I don’t feel well! We all have days when we are under the weather and as self employed business people we just get on with life. But what happens to your business if you become seriously ill?

Last summer I was struck down with colitis, an illness which slowed me down dramatically, I just couldn’t do my job effectively for a few weeks. This did have a negative effect on my business. Fortunately I do have a store team of great employees who can undertake the day to day operation of the business.

During this period my time in store was very limited so while I could keep the most important tasks under control. The strategic tasks that I normally undertake such as buying new products, remerchandising, marketing or data analysis got missed. As the store lost a little focus this did have some impact on sales. The part of the business that I missed most was meeting and talking to our customers.

After investigation and treatment I have fortunately recovered from the illness. The weeks of enforced ‘rest’ did give me the chance to think about the threats that my business faces and opportunity that we have. We are surrounded by every national supermarket, the regional convenience store operator GT News has 2 stores and there are symbol stores as well. Competition is tough so I know that I have to offer what our customers really want.

Also included in the mix were the horsemeat scandal, fresh food and the Family Shopper discount model. With all the media attention about the squeeze on household incomes I thought that our offer needs to reflect this as I know from talking to customers that this very relevant. Getting back to work armed with a plan has guided me to resharpen the store and make some small changes to test some of the ideas that I developed, more on these soon.

As I discovered, serious illness is something that can strike without warning. Is the way you organise your business fit to survive your absence? If its not and you are doing too much it’s time to up skill your team.

What are your top tips for dealing with a bout of illness?  Share your experiences in the comments below.