Sick Days as a Home Business Owner

It's really hard to take a sick day when you own a business. Sometimes, though, you have no choice. Here's how I handle sick days as a home business owner.

I feel awful right now. I started feeling sick a couple of days ago, but I still did some work (but not as much as needed to be done). Yesterday, though, I felt bad enough that I had my husband take me to the doctor. It's been years since I've felt sick enough to go to the doctor. I have some antibiotics now and feel a little better today, but I'd really like to do what I did yesterday — spend the whole day resting in a (legally-obtained) drug-induced haze.

However, it doesn't exactly work like that when you are self-employed. There is a dark side to working from home on your own schedule. You can't just call in sick for three or four days when you feel like this. Some things need to be done. Deadlines need to be met. None of that goes away while you are sick. In fact, it just piles up. And, since you aren't on salary, with paid sick days as a benefit, you either get that work done or you don't get paid.

How to Handle Sick Days as a Home Business Owner

I had to take a sick day yesterday. It was all I could do to get on the computer and Skype, tweet, and email a few clients about my situation. Luckily, most of the people I work with are awesome and understanding. But contacting them is important so that they know what is going on and why you are slow to respond.

I'm lucky in that, with my freelancing business, I can usually shift things around a little bit. That flexibility is key. With my schedule, I try to create my own personal due dates for client work. That way, I still have flexibility if I can't get to something.

For some home businesses, though, it doesn't work like that. You might be selling a product, arranging for shipping, or scheduling a Very Important Meeting that can't be put off or that you will have a hard time rescheduling.

Tips for Dealing with Sick Days as a Home Business Owner

When you have to take a sick day, it helps to have a plan.

  • Delegate: Sometimes, if you have employees or a partner that can help, it makes things easier. A little delegation can ensure that everything that needs to be done is handled.
  • Prioritize: Determine what needs to be done when you feel better. Figure out which projects need to be handled as soon as you have the ability to get back to work. You may have to rearrange your work schedule, but that is usually possible. I didn't do any work yesterday, and after a shortened work schedule the day before, plus extremely slow going today, I already know that I will spend all day Saturday working. It's a bummer, but that's how it is.
  • Get the rest you need: Too often we push ourselves and draw out the illness. You need to be fit as soon as possible, so rest. You'll get better faster if you recuperate. However, if you feel up to it, you should probably attempt to do something. I'm working today. I'm moving extremely slowly and pausing for naps, but I am working through my mountain of stuff that needs to be done.
  • Communicate: Let editors and clients know where you're at. If you have products, let customers know there is a shipping delay.
  • Automate: Productivity tools abound. If you have tweets and other social media posts scheduled out ahead of time, you're in a good place to take a day off. Create systems that you can rely on when you have a sick day.

Bottom Line

It's never fun to be sick. And sick days as a home business owner can be tricky. However, if you have a plan in place, you're more likely to get through it with your business mostly intact.

5 thoughts on “Sick Days as a Home Business Owner”

  1. Tiffany @ Who is Tiffany

    Getting sick as a solopreneur is rough. I have learned over the years that as soon as you can afford to outsource things and get an assistant, you should. Sometimes you just have to take a little time to yourself, and it’s nice to know that the world won’t fall apart even though you feel like you are. 😉

    1. Miranda Marquit

      I really need to work on delegation, and hiring someone to help. But you are right that it would really help, since it would take some of the pressure off.

  2. See everyone? Being self-employed isn’t as glamorous as you think. I end up sleeping a few hours, then working an hour, back and forth. I think we just feel like we can’t take off, though I know our clients wouldn’t care.


    1. You make a good point. Sometimes we get caught up in thinking that we CAN’T take time off, but really it’s a self-imposed issue.

  3. Katie Brewer, CFP? (@KatieYRL)

    Ugh! I hate this part of being self-employed. It was little easier with a firm to call in sick and know that “maybe” someone else would cover for you. Feel better soon!

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