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Keep Your Head

How to keep your homebased business running strong in the middle of a personal crisis

This story appears in the October 2000 issue of Entrepreneurs Start-Ups magazine.

It can happen in an instant. One moment, you're happily running your business. The next, you're unexpectedly thrust into a personal crisis like the death of a loved one, a divorce or an illness. And everything changes.

"I think, 'How did I do all that?' " says Ellen Cagnassola, 33. Cagnassola was ready to start her Fanwood, New Jersey, soap business, MaryEllen's Sweet Soaps, when her father-in-law was rushed to the hospital after a long fight with prostate cancer. Suddenly, Cagnassola found herself balancing a start-up, a 3-year-old daughter and a home-cleaning business-all the while knowing she had to say goodbye to a loved one. "I visited him daily, sometimes two times a day," she recalls. Totally exhausted, she got in a car accident right before Christmas. "I had a $500 deductible on top of it all," she sighs.

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