Entrepreneur vs Flu - What's Plan B?

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One thing most startups and small businesses don't have enough of is sick days. It is something that I'm personally very aware of, having had to take a sick day in my business today. When it's your business, it is tough to "take a day off" when you typically work eight days a week. It especially hurts if taking that day means your business isn't moving forward.

While I don't want this column to harp on the health care debate in Washington, Terri Lonier, President at WorkingSolo.com, told me she believes "The Entrepreneurial Spirit would be unleashed in the US if we had better access to health care. Of course there are economic consequences, but in my experience, people who are ready to run their own firms stay as W2 workers due to challenges getting insurance. Illness underscores the reality that many entrepreneurs are their business. They should have contingency plans in place for someone to fill in for client or customer obligations when they're not able to."

Elizabeth Brooks, managing partner of Str.ate.gy knows about that "plan b." She has a small team, but she's the creative lead on almost all her projects, and many can't move ahead without her input. "The world stops when you are incapacitated. I've had the situation where I had a minor outpatient procedure, but had no idea if I would be on painkillers, or how long it would take for me to recover." She had people who she trusted completely, but "It is always difficult when it is a creative decision since no one will make it the same as you would. Creatives are often very 'type A' and hard to relinquish control - but you need to have that backup person." She advises that for each initiative, for each item, hand it to the person on your team with the most appropriate background. Or, give it to someone who you trust as a partner who you work with often. "You have to have faith in your ability to choose great staff, or great partners. Having been a corporate executive helped me learn to do that."

Mark Tafoya, owner of the Remarkable Palate personal chef service , and co-owner of the Culinary Media Network
said the biggest problem is "you're the guy. If you are sick, you can't work. On the media side of my business I could work from home, but as a Personal Chef, it's irresponsible for me to cook for others when I'm not healthy. I pass the job to someone else, and end up losing the money from that day's gig, but it is the right thing to do. The benefit of being a chef, though, is that I'm much more aware of being clean, and I wash my hands all the time. I actually am getting sick less often."

What's your plan B? Let us know in the comments.

Last updated: Oct 28, 2009




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