Being Sandwiched When You Run a Small Business

I haven't written in a while. My life and my family's life were interrupted this fall and this winter. Let me explain. I finally started talking about it to friends and business owners. Many people are facing similar challenges even though it rarely gets talked about. This fall my daughter, who is doing very well now, spent 3 weeks in the hospital in Pennsylvania with an autoimmune issue- the first 3 weeks of her sophomore year in college. she ultimately had to drop 2 classes, couldn't try out for a sorority, and has only now recovered 85%+ of her strength. It was exhausting to make 5 trips, spend 8 nights and deal with multiple doctors from afar.

In late January my uncle who is in Rhode Island ( I am the closest relative) finally succumbed to leukemia after a 2+ year fight and 3 hospitalizations. There were numerous trips up for the day or night sometimes on only several hours notice. My brother and I set aside 3 days to plan the service and arrangements. We made endless phone calls and sent emails almost daily to keep everyone up to date. The night he died we found out my father-in-law had a stroke, and this set off a whole chain of events for my wife - visiting Oregon, managing the health care from Connecticut, moving out of their house of over 40 years. Very demanding!

Lots of good has come out of these challenges, however. We have a closer knit family that is now in regular communication. We have celebrated several family get togethers and renewed acquaintances. There have been highs and lows. Yes, the businesses (Sylvan Learning Center in Darien and The Success Coach) have suffered at times due to lack of focus and less business development.

Interruptions are a part of life, particularly when you are in mid 40s to mid 50s. For many people these are the peak earning years. They may also be coupled with college expenses for your kids and maybe providing emotional and financial support for your parents or other relatives. You have to respond to the highest need with a positive attitude and dig in to solve problems. Many times you are making decisions you have never faced before. Use your business communication skills and reach out to move decisions along or lead the charge. It isn't easy, but you have been making business decisions daily and know how to do it. Don't be afraid to step up. Interruptions and new challenges, even if there are family or health related, will create personal growth for you. They will strengthen you as a person, and some of what you learn can be applied to employees, clients, and vendors.