looked after me were friendly, quick and efficient. I was only in the hospital for about five hours and while I was there, it got me thinking: if it turned out that I was seriously ill and needed to stay in the hospital for a few days, what would happen to my clients?
Hit by a bus plan
I had heard people mention the ‘get hit by a bus’ plan but it was something I had never thought about seriously. Before I started my business, I had always been an employee so if someone was off sick, it was the responsibility of my employer to deal with the workload. More often than not, any extra work was shared with colleagues.
Do you have a plan?
After being discharged from the hospital, I posed the question to other small business owners asking how many of them had a back-up plan; some said it was on their to-do list, some said it wasn’t something they had even considered, but only a handful said they had a plan. By raising the question, it made a lot of them think about the seriousness of what would happen to their clients and their businesses.
Another SME story
I recently arranged for a company to clean my windows and guttering. After confirming to the owner that I was happy with the quote and wanted to proceed, it took a week to receive a reply from the owner to say that he had snapped a part of his Achilles tendon and had to cancel all his work.
Another week passed and I was surprised to receive a call from him asking if I was happy for him to carry out the work and would be at my home within the hour. I had mentioned that I was writing this blog and he told me that he didn’t have a plan. He wasn’t in a position to lose any work and he had no-one else to carry out the work if he had allowed the hospital to put his leg in plaster. He also told me he had a heart attack a few years ago and was advised that he needed to take quite a few months off to rest, but he was back to work three weeks after being discharged from the hospital.
I have my plan. What’s yours?
Since my brief visit to hospital, I now have a note on my desk so my husband knows who to contact and I’m in the process of teaming up with another Virtual Assistant to take on my work so my clients don’t have to worry about who will carry out their work if I am unable to do it.
If you don’t have a back-up plan, it may be time to seriously consider your options and to put a plan in place.