By March 15, 2012 Read More →

Illness/injury and the home business owner

Claire Melvin - illness:injury and the home business ownerIt’s what every freelancer dreads – not being able to work due to illness or injury. Claire Melvin describes how she’s been coping with not being able to bake:

I’ve learned some very valuable lessons over the last four weeks. The first lesson I learned was that it’s not a good idea to chop nuts in a hand blender. A trip to A&E and a fractured finger are testament to that particular lesson! I have also learned that I’m not Superwoman, I can’t do everything myself and it’s OK to ask for help.

As a small business owner, the onus is on me to stay fit and healthy, so I can run my business effectively. As a 5-9er, I’m juggling many balls at the same time. I have late nights, early starts and you name it, I do it for my business. It never occurred to me that I could be ill or injured and I didn’t make any contingency plans. If I were ever to be unable to fulfil an order, I have friends (and ‘competitors’) I could ask, but that’s as far as it went.

So, my accident turned out to be quite an eye-opener. I had to turn down work, I turned down a tv appearance and I’ve had to let down a regular customer (I supply my local deli with cake several times a week). I hate saying no and I also hate letting people down, but if you’re ill, or injured, there’s not much you can do about it. The one thing I couldn’t get out of was a wedding fayre which I had booked. I was amazed at the offers of help I received – friends offered to drop everything and come and help me. I did something I don’t normally do as I am a control freak who likes to do everything; I said ‘yes, thank you’.

It may sound strange, but I don’t actually regret my injury. It has made me have a long hard look at myself and my business, which I hadn’t done beforehand. I realise I need to have plans in place should I have another daft moment; I need to plan website updates in advance as I have been unable to do them all and my newsletter was sent out 2 weeks late this month; I’m not invincible and I can’t do everything myself and lastly (and perhaps most importantly of all), I’m not on my own. Help is only a phone call away.

Claire Melvin runs Claire’s Handmade Cakes in south west London.

Posted in: Health

7 Comments on "Illness/injury and the home business owner"

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  1. Cindy says:

    Thanks Claire for this testimonial.
    Since I started my business I’m even more aware regarding colds, flu and all these silly little illnesses that are a big “NO” when you work in a food business.
    Hope everything is fine for you now.

  2. Judy says:

    Eek, I hadn’t even considered that, Cindy! Nobody would have wanted food I’d made over the last few weeks 🙁

  3. Neil says:

    Sometimes these things are nature’s way of telling us to slow down and take some time out. This is why balance is so very important.

  4. Sheila says:

    I sustained a back injury skiing at Christmas and although January is a quiet month for me I had a large order to fill waiting for me when I got home. I had no option but to work as best as I could. It took much longer than usual and has taught me I need to have plans in place for emergencies.

    • Judy says:

      Yes, it’s easy to take good health for granted. I certainly feel I have, and assumed I could take on more and more work. As Claire says, accidents and illness can be useful in making us take a realistic look at our expectations. I hope your back is healing, Sheila.

  5. amy says:

    I had to take a month off from work because of some health problems. I was doing so many hours a week with my business and missing hours of cooking nutritious food that my cholesterol shoot up. After the break, with rest and medication, I had my cholesterol return to normal and I am much better coping with the business now. I sincerely hope the same for you, Claire (and Sheila). Let’s put that balance between work and living healthy.

  6. Hi Claire,
    many thanks for sharing, it’s a good reminder to all of us small business owners. I hope you are all mended now and back in action :-). I had a similar wake up call when my partner sustained a broken collarbone after a bike ride we did. It really made me think! It would have been very difficult indeed to run any first aid courses for a number of weeks if this had happened to me (demo CPR with a broken collarbone anyone??). Accidents usually happen when we don’t pay attention because our minds are too busy trying to do too many things at once. I for one am proud to state that I am NOT good at multitasking and certainly don’t enjoy it. I’m a great believer that things happen for a reason and what a great experience having all these people coming to help Claire :-).

    Here’s a link to a great book I got for Xmas: “”