How to handle an emergency when you’re a one-woman show

When you own your own business, you wear a lot of hats. You are the provider, CEO, CFO, marketing department, and blogger…what don’t you do!? Turns out you are also your own human resources department.

When you have issues with a client, you figure it out. If you need a sick day, you juggle your schedule to accommodate it. But what happens when a true emergency comes up? Suddenly you are not available to keep up with the workload that only you know how to do, and your business (and income) comes to a standstill.

I found myself in this situation last year and learned 3 valuable lessons that I still carry with me to this day. I was due with my second child and making arrangements to take a twelve week maternity leave. I planned to work up until my due date and felt I had everything taken care of.

As fate would have it, none of my plans came to fruition, as I went into labor a month early. Not only that, but our son’s lungs were underdeveloped, and he had to spend some time in the neonatal intensive care unit. I went from feeling like I was on top of everything in my life to spending my days sitting in his hospital room crying.

However, from this challenge came two amazing outcomes: first, a healthy and beautiful baby boy and second, a much-needed evaluation of my career and systems. Because I suddenly could not keep up with my frenetic pace, I was forced to take a hard look at how I was spending my time and if my actions truly aligned with my vision for my career. I only had time for the absolute essentials, which gave me a lot of clarity on tasks I no longer needed to be doing.

If you find yourself in this same boat and feel like you are drowning in emotions and to-do lists, know that it will get better. Each day you will do your best to care for yourself, your family and your clients. Here are 3 rules to help get you through the hard times.

Rule #1: Plan Ahead

The time to plan for an emergency is now. Take a look at the vision for business and then at your day-to-day tasks. Are you focusing your time on tasks that only you can perform, such as brainstorming products and writing content? Or have you fallen into the black hole of constantly posting to Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest? Start thinking about how you could delegate these nonessential tasks now. Could you afford a virtual assistant a few hours per week or take on a free college intern? No budget for help? Try automating your social media and email marketing.

Once you’re focusing on the business tasks that only you can do, write down your plan for an emergency. If you’re a blogger, could you stockpile some written blog posts that you could use if suddenly you couldn’t write? Reach out to colleagues and help each other. Write guest posts for each other or compare notes on your emergency plans.

Rule #2: Accept Help

The upside of tragedy is the support you will receive. This support could come in the form of your mom bringing over dinner or your friend offering to reach out to your clients on your behalf. Whatever form it comes in, always accept the help. In the midst of an illness or emergency, you will only be able to focus on one thing at a time. Everyone in your life will want to make your days a little easier, so please let them.

Rule #3: Give Yourself Some Grace

Your business may not to run the same way it always has, and that is okay. The day my son was born, I completely dropped any work for 2 months, and the outcome? I am now working fewer hours while creating a higher income. I suddenly could not keep up with my normal tasks, which caused me to examine everything I did. I realized how much time I wasted on little day-to-day tasks that take only a minute or two, but add up over time. Once I cut out the tasks that no longer served me, I was left with more time and freedom.

Evaluate your processes.

Make a plan.

Know you will be supported.

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