Coping With Tragedy When Running Your Own Business

Running a business is challenging enough when life is rosy, let alone when a curveball comes along and knocks you off your feet. Most of us experience loss at some point in our lives, but that doesn’t make grieving any easier. When you’re responsible for your income, a team of employees and a client base, it can be particularly tough to muddle through.

In this guide, we’ll explore some coping mechanisms that can be beneficial for entrepreneurs and business owners.

Drawing up Plans

There are several events and scenarios that threaten to spell trouble for businesses. While you might not have factored in personal tragedy alongside natural disasters, logistics and supply chain issues, cash flow problems, staff shortages and economic or political uncertainty, it is beneficial to have a plan B to call upon if things take a turn. Being aware of the potential impact of your own health or events that affect you can help you plan accordingly. If you were to become ill, or you needed to take time away from the business as a result of losing somebody close to you or assuming responsibility for caring for a partner or a parent, for example, would the company be able to run efficiently? If you don’t already have plans in place, it’s a good idea to consider what would happen in these circumstances and to note down some policies and ideas that you can implement if the need arises. Being prepared will help to minimize disruption for your employees and customers and reduce stress.

Recognizing the Need to Take Time Out

We all respond differently to grief and loss. Some people will hide away from the world, while others will go about their daily business, trying desperately to keep busy. It’s critical to understand that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to reacting to bad news or the death of a loved one. Allow yourself to experience the emotions that come naturally. Resist the temptation to try and squash or suffocate thoughts and feelings, and recognize the need to take time out. You may find that you want to work, but at some point, you will need to take a break to digest what has happened and to start the healing process. This may be an instant reaction or something you do a week, a month or even a few months after your loss. Business owners work incredibly hard to make ventures a success, but your health and wellbeing should always come first.

Delegating and Communicating With Your Team

Most company owners play an active role in the day-to-day running of their business. Managing a business is tough, and at times when you are exhausted, you are drained and you are struggling to cope with the wave of emotions brought about by losing a partner or relative, it can be impossible to focus and to devote energy to work. Nobody is superhuman. If you are trying to cope with bereavement, lean on your team and don’t be afraid to delegate. Communicate with your team, make sure your employees understand the situation and have faith and confidence in them. If everybody understands what is going on and there are plans in place, there is no reason why you can’t take a step back until you feel strong enough to resume your duties.

Giving Yourself Time to Grieve

Entrepreneurs are famed for working long hours and devoting every ounce of energy to their businesses. If you’re used to working around the clock, and you’ve spent years building a company, it can be difficult to take time off and cut strings for a while. Grief affects us in different ways, but it’s essential for everyone to have time to grieve. Even if you feel that you want to be working all the time, take a moment to process what has happened, allow people around you to help and support you and start taking steps to look after yourself. Loss can be incredibly distressing, but organizing funerals, looking through headstones in metal to find the perfect grave marker and dealing with estates and wills can also be stressful. Listen to your body and rest when you need to. Understand that there is no time-frame for grief. Don’t put pressure on yourself to get back to work if you feel like you can’t face it yet. Some days you might be ready and raring to go when your morning alarm goes off. Others, you might struggle to open your eyes, let alone go to the office. Take each day as it comes.

Letting Others In

Most business owners are driven, determined, independent individuals. While these are positive traits for running a company, they can make asking for help difficult. If you are struggling, it’s essential to understand that there is help available. Perhaps you need support from your team in the office to keep the business going while you’re taking time off, or you simply want a friend to chat to one evening. Don’t pretend that everything is fine or turn down invitations or offers if you want company or you need help or advice. Let your loved ones in. The simplest things, like a cuddle from a sibling, a catch-up with a friend or a neighbor dropping round with a homemade meal, can make a huge difference.

Taking It Step by Step

Going back to work after losing a relative or close friend can be difficult. Start work when you are ready and be prepared to have days that are tougher than others. Don’t put pressure on yourself to snap back into normal hours or to feel a certain way after a certain period of time. There may be days when you need a break, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Business owners are often seen as tough cookies, but all human beings are vulnerable when it comes to loss. Losing a loved one can make you feel like the world around you is crumbling, and it can take months, even years to feel like you’re even starting to heal and recover. If you run a company, and you’re coping with tragedy, it’s vital to allow yourself to grieve, to take a step back when you need to and to let others help and support you.

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