How to Start, Manage and Grow Your Business When You Have a Chronic Illness

You want to grow your business but you’re in constant pain.

You want to scale new heights but you’re so exhausted all the time.

You want to be in the “big boys” or “big girls” club but some days, you can barely drag yourself out of bed.

Chronic illnesses can be a challenge to deal with, especially when you’re an entrepreneur, running your own show.

You may not have to call in sick and deal with a grouchy boss but you do have client work to finish, projects to complete and teams to manage.

Yes it can be tough.

How do I know?

Because we’ve dealt with chronic illnesses pretty much all through our entrepreneurial journeys, in one way or the other.

Starting on the Entrepreneurial Path with a Chronic Illness

This is for you, if you’ve been considering starting your own business but suffer from a chronic condition.

5 years ago, when we started Content Bistro {which was at that time, called Social Media Direct}, Mayank had a chronic case of acute inflammation. He was in so much pain that he had to quit his day job at American Express, where he was a Manager in Customer Service.

Most of our savings were been eaten up fast by medical and household expenses. Yes, he was the primary earner too.

We had literally, $0 to put into our business which we knew we had to start because, well, we also had a 2 ½ -year old daughter and with him in so much pain, there was no way, I was going out to get a job.

Here’s what we did:

We kept our mindsets positive, prayed fervently, and jumped in with both feet.

We kept our expenses really, really low. Our first site was built, pro bono, by a dear friend who has a marketing agency.

The only expenses we did have, was paying for hosting and buying our domain name. Yes. THAT low.

We focused on delivering excellent services to the handful of clients we had, ensuring that they’d come back to us, over and over again. Some of the clients we got in our first year are still with us. So, THAT should be your focus. Not how much money can you make.

focus

We focused on learning and growing our skillset. And yes, as much as we wanted to take some of the amazing courses out there, we just didn’t have the budget for it. So, we learnt from free resources – blogs, websites, opt-in eCourses and so on.  Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income was my first stop. I highly recommend it because Pat’s real {THAT is a BIG thing in this online world}, focused on action and is intentional about growth.

We also, focused on getting out there and getting noticed. Yes, it did mean doing some work for very little money {again, the focus should NOT be the money!} but it did lead to amazing relationships as well as testimonials.

One of my dear friends and mastermind buddy, Angela England is someone I met via the forums of a site we both used to write for. I did a TON of guest blogging that helped me land paid jobs and again, made lasting relationships for us.

We also, focused on getting healthy, eating right and exercising. Books, like The Inflammation-Free Diet Plan and The Ultimate pH Solution were read, highlighted and dogeared. Blogs, like Kitchen Stewardship, were read and discussed over and over and over again.

We made lots of changes, cutting out lots of things from our diet and lifestyle. From moving to chemical-free cosmetics to switching to organic and alkaline foods, we did it all.

I’m SO happy and beyond blessed to share that today, Mayank is 100% pain-free.

We still slip back into our old habits {hello, takeout pizza!} but we now know that we need to focus on eating right and clean. That chronic conditions are a reflection of our diet and lifestyle, so whenever we notice anything getting out of whack, we look at our diet first.

Grow Your Business Despite a Chronic Illness

So, you’d think that with everything we’ve been through and the amount we’ve learnt about healthy living and eating right, we’d be 100% healthy now, right?

Wrong.

Last December, yours truly was diagnosed with an ovarian cyst with mural nodules aka tumors on it.

It’s painful. It’s exhausting. It’s frustrating.

The only option the doctors gave us was getting operated upon.

But that wasn’t something we wanted, given everything we now know about modern medicine.

Don’t worry, I’m not gonna go into a spiel about how some diet or program is curing me miraculously.

In fact, I’m gonna tell you that it’s frustrating when I have to curl up in bed in pain instead of being out there, smashing milestones.

I’m gonna tell you that it can be overwhelming and upsetting when exhaustion from the pain and the condition cause you to be sleepy, even after a nap.

