She was in deep denial. Here she is, powering through the presidential campaign that could change history, putting a woman in charge of the free world. Pursuing a lifelong dream that she came so close to eight years ago and missed by that much. It’s two months before the election that will change everything for her – and she gets that twinge of a sore throat. No! Unacceptable. She pops a Cepacol and moves on with her ridiculously busy schedule. Then the nose starts going. The post-nasal drip. That cough. Allergies, it’s just allergies. She pops an Allegra and keeps going. Sleeping 3 to 4 hours a night, probably. She is the Woman Who Would Be President. No virus is going to stop her! When she got the formal diagnosis of pneumonia from her doctor that Friday, she was like, “Oh we’ll see about that. Bring it!”
I know this is what happened because my husband and I do exactly the same thing. Our desire to build a successful business and real estate empire is slightly higher than Hillary’s desire to become President. She’d beg to differ, I’m sure, but you get the idea. Every self-employed business person we know takes the same approach – there is no time to be sick. Take a pill and power through it.
That’s what Hillary did – she took her doctor’s antibiotics but threw the 5-days-rest order in the hopper. And there she was, looking pallid, coughing in public, and finally stumbling out of a 9-11 ceremony early when her body just couldn’t take it anymore.
Hillary Clinton took her sick days at the same point we self-employed entrepreneurs take ours – only when we physically can’t work anymore. This, folks, is not good!
Our household has been sick for a month!
Savannah brought the virus home from day camp in mid-August. I rushed her to urgent care on a Friday night with what I thought was a bad ear infection – turned out her throat was so swollen it was crushing her Eustachian tubes mimicking the symptoms of an ear infection. They gave her oral steroids for the swelling and instructions to let the cold take its course, which it did, through the entire family over the next month!
This is a particularly nasty virus that attacks your weaknesses like a supervillain in a good DC comic. It ran its course through my daughter and came back as an honest-to-goodness ear infection. I caught it and it developed into the sinus infection from Hell. And Steve took two shots to the chest.
What can stop a determined entrepreneur from working his customary 15 hour days?
To say my husband is a workaholic is an understatement. He’s like the freaking Tasmanian Devil from the Bugs Bunny cartoons – it’s hard for me to keep up with him. I have to try, though – I’m in charge of the accounting and of building some kind of structure for our rapidly growing business. Steve has his hands in everything – he’s a licensed realtor specializing in commercial property, he’s a landlord and an investment guide to other landlords buying rentals in the area. We’re flipping a house in Avoca (more about that next week!) And he’s one of the founders of Investors Network NEPA (www.investorsnetworknepa.com) - the monthly meeting he had to miss on Wednesday because that day he was diagnosed with both mono and pneumonia!
And he actually asked me if I thought he should go to the meeting.
Well, I said, would you like to go to the hospital? Because that’s where you’ll end up if you go to that meeting! Our family physician actually tried to admit him to the hospital, but Steve refused. The doctor only relented because the chest x-ray showed Steve’s liver and spleen were not enlarged, so he would allow home recovery only with strict limits on activity!
That is what it takes to stop the 15 hour work days.
Why do we self-employed do this to ourselves?
If you were working for someone else and you got a double diagnosis of mono and pneumonia, would you go in to work? Hell, no! You’d tell your boss “sorry, Cuz, I’m out for a week at least!” Then you’d shut off your phone and turn on Netflix without another thought.
Self-employed people can do that, too. But then your business comes to a grinding halt. And that’s why we try to power through, making ourselves miserable, endangering our health, and possibly prolonging the original illness.
There is a wonderful organization called Business Debtors Anonymous. I stumbled upon them by accident online. They’re part of Debtors Anonymous, which grew out of Alcoholics Anonymous, as a similar 12-step program to help people with compulsive debting. Some members of Debtors Anonymous were also business owners, so they formed the subgroup BDA to address the specific issues of business owners, entrepreneurs and the self-employed. And it isn’t just money and debt they address. Here are BDA’s first 4 “Tools” for business owners:
- We keep separate professional and personal financial records and bank accounts.
- We write annual one-year business plans with definable and accountable goals & targets.
- We keep clean, orderly and accurate financial records, including Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Cash on Hand, Inventory, Assets, and Outstanding Debts, and put all tax and bill due dates on our calendar.
- We pay ourselves a salary including benefits, medical insurance, vacations, and sick days.
BDA’s premise is that, to be successful, we need to be organized and crystal clear about our income and expenses. That is where my focus is now. Steve is the whirling dervish, I’m doing my best to keep him organized and get our business on a clear path to success. If we’re both whirling dervishes we’re going to crash!
BDA also points out that we will crash if we live in a state of deprivation for the sake of the business. That means when we’re sick, we need to take sick days.
There are no Lone Rangers – ask for help!
One great thing that’s come out of the digital age is there is no longer any reason a self-employed entrepreneur has to go it alone. We can connect with others like ourselves without even leaving the home office now. Sites like Bigger Pockets for investors and Mr. Landlord for rental owners are great resources. There are Facebook groups – a new one just popped up for Luzerne County landlords started by a kindred spirit of mine, Christa Lee. Christa is a mom and a landlord with a self-employed husband. She graciously lets me publish this blog on her site.
After a month of iffy health, we realized we have several available apartments and no time or energy to even show them. So we posted on the Landlords Only Facebook page an opportunity for a fellow landlord to make some extra money by renting these places for us. Just set up the showings and show them, we’ll run the applications and sign the leases. Christa herself came to our aid there. And just in time, too! We met with her and her husband at Red Robin Monday night, and Wednesday Steve got his double diagnosis. Rest assured, if Christa’s family ever gets down with the sickness, we’ll be there to help her out, too.
We’re all independent, self-employed business owners proudly pursuing the American Dream. It’s 100% on us individually if our business is to succeed. But we can help each other. We’re in this together.