The Australian Small Business Blog

Thursday, October 06, 2011

When Illness Strikes a Business Owner - Thank God I Had a Stroke

When we have a serious illness we seldom think that we are lucky. But in my case I had two serious health issues occur at the same time and I could honestly say ‘thank God I had a stroke’ because when I did, the Doctors also discovered that I had a brain tumour pushing against the brain stem. The seriousness of this tumour (as it was not malignant) was in getting it out, as it was 7 centimeters deep within the brain. The stroke was relatively mild; the tumour was life threatening.

When one runs their own business with their spouse and they suffer from such illness, what happens to the business? In fact a business really ceases to function at this time or goes under altogether. My husband (Peter) was perhaps suffering more than me. He had to keep my spirits up, travel long distances daily to me in hospital and had to look after my 90 year old mother (as I was her official carer). I believe his level of concern was even greater than mine.

It was a tough few months and the last thing on our minds was our business. If your business is big enough to have staff and you have a procedural manual in place, then the business can probably keep running. But if the business is just run by you, then the business literally stops.

As I gradually got my strength back and the nauseous feeling ceased, I began to think about the business again. I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to use the computer (my business was an online one) as one of the problems I now suffered from was that I could not read. It was with some trepidation that I first went to use the computer – and to my delight, I was able to use it. I could still type/write and my reading was slowly improving.

I believe one of the reasons that our business survived was because we had a good data base and an autoresponder and my husband was able to keep clients and suppliers informed as to what had happened and how I was progressing. Clients were simply giving me the time I needed to get back into action. Being an online business, there were still visitors to the website and orders coming in. Peter simply informed them of what had happened and offered to refund their money. Every single one said they would wait for me to improve.

I am now writing a book titled ‘Thank God I Had a Stroke’ so that I can motivate and educate those who have had a similar problem or have a family member suffering from a serious health issue.

Read more of Barbara’s Journey here

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