Why you need a “Plan B” if you’re self-employed

By Mark G. Auerbach

Last winter, a colleague of mine who teaches public relations at Westfield State University, asked me if I could come in and do a couple of workshops with her classes. When I arrived on campus that day, Suzanne Boniface greeted me in a wheelchair with a broken knee, and limited mobility.  During the beginning stages of her recovery, she counted on friends and colleagues to teach some of her classes, and relied upon family and friends to get her to and from the campus. I was quite pleased by her resilience. She had her Plan B in place.

Flash Forward to April. One night, I fell down a flight of stairs at my condo, was rushed to the hospital, and had surgery on my broken femur and fractured wrist. There were complications, and I ended up in rehab, where I’ve been for the last month. I know that I won’t be able to drive until August, and I won’t be able to go home until I can climb steps, maneuver around my condo, and begin a long recovery process.

I had to figure out a Plan B overnight, while still in the haze of anesthesia. My major client agreed that I could turn in materials and progress back to my normal workload after a couple of weeks off. My publisher and radio producer give me a leave of absence, without pay. A college student who does social media for me stepped up to the plate to do additional work without being asked. My friends and neighbors helped me with everything from going to the post office, to doing my banking, and completing other business tasks. I dropped several occasional clients because I simply can’t handle the workload yet.

A colleague of mine who has worked with me on several clients has stepped up to take on some of my work, and I can focus almost 70% of my time at rehab to making a complete recovery. Once I was in rehab, I notified my friends about my predicament, and many of them offered to do things on my behalf, which is making my recovery and my return to work a much easier journey. One of my major complications is a lack of appetite. I’ve lost close to 30 pounds. I think positively that my more svelte appearance may be one of the good things that come out of this journey. I also realize that, as a self-employed person, I should have had a more formal Plan B in place.

Picking up the pieces

My advice to other solopreneurs or small business owners is that you should have in place a well-thought-out Plan B in case you are unable to work for a lengthy period. I had some pieces of this plan ready, but not all. I had my client information on my laptop, and accessible on my tablet. Therefore, any of my team that was going to cover for me had information on what needed to be done at their fingertips.

I wasted no time notifying my clients of my predicament. Now that I’m able to concentrate better, I can do some client work, but I’ve had to simplify those processes. For example, I manage the social media for many of my dormant clients. I had to ask them to remove me as a social media administrator, so I could manage the current clients with the help of my colleague who was doing the Facebook and Instagram for The Capitol Steps.

I’m very fortunate that my colleagues have all worked with me before, and know my routines, my idiosyncrasies, and my work procedures. I’ve installed speak text on my tablet, because it’s extremely difficult to work on a tablet, cell phone, or laptop with only one functioning hand that is not my dominant hand. I’ve learned to budget my time. Typing a media release with one hand takes three times longer than the way I usually type. I’ve gone back at times to phone use instead of text and email. It’s sometimes easier for me to articulate and explain what I want to do when I don’t have to worry about taking up my energy and time to type it.

Prioritizing is key

Your Plan B must be carefully prioritized. Some days I have no energy to do simple tasks, because therapy comes first. Some days in my post-anesthesia haze, my concentration skills are not the best, so I have to plan my day to do my work when I’m at my most coherent.

I’ve learned several major lessons from this experience. I think my Plan B works, considering the long recovery road and the complications. I’m glad I had occasionally thought about this before. I wish I could put everything in writing before. Come August, ask me how I did with my Plan B. I’m glad to share the tips that were successful.

I have had a great therapy and rehab experience at Sosin in Longmeadow, MA. One of the lessons the therapists have taught me spills over to my work life. Set small steps as your goals, and set a plateau that you wish to reach.


Mark G. Auerbach is principal at Mark G. Auerbach Public Relations, a Springfield, MA, based marketing, public relations, development and events consultancy. Mark is also the ArtsBeat reporter for The Westfield News Group and producer of ArtsBeat Radio on 89.5fm-WKSB. You can find more information about Mark G. Auerbach Public Relations on Facebook, and Mark G. Auerbach  on LinkedIn or @mgauerbach on Twitter..

1 comment

  1. Leslie Petrovics says:

    My very best wishes for a full recovery, Mark. Very helpful share –respect!!

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