If you have children and they become ill, that can be just as challenging as getting sick yourself. Jody Lomenzo Bolstad, founder and owner of Richmond, Virginia, public relations firm The Weland Group, can attest. Ten years ago, when Lomenzo Bolstad gave birth to her daughter, Joanna, a month early, the challenges became overwhelming. "I had a difficult labor and delivery," she recalls. "As a result of a long induced labor, Joanna had a cerebral hemorrhage. We went through several hellish days-MRIs, spinal taps and other tests. She had a 10-day hospital stay, during which I stayed at the hospital." For the next six months, Joanna remained on a breathing monitor and required regular check-ups.
With several projects outstanding during that time, Lomenzo Bolstad called on a freelancer to help keep the ball rolling while she tended to her baby. And although Lomenzo Bolstad-who also had hand surgery last year as a result of carpal tunnel syndrome-and Joanna have since recovered, the entrepreneur remains true to the lessons she learned during those earlier experiences. "I've learned that you really want clients you can work for," she says. "Translation: human beings. My clients get sick. Their kids get sick. They understand when I say 'I'm sick.' "
Sick or not, you don't have to say yes to every client. Read Who's In Charge Here?-after all, you're the boss.
Most clients will understand that, provided you're upfront with them, notes success coach and trainer Annaliese Furnas of Balanced Life Design in San Francisco. "I operate on the theory that honesty is the best policy," she says. "If I'm feeling miserable but am able to work, I simply explain to the client that I'm feeling under the weather and ask their patience and understanding with my sneezing, sniffling and low energy."
And while Furnas also recommends building a network of colleagues who can help you complete your projects if needed, she also advises caution: "[It's] crucial to have connections with colleagues you can trust not to steal your business."
If nothing else, an illness can help you weed out undesirable clients. If a client gets angry because you need to tend to your sick child or make arrangements for a colleague to take over a project, he or she probably isn't worth your time. "We're all human," says Furnas, "and if a client can't understand something that basic, then it's not a client I want to do business with."