I haven’t posted in a few days and this time it wasn’t because of school, it’s because I’ve had either a wicked cold or the flu. I’m still not “well” but I’m much better, thanks.
I mention this because when you run your own business, getting sick is something you don’t usually plan for. You just cross your fingers and hope it doesn’t happen and when it does, far too many of us keep working. Both of these are lousy ideas.
When I got sick, the very last thing I wanted to do was miss class. Taking a day off from law school can easily put one significantly behind. However, going to class when ill increases the likelihood that I will get worse and end up missing more than one day (it also is unfair to others since I’d be spreading my germs all over the place, but for this post, let’s just be “selfish” and worry about ourselves). So, I made the “executive decision” to take the day off, crawl into bed and try to get well. And even though I hated missing that day and knew that I would have to make up the work somehow, this was the right thing to do.
When a small business person like a photographer gets ill, s/he needs to get well as quickly as possible too. The best way to do that is to “go down” early and give your body a chance to heal. Even when that means canceling/rescheduling a shoot–it is a better way of handling getting ill. Clients will understand. Even better, if you can pass the project on to a friend to shoot (if it’s not really a vision-based project), even though that means you losing most or all of the money for that shoot (it would be good to arrange this ahead of time), that would be a great idea because it would show the client how important they are to you. They’ll remember that you went “above and beyond” when they needed you. This is fabulous client service.
Of course, if you do this, you need to offer the idea to your client. Calling them up and saying “I’m too sick to shoot, but my friend and fellow photographer Bob Bobovich said he could step in and do the shoot. Would that work for you?” If it’s not a vision-specific shoot, they might say “great thanks” but they might not–they might be so impressed with your gesture that they’ll say (if they have the time) “Let’s reschedule instead.” Either way, they will remember you positively and you can bet they’ll come back to you again–even if the other photographer does a great job for them!
Getting back to you, something important to think about: what if it isn’t a cold or the flu? What if you get really sick or injured? Do you have a plan in place to keep your business alive if you are incapacitated for more than a few days? The time to make such a plan is before it happens. Part of the plan should be disability insurance, even if you don’t have a family to take care of, but especially if you do. Do this now, before you need to think about it.
And take care of yourself. Lots of people are getting sick this time of year and it’s no fun. But it’ll pass and when you feel better, take a moment to be thankful for your health. I know I am.