I’m gonna also, tell you that despite all of this, you can continue to grow your business and be your best self. That’s right.

Here’s what’s working for us so far:

1. Healing our diet.

Going back to basics and eating right, avoiding processed foods, white flour and sugar. Yes, that means I need to curb my Nutella addiction and honestly, I’m trying. I’m not there yet, clearly. But I’m trying.

personalised Nutella jars

I also have to mention here that we’re BIG on doTerra essential oils here. They’ve been awesome at helping me deal with the pain and manage it without any other medication. We don’t sell them but we love them and have them shipped to us regularly from the U.S.  {Sidenote: If you have questions about essential oils, please feel free to contact, my friend  Louisa Gormley if you’re in Australia}

2. Working on our mindset, praying and being grateful for what we have.

Mayank and I, both, believe that our mindset is what matters.

We focus on being positive, appreciating the small but significant things that count and on looking ahead, instead of drowning in self-pity.

Every day, I’m grateful that I work on projects that excite me, with clients who inspire and delight me. Seriously, who gets to do that?!!

My Passion Planner and my gratitude journal are such a blessing because they motivate me to note down every little thing that I’m grateful for.

3. Surrounding ourselves with positive, like-minded people.

We’re big believers in the power of community and that, in fact, is one of the reasons we started The Biz Bistro.  {Sidenote: Join us. It’s free and it gives you access to nearly 1600+ entrepreneurial brains to connect with. }

4. Hiring out, delegating and doing away with things.

I’m SO grateful for the folks we have on our team. Our in-house editor, Joy Clarkson is a Godsend. So are Warren Denley and the team from WP Website Coach who ensure that the site is running smoothly at all times. Both our virtual assistants keep our schedule sane and our inboxes clear.

Aside from people, some of the tools we use are such lifesavers, that we’ve been able to streamline our marketing and save hours as well. ConvertKit is one such tool that’s skyrocketed our deliverability and helped us automate our marketing easily. SumoMe’s suite of lead generation and social sharing tools are a blessing to use.

We still focus on keeping our expenses low, but we do invest in learning, hiring and tools to free up time. 10% of whatever we earn goes back into our business. It’s our rule and we stick to it. So, yes, it does mean saying “no” to a lot of things.

5. Keeping our eye only on our goals.

This is a biggie.

Especially when you work online and are surrounded by folks who always seem to be 5 steps ahead of you. You want what they have and it can get frustrating, overwhelming and even, disappointing. You start to undervalue what you’ve accomplished and keep living in Comparisonville.

It’s time to move out and instead, live in Focustown. Where you only focus on your goals, your path, your journey and your accomplishments.

You have the neighboring towns of Gratitude and Self-Care and whenever you find yourself drifting back towards Comparisonville, you instead stop by at Gratitude to acknowledge everything that’s going great for you and then, you take a break at Self-Care and fill up that well of energy and enthusiasm.

Does this mean that we don’t notice what’s going on or do we simply ignore everyone? Nope. We acknowledge their wins but we focus on ours.

It’s often said, “What you focus on, grows” and we believe in it 100%.

So, there you have it.

To start, manage and grow your business when you’re dealing with chronic pain or illness can be done.

You need to:

Sharpen your focus on getting healthy and healing yourself. We chose the path of healing our diet. You can decide which path you want to take.

Cultivate the right mindset and an attitude of gratitude.

Move out of Comparisonville and into Focustown.

Always over-deliver and build a tribe of clients or customers who love you and your work.

Keep learning and growing, surrounded by a community of like-minded people.

Hire out and delegate when you can.

It will take time.

It will take patience.

It will take giving up on a lot of things.

But never, ever let anyone tell you, it can’t be done.

Questions? I’m sure you have them. Ask away in the comments and we’ll be happy to answer!

OUR STEP BY STEP JOURNEY TO STARTING AND GROWING OUR BUSINESS

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and if you buy using these links, you pay nothing extra but we make a small commission which funds our caffeine addiction and the Nutella fund 😉