I’ve invited Oleta Collins is the owner of Flourishing Art Design Studio to share her perspective today. Flourishing Art is a premier florist and design studio in Bakersfield, California, that specializes in luxury weddings and events. She is also a Certified Floral Designer and an accredited member of the American Institute of Floral Designers.
As business owners, we’d all love to think that nothing can stop us from achieving our goals. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work out as simply as we’d hope. Natural disasters, illnesses, and family emergencies all have a way of rearing their heads unexpectedly — and it’s important that we, as humans, are prepared to set aside business responsibilities for the big things in life.
As someone who has endured a cancer diagnosis while running my business, I’ve found that these types of things tend to show up at the worst times. When I found out I had stage 4 cancer, I had just gotten my business to the point where it was growing in the direction I had planned. Suddenly, challenges with marketing strategies or inventory management seem laughable. Daily life was no longer about matching blooms and creating timelines; it was hospital stays and chemotherapy sessions.
Since that day, I’ve had 29 surgeries, and my business has survived the ups and downs of that journey. Thankfully, we are back in the right direction, and the hurdles along the way have been entirely worth it. However, we—and I’m referring to myself, my family, and my team—didn’t come out on the other side of this without a few lessons learned.
Here are the most important takeaways I gained from my experience.
Lean on your team for support.
A team is always important, but it’s critical in dire times of need. You cannot persevere alone forever, whether it’s an illness, loss of a family member, or any other setback you’re facing. Look to your family and your team at work to lift you up and carry responsibilities you set aside. When I was in the hospital, my husband was in contact with my staff as we focused on my recovery — I believe this is why we managed to keep the doors open until I was ready to return to business.
Be realistic with your expectations.
Even if your team manages to run your business successfully in your absence, there will still likely be some level of loss in business. There will be less energy directed towards marketing or sales to keep up with the demands of current clients. This isn’t worth your stress; focus on what you need to do to bounce back and save the worrying for when you’re healthy and ready to get back in the saddle. Even then, it will still take time to get back to pre-crisis success levels, but rest assured that you and your team can make it happen.
Trust your accountant fully.
When times are tough, money has a way of getting tight as well — especially if you consider that your business is operating at less than full speed. You may have extra bills tacked on (like repairs from a natural disaster or medical expenses from a hospital stay). A great accountant will help you to keep your books in order and manage your finances in the best possible situation. Certainly, don’t expect him or her to find money where there is none, but in terms of smart money decisions, it’s best to rely on a professional to help you stay solvent.
Commit to your community.
Once you can put the worst behind you and get back to work, you’ll want to spend some of your time resuming your role in the community. People will be thankful to have you again, but they need first to know that you’ve returned to business. Reach out to your connections and schedule some coffee dates to get the scoop on what you’ve missed. Tell your story and use your influence to make an impact. Since my return, I’ve become a spokesperson for a local cancer nonprofit. Attend chamber meetings, local workshops, and other industry events — now is your time to make a difference.
Sometimes, life has a way of getting in the way of business. It’s virtually inevitable the longer you are in business. However, there’s no reason a life crisis means you have to shut down your business. Take care of yourself first, trust your team, and know that everything will happen the way it should